FAU poll shows 1 in 7 Republicans don’t plan to vote for Trump in November

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Polling released on the eve of voting in 15 states with Super Tuesday primaries shows former President Donald Trump remains the overwhelming choice of likely Republican primary voters as he continues cruising toward his party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

Still, the poll Monday from Florida Atlantic University shows more than a quarter of Republicans who said they plan to vote in one of Tuesday’s primaries said they don’t plan to vote for Trump.

Overall Trump is crushing his last remaining competitor, former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, 73% to 27%.

There are differences across the 15 states holding Super Tuesday primaries. Trump generally performs best in the South, and not quite as strongly on the coasts, the Upper Midwest and the Mountain states.

But there’s nothing in the Florida Atlantic University/Mainstreet Research/PolCom Lab poll results to suggest anything other than widespread Trump victories.

“It shows a pretty solid grasp on GOP primary voters by the former president,” said Kevin Wagner, an FAU political scientist.

Super Tuesday

Trump has staggering leads in almost all the 15 Super Tuesday states. That’s true in the country’s most conservative, southern states voting Tuesday: Alabama, 80%; Arkansas, 92%; Oklahoma, 89%; and Tennessee, 83%.

He’s also doing well, though not quite as strongly, in some coastal states seen by many as far more liberal bastions: California, 76%, and Massachusetts, 66%.

There are two states where the contest is far closer: Virginia, where Trump is ahead of Haley 55% to 45%, and Vermont, where he leads by 51% to 49%. The sample sizes are relatively small, and Wagner cautioned against making predictions about those two states based on the poll results.

Reverse gender gap

Across the 15 states, the survey found Trump doing better among women who plan to vote in Tuesday’s primaries than among men.

Conversely, Haley did better among men than women.

Republican men favored Trump 71% to 29%. Republican women favored Trump 76% to 24%.

Trump was favored by 72% or more of Republicans aged 18-to-34 and voters 50 and older.

Among Republicans aged 35-49, Trump has notably less support: 61% to Haley’s 39%.

November opposition

The poll asked people — Democrats, Republicans and independents — who said they aren’t voting for Trump in November why.

There were two central reasons people cited for their intentions not to vote for Trump in the fall.

• His track record as president and his performance on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the attempted insurrection aimed at stopping the official declaration of President Joe Biden’s victory (cited by 30%).

• The way Trump conducts himself personally (cited by 21%).

There were notable differences by political party. Among Democrats, 31% cited his presidential performance/Jan. 6. Among Republicans, 29% cited his personal behavior.

The exact question was, “Why are you not voting for Donald Trump?”

People were given nine choices. (The order was changed during calling to avoid biasing the results based on the order of possible answers, Wagner said.):

• “Something personal, like his name calling of opponents and personal behavior.” All voters, 21%; Democrats, 18%; independents, 23%; Republicans, 29%

• “His track record as president including his performance on Jan. 6th.” All voters, 30%; Democrats, 31%; independents, 29%; Republicans, 23%.

Three other options were selected by at least 13% of surveyed voters:

• “His position on Ukraine and Russia, or another foreign policy position like NATO or Israel.” All voters, 13%; Democrats; 14%, independents, 11%; Republicans, 14%.

• “His indictments and pending court cases.” All voters, 14%; Democrats, 14%; independents, 14%; Republicans, 10%.

Few people said attitudes toward minorities, his position on women’s rights and abortion rights, his position on immigration, or “something else” was their No. 1 reason they don’t plan to vote for Trump.

Abortion rights is a central flashpoint in the election, and a major difference between Republican Trump, who appointed Supreme Court justices whose votes led to overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, and Democrat Biden, who favors abortion rights.

Just 4% said it was their top concern.

A total of 13% of people who said they wouldn’t vote for Trump said ‘there is nothing that would impact” their support for him in November.

There weren’t any meaningful differences in the reasons cited by men and women.

There were, however, some differences based on voters’ ages.

Trump’s conduct during the presidency/Jan. 6, was cited by 31% of voters older than 50, something said might be explained by an “American traditionalism for older voters.” Trump’s personal behavior was cited by 36% of voters age 35-49. And foreign policy was cited by 21% of voters aged 18-34.

No to primary frontrunners

In the head-to-head matchup among Republican likely voters 27% said they would vote for Haley in Super Tuesday’s primaries.

There’s no way to know that feeling about Trump today will affect voting in November — how many would vote for Biden, would vote for a minor-party candidate, would support him by virtue of his becoming the Republican nominee.

“I think it’s a bit of a problem for him. The question that is very hard to answer at this stage is what percentage of those voters will come home to the former president and the Republican party in November. The historic pattern is that voters tend to come home. But this is a very different kind of situation and it’s going to be very difficult to predict.”

The results didn’t provide a breakdown of likely Democratic voters on Super Tuesday. But among all Democratic voters surveyed (which includes people assessed as not likely to vote Tuesday) had support of 86%. Among the comparable group of all Republican voters, Trump had the support of 67%.

Is that a danger sign for either or both?

There may be a difference between the kind of Republicans who don’t favor Trump and the kind of Democrats who say they don’t support Biden, Wagner said.

He said the “non-Trump part” of the Republican Party shows “hostility” toward the former president, “likely a different kind of thing that we’ve historically seen in opposition voting.”

He said primary-season opposition to Biden may be more like what happens in virtually every primary with an incumbent: some share of people will always vote for the opposition “to cast a protest vote as a signal and come home in November.”

Wagner said that pattern seems more likely to hold up for Biden who is more traditional than Trump.

November election

Among voters in the 15 states voting Tuesday, a Biden-Trump November matchup is exceedingly close. Trump is slightly ahead in those states, but considering the margin of error of the poll, the difference is statistically insignificant.

Among all voters, Biden leads 46% to 44%.

The poll found 6% said they’d vote for another candidate and 4% were undecided.

Independent voters were notably more likely to say they’d vote for another candidate (13%) and more likely to be undecided (6%).

Fine print

The poll was conducted Feb. 29 to March 3 by Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University’s PolCom Lab, which is a collaboration of the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies and Department of Political Science.

The survey used text messages to reach 3,502 registered voters living in Super Tuesday states who responded to a link to complete the survey online. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points for the full survey of Democrats, Republicans and independents. The margin of error for smaller groups, such as Republicans or Democrats, or men and women, is higher because the sample sizes are smaller.