Trump lashes out at polls that show 2020 re-election bid in trouble

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump on Wednesday lashed out at new polling results showing the president in deep trouble as he mounts his 2020 re-election bid.

A day after a survey found at least six Democratic presidential candidates would defeat Trump in a head-to-head election matchup, the president revived his attacks on the media while dismissing the numbers as, in his view, “fake polling”.

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“The Fake News has never been more dishonest than it is today. Thank goodness we can fight back on Social Media,” Trump tweeted. “Their new weapon of choice is Fake Polling, sometimes referred to as Suppression Polls (they suppress the numbers). Had it in 2016, but this is worse…”

Trump went on to deny a report in the New York Times that his campaign’s own internal polling found him in a weak position across 17 states.

“The Fake (Corrupt) News Media said they had a leak into polling done by my campaign which, by the way and despite the phony and never ending Witch Hunt, are the best numbers WE have ever had,” Trump wrote. “They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist. WE WILL WIN AGAIN!”

The pair of tweets followed a devastating poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University, which showed Trump trailing six Democratic contenders by between five and 13 points among 1,214 registered voters polled nationwide.

Former vice-president Joe Biden held the strongest advantage over Trump, polling at 13 points above him, followed by the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders at nine points. Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren led Trump by seven and eight points respectively, and even the South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, and the New Jersey senator Cory Booker – both of whom rank among the lesser-known Democratic candidates – each came in five points ahead of Trump.

The results echoed other national and swing state polls spelling difficulty for Trump as he builds his case for a second term before the American public.

Pollsters warn that it is far too early to draw any sweeping conclusions from the findings at this stage. Although the surveys are designed to reflect the temperature of the electorate in this moment, the mood can quickly change. Most Americans are not yet tuned into the 2020 election, and they are only just getting to know some of the candidates in the Democratic field.

Pollsters were also rattled by the 2016 election, when surveys consistently favored Hillary Clinton in key battleground states. Despite Clinton’s lead over Trump in most pre-election polls, voters previously regarded as undecided turned out in droves and swung for Trump in the final days. Their turnout was higher than projected and some had not told pollsters they supported the controversial candidate.

The Quinnipiac poll suggested Trump could stand to benefit from 70% of Americans saying the economy is “excellent” or “good”.

“The Trump bump to 42% job approval is nothing to sniff at. It’s one point shy of the best Quinnipiac University survey number ever for President Trump,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

Trump and Biden are engaged in an escalating war of words, offering a preview of a hypothetical general election contest if Biden wins the nomination next year. Trump has publicly questioned Biden’s mental fitness and reportedly instructed his aides to deny that his campaign’s internal polling showed him trailing Biden in many must-win states.

Trump nonetheless insisted he was not concerned, telling reporters on Tuesday: “I think he’s the weakest mentally … The others have much more energy.

“I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody.”