The Memo: Trump's battleground ratings sound warning for Democrats

by Niall Stanage, The Hill

New battleground state polls sent tremors through Democratic circles Monday, underlining that President Trump has a fighting chance of reelection despite his mediocre national standing.

The polls, from The New York Times and Siena College, tested the three leading Democratic 2020 candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — against Trump in the six states that Trump carried by the narrowest margins in 2016.

Those states are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

The polls showed Warren defeating Trump only in Arizona, Sanders doing so in three of the states and Biden doing so in four. All of the Democrats lost to Trump in North Carolina, which President Obama carried narrowly in 2008.

Even in Biden’s case the results were hardly conclusive. His edge was 5 points in Arizona and smaller everywhere else: 3 points in both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and just 2 points in Florida.

The differences between the Democratic candidates were also not large enough to come to confident judgments as to their real strengths — often, all three were bunched together within the polling margin of error in each state.

But the more troublesome aspect for many Democrats was Trump’s showing.

“Any Democrat who looks at that data should be concerned,” said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “The blue-collar rift in this country hasn’t been healed in any way and Trump still commands tremendous loyalty” among his supporters.

Trump famously lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by almost 3 million votes.

But his narrow victories in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — three states that had been thought to constitute a Democratic "blue wall," having not backed a Republican for president since the 1980s — were enough to get him to the Oval Office.

A 1-point margin of victory in Florida delivered Trump another 29 electoral votes. As he notes in speeches to this day, Trump was a comfortable victor in the Electoral College, taking 306 votes to Clinton’s 232.