BREAKING: As Impeachment Moves Ahead Trump Surges in Battleground States

December 8, 2019

Firehouse/Optimus December Battleground State Poll: As Impeachment Moves Ahead, President Trump Well-Positioned Against Leading Democratic Contenders

This week we continued our quarterly battleground polling series in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin asking likely 2020 general election voters their political opinions on President Trump, the 2020 presidential election, and impeachment.  We polled voters through a combination of live landline, live cell, and peer-to-peer text message to web survey modes from December 3rd to December 5th. A summary of our results is presented below.

As the impeachment process heats up in Washington, Donald Trump is seeing a boost in support in crucial swing states. Across the board, President Trump is polling well against the Democratic field in each of these battleground states. Notably, Vice President Biden has seen a sharp decline in support in our surveys as he currently runs behind President Trump in each of the three states.

Key Findings:

  • Trump Improves His Lead In Head-to-Head Match-Ups Against Leading Democratic Contenders.

As the race currently stands, President Trump is in the lead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in hypothetical match-ups against former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Across the three states, Trump’s closest contest is against Joe Biden, although the president leads by an average of 6 percentage points against each Democrat.

In Michigan, Trump is polling ahead of Biden by five percentage points, Sanders by six points, Warren by nine points, Buttigieg by eleven points, and Bloomberg by eleven points. The president consistently runs behind Democratic contenders aged 18-35 but does well among other age cohorts, especially those aged 55 years or older. For example, in a head-to-head contest of Trump against Bernie Sanders, Michiganders aged 18-35 support Sanders over Trump 58% to 34% but those aged 55+ support the president over Sanders 53% to 37%.

In Pennsylvania, Trump continues to do well against the competition with the president leading Biden by four percentage points, Warren by seven points, Sanders by eleven points, Buttigieg by six points, and Bloomberg by four points.  Bloomberg – who performed nearly as well as Vice President Biden in the commonwealth– had his best performance in Pennsylvania, running only four points behind President Trump in the state.

Wisconsin was President Trump’s best state in this round of battleground polling. Against almost each of his Democratic challengers, President Trump held a double-digit lead.  The president is currently running up nine percentage points against Biden, twelve points against Warren, thirteen points against Sanders, eleven points against Buttigieg, and twelve points against Bloomberg. Among non-partisan voters, Wisconsinites favored President Trump by double digits. For example, against Senator Elizabeth Warren, Trump led by over 18 percentage points among non-partisans.

KEY POINT: Overall, we find President Trump performing well in these crucial 2020 states. While these numbers will fluctuate as the presidential election continues, Trump is well situated to win back these contests.

  • Battleground States Trending Trump over Biden.

likely 2020 general election voters in these battleground states who they would favor in the presidential contest: either President Trump or Vice President Biden. Since that survey, there has been a clear downward trajectory in the Vice President’s performance.  As the Democratic primary wages on, Biden has seen a sever drop in the polls. For example, in our March survey, Biden led Trump in Wisconsin by twelve percentage points, in Pennsylvania by seven points, and in Michigan he narrowly to Trump by 0.2 points.  In this month’s survey, we found Trump over Biden by nine points in Wisconsin, by four points in Pennsylvania, and five points in Michigan. 

KEY POINT: Although Joe Biden was performing well in head-to-head contests against Trump earlier in the year, the race shows that his lead has disappeared with the president ahead of the former vice president in each of the states.


  • Battleground Voters Oppose Impeach and Remove; Support Congressional Democrats Turning Back to Policy Issues.

 In each of these battleground states, we find that a majority of likely 2020 voters do not support the impeachment and removal of President Trump from office. Impeachment and removal is opposed by 50.8% of voters in Michigan, 52.2% of voters in Pennsylvania, and 57.9% of voters in Wisconsin. Non-partisan voters in Michigan (70%) and Wisconsin (61%) oppose impeachment and removal while non-

partisan voters in Pennsylvania slightly support it (46.4% to 40.9%). When asked about whether congressional Democrats should be spending their time impeaching Trump or focusing on policy issues, a majority of these battleground state voters choose “focus on policy issues” (MI: 59.4%; PA: 63%; WI: 67.2%).

On those issues, partisans have different issue priorities. In each state, a plurality of Republicans believe that immigration is the most important political issue facing the United States today (MI: 32.6%; PA: 29.9; WI: 26.8) while a plurality of Democrats in Michigan and Wisconsin believe it is health care (MI: 23.3%; WI: 24.3%) and Democrats in Pennsylvania believe it is climate change (22.5%).

KEY POINT: Battleground state voters favor congressional Democrats turning away from impeachment issues and focusing on policy issues like immigration, health care, and climate change.


Methodology Summary: The Firehouse/0ptimus survey was conducted 12/3 through 12/5 and interviewed 1,759 likely 2020 general election voters in Wisconsin (N = 610), Michigan (N = 551), and Pennsylvania (N = 598) via live landline (WI: 238; MI: 228; PA: 227), live cellphone (WI: 114; MI: 117; PA: 133), and peer to peer text message to web (WI: 258; MI: 206; PA: 238). Likely voters were identified as those who voted in either the 2016 or 2018 general elections plus additional voters who are expected to vote in the 2020 election as determined by 0ptimus turnout modeling. Each state sample was weighted by age group, gender, education, and political party to reflect the demographic characteristics of the likely voter population within each state. Margins of error vary by question and segment but is generally ± 4.1% in WI, ± 4.3% in MI, and ± 4.3% in PA for the topline results.

Our full methodology statement is available on our GitHub repository