Amid questions about Donald Trump’s electability in the general election, a new poll may undermine Trump’s claims that he is the best candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton. At this stage of the campaign, most head-to-head matchups are national polls. Since the actual election hinges on state elections for the Electoral College, national head-to-head polls are of questionable value. One recent poll showed a state matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton that should worry The Donald’s supporters.
Mississippi is a red state that has voted Republican in every election since its electors cast their ballots for Jimmy Carter in 1976. In most recent elections, it hasn’t even been close. For the past four presidential elections, Mississippi went for the Republican candidate by double-digit margins. This has been true even when the national popular vote was close, as it was in 2012.
This week, however, a new poll sent out a shockwave when it showed that Mississippi might be in play in a potential matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Mason-Dixon poll of 625 registered voters found that Trump and Clinton were in a statistical tie at 46-43 percent.
The poll showed Clinton with an Obama-like majority of black voters at 93 percent and a convincing lead among women voters at 47-40 percent. Clinton also was favored by 11 percent of Republican voters.
The poll also asked who voters would support if an unnamed third party candidate was in the race. In this scenario, Trump and Hillary tied at 39 percent and the unknown candidate received 13 percent.
Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich performed better against Hillary than Trump did. Cruz beat Clinton by a 51-40 percent margin. Kasich did even better at 52-37 percent.
The problem is not that Trump is unknown. Ninety-nine percent of Mississippi voters are familiar with Trump. His approval rating is a net -11 points with 44 percent disapproving and only 33 percent viewing him favorably. This is still a higher approval rating than Trump has nationally.
Much of Trump’s problem is the scorched earth nature of his primary campaign. CNN exit polls from Wisconsin found that only 62 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump if he is the party’s nominee. Ten percent planned to vote for Clinton while 17 percent would back a third party candidate. Eight percent plan to sit out the election.
The Mississippi poll is the first hard evidence of the electoral disaster that awaits Republicans if they nominate Donald Trump. Electoral math would require Republicans to win at least four key battleground states that were won twice by President Obama. If a Trump candidacy endangers the Republican hold on Mississippi, chances of winning swing states would be nil. So would his chances of winning the White House.