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Trump’s Job Approval Upside Down In The Three States That Gave Him The Presidency

Trump Cabinet

A new poll shows Donald Trump in potential peril in three states that were key to his election in 2016:

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s job approval rating in three key states that helped propel him to the White House — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — stands below 40 percent, according to a trio of NBC News/Marist polls.

In addition, Democrats enjoy double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania on the question of which party voters prefer to control Congress after the 2018 midterms, and they hold an 8-point advantage in Wisconsin.

In all three states, more than six in 10 voters say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them, compared to just a quarter who have said it’s made them proud.

These three NBC/Marist polls were conducted August 13-17 — after the Aug. 12 unrest and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the midst of Trump’s multiple responses to the events.

In Michigan, 36 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance (including 19 percent who strongly approve), while 55 percent disapprove (including 40 percent who strongly do).

In Pennsylvania, 35 percent give the president’s job a thumbs up (17 percent strongly), versus 54 percent who disapprove (41 percent strongly).

And in Wisconsin, 34 percent of voters approve of Trump (17 percent strongly), compared with 56 percent who disapprove (42 percent strongly).

(…)

Asked if Trump’s conduct as president made them proud or embarrassed them, 64 percent of voters in Michigan and Wisconsin say they’ve been embarrassed, while 63 percent say that in Pennsylvania.

Yet Trump gets higher marks on the economy in all three states.

In Michigan, voters by a 42-to-39 percent margin say the U.S. economy has been strengthened by Trump’s decisions as president. In Pennsylvania, it’s 45 percent to 38 percent. And in Wisconsin, it’s dead even at 41 percent each.

But the president’s standing is much lower when it comes to international affairs: Six in 10 voters in all three states believe the United States’ role on the world stage has been weakened under Trump.

As I have noted before, these three states were key to Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in November, and together they would have given Clinton a small Electoral College win had they gone the other way. In Wisconsin, where Trump’s approval now stands and 34% approve and 56% disapprove, Trump won by a 22,748 vote margin (47.22% for Trump and 46.45% for Clinton). In Michigan, where the President’s approval now stands at 36% approve and 55% disapprove, Trump won by 10,704 votes (47.50% for Trump and 47.22% for Clinton. And in Pennsylvania, where the President’s approval now stands 35% approve and 54% disapprove, Trump won by 44,292 votes (48.18% for Trump and 47.46% for Clinton). As I’ve noted before, that’s 77,744 total votes whose combined 46 Electoral votes put Trump over the top and gave him a narrow Electoral College win of 304 to Clinton’s 227. Had those three states gone the other way, Clinton would have won the Electoral College with 273 votes to Trump’s 258.Looking at the national numbers, the results in these three states actually put Trump in a worse position than he appears to be according to the poll averages. In the RealClearPolitics average, Trump stands at 39% approve and 55.1% disapprove. In the Pollster average, the President stands at 36,7% approve and 57.7% disapprove.

On paper at least, these numbers don’t seem to bode well for the Trump Presidency in the short-term at the very least and could pose problems for Republicans in November 2018 unless we see a significant turnaround in political fortunes. Most significantly, of course, they suggest that Trump has lost support among supporters that were in his column in November but who have drifted away over the past seven months. Why this has happened is less clear, but it’s likely that at least part of what we’re seeing is disappointment on the part of some segment of the voters who supported Trump and ended up giving him the narrow win that put him in the Oval Office. If that’s the case, it’s certainly understandable. Outside of the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which was largely guaranteed thanks to Republican control of the Senate, and the passage of legislation by Congress that repealed some Obama-era regulations, very little of the agenda that Trump campaigned on has been achieved and much of it is in limbo or unlikely to move forward in the near future. Obamacare has not been ‘repealed and replaced,’ thanks to the failure of the Senate to agree on a bill that could garner the support of even fifty Republican Senators. The border wall is not being built, which Trump said would be addressed immediately upon his taking office and would be paid for by Mexico, seems unlikely to be funded sufficiently in the budget that must be passed by September 30th with anything but token funding. Tax reform hasn’t even moved into Congress’s consciousness yet and seems likely to take a back seat in September as it deals with issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling. Similarly, we haven’t gotten a real infrastructure proposal from the White House, and things certainly weren’t helped in this area when the events in Charlottesville led the President to react in a way that many found shocking in both his initial comments and a follow-up. While there’s still a lot of time between now and the 2018 midterms, what are typically the most productive days of a new Presidency have been wasted thanks in no small part to the President himself. Given that, it’s no surprise that Trump’s support has fallen in states that, before 2016, have leaned Democratic in Presidential elections since at least 1992.

While things don’t look good for Trump based on numbers like this, they should also give Democrats and others who oppose the Administration reason to restrain what in some cases seems to me to be premature optimism regarding the outcome of about the 2018 midterm and 2020 Presidential election. Notwithstanding how badly he is doing in his job, and the historically bad impact that this has had on his job approval number, Trump has not lost the support of his core supporters. In both these states and nationally, there does seem to be a core level of support for him that will stand with him no matter what that represents just a bit over 1/3 of the electorate. While this certainly isn’t a majority, and wouldn’t be enough to win re-election if they translated into election results, they do give Trump what seems to be a stable base to build upon. If he can build on these numbers over the coming years even by a small fraction, it could be enough to stave off disaster for the Republican Party. With respect to the 2018 midterms, this means that hopes for the kind of wave election that would give Democrats control of one or both houses of Congress may be premature at this point. This is especially true given the fact turnout in midterms tends to favor Republicans. With respect to the 2020 elections, it’s simply far too early to say for sure what will happen over the next thirty-nine months and how it could impact everything from turnout to the public’s perception of the Administration. As things stand right now, though, the trends don’t look good and it’s going to take some work and a lot of luck for the Administration to fix what’s gone wrong.

1 These numbers do not add up to the full 538 vote membership of the Electoral College due to the fact that there was a total of seven “faithless electors” when the Electoral College votes were counted by Congress in January of this year.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    I wonder how the Breitbart-Mercer War against the administration will affect this. A fight has already erupted between the pro-Bannon Trumpkins and the anti-Bannon Trumpkins.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. teve tory says:

    Trump has not lost the support of his core supporters. In both these states and nationally, there does seem to be a core level of support for him that will stand with him no matter what that represents just a bit over 1/3 of the electorate. While this certainly isn’t a majority, and wouldn’t be enough to win re-election if they translated into election results, they do give Trump what seems to be a stable base to build upon. If he can build on these numbers over the coming years even by a small fraction, it could be enough to stave off disaster for the Republican Party. With respect to the 2018 midterms, this means that hopes for the kind of wave election that would give Democrats control of one or both houses of Congress may be premature at this point.

    I’m sure that floor has always been there for republicans, but we didn’t notice it because no republican had hit it.

    The party of the incumbent president tends to lose ground during midterm elections: over the past 21 midterm elections, the President’s party has lost an average 30 seats in the House, and an average 4 seats in the Senate;

    And i’ve read that when the prez is underwater in popularity, it’s 36 in the House. The GOP is currently up by 23 IIRC, so the House should flip. Sadly, the senate probly won’t, and so if Kennedy/RBG/Breyer retire, the 5th Federalist Society judge will land on the SCOTUS, and we’re back to fights about whether Birth Control is legal or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. James Joyner says:

    There is some apples/oranges comparison here, as occurred to me when the Morning Joe gang was discussing this this morning. The result of last November’s election and Trump’s popularity aren’t the same thing. Indeed, Hillary was more popular in all three states than Trump on Election Day. Voting behavior correlates with public approval but they’re not the same thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. al-Ameda says:

    While things don’t look good for Trump based on numbers like this, they should also give Democrats and others who oppose the Administration reason to restrain what in some cases seems to me to be premature optimism regarding the outcome of about the 2018 midterm and 2020 Presidential election.

    There are two reasons why Democrats should neither be complacent, nor optimistic:

    (1) The very fact that Trump was elected in the first place.

    (2) There is no such thing as an enduring “wisdom of the people,” and how do we know this? See number (1). Some times the American people collectively have wisdom, much of the time we do not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Gallup Daily Tracking has Trump’s approval among Republicans down to 79% from 87 five weeks ago. That’s a breakthrough. It had been hovering steadily in the mid 80s for months.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Jen says:

    It sounds like much of his staying power in those states will rest on the economy. If the US defaults on its debt obligations, that will be a problem. If the market hits a long overdue correction, that will be a problem. His fate rests essentially on the stock market’s behavior, which is an odd thing to consider.

    Meanwhile, the Secret Service has already blown through their whole budget for the year and some agents are essentially working without getting paid right now.

    I continue to be astonished at the hot mess this administration has turned out to be. I don’t know why it should surprise me, but what a wreck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I read about the Secret Service running out of money. I also vividly recall Trump criticizing Obama for taking so many vacations.

    I’m not surprised that this “administration” is a disaster area. I had no expectations of anything else from a buffoon/thug who has absolutely no idea what he’s doing and thinks work consists of Tweeting and watching cable television.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Kylopod says:

    @James Joyner:

    Indeed, Hillary was more popular in all three states than Trump on Election Day. Voting behavior correlates with public approval but they’re not the same thing.

    Yeah, that occurred to me, and I’ve made this point before when the subject of Trump’s low approval ratings comes up. I think what was happening in the election was that people with a negative opinion of Trump were likelier to vote for him than people with a negative opinion of Clinton were to vote for her. In other words, people with a negative opinion of Clinton were likelier to punish her for it in the voting booth. That enabled the candidate with lower favorability ratings to receive more votes in the crucial states.

    All that said, given how narrow his victory in each of those states were, even a tiny dropoff in his support would have been fatal. The bottom line is that the coalition that brought him to power is extremely fragile, and he can’t afford to lose even small portions of it. Presidents who win reelection almost invariably expand on the support they got the first time around. (Obama is a major exception to that rule; however, he came to office by such a comfortable margin that he could afford to lose quite a bit of it and still retain a popular and electoral majority.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: One of the ironies of the situation is that the GOP probably stands a better chance politically if much of their agenda doesn’t pass, because much of their agenda is likely to hurt the economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    So Trump really can’t afford to alienate his Nazi fan club, can he?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: That may be good snark, but the fact is that his electoral victory absolutely depended upon support from outside his Nazi fan club, including many voters who were extremely hesitant about voting for him. After the last few weeks he’s probably more popular than ever among the Goebbels bloc, and yet it hasn’t helped his standing with the general populace at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. KM says:

    The fact is life isn’t getting any better for these voters. In fact, it’s getting worse. Trump promised jobs to the “economically anxious” and to kill the evul libtard Obamacare that was costing them money. He’s done neither. Oh, he offers good fluff about how much the people they don’t like suck but when that bank account remains empty, all the fluff in the world won’t stop the grousing. Questions like:

    – Where’s all the manufacturing he promised?
    – Wages aren’t going up but Wall Street’s making a killing. WTF?
    – They said relaxing environmental regs would make stuff cheaper and give more jobs. Where?
    – Why are my insurance premiums and deductibles still so high?
    – Why are houses so expensive? (granted, this a millennial one but if they don’t start buying up Boomer houses it will lead to another crisis)
    – The opioid crisis is making it harder for us to find jobs. What’s he gonna do about that?

    They gave him a chance and expect some results. After all, they control it all so aren’t things getting noticeably better? The economy is going to be what drives the 2018 GOP losses. Outrage burns out but that bill still needs to be paid and there’s no money in the bank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Of course. I wonder: Does he realize how much he’s dwindled in the regard of those who are not the spiritual sons and daughters of David Duke and Richard Spencer?

    Susan Collins today expressed reservations that he would be the nominee in 2020.

    It will be interesting to see how his pep rally in Phoenix goes tomorrow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I don’t know that he realizes any of it because he’s encased himself in a bubble where anything outside the Fox/Breitbart universe (and even Fox probably looks a bit suspect to him at this point) is “fake news” to be discounted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    That’s the sort of happenings which just makes one want to tap dance down the street 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Mr. Prosser says:

    @James Joyner: @Jen: @KM: Economics may be part of it but agree with Michael Moore when he predicted Clinton would lose that it wasn’t all the economy. Charlie Pierce put it succinctly when he wrote that the white working class wanted to and did “hock a big ol’ loogie at the elites and political class.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Economics may be part of it but agree with Michael Moore when he predicted Clinton would lose that it wasn’t all the economy.

    Let me stop you right there.

    It may not have gotten a lot of attention at the time, but most forecasts by political scientists (which totally ignore who the candidates are and focus on such matters as the economy and how long the incumbent party has been in power) suggested 2016 would either be a toss-up or lean-Republican year. Alan Abramowitz’s model suggested a Republican should win the 2016 presidential election. Abramowitz argued that he thought the model would fail due to Trump. Obviously he and others overestimated the impact of Trump’s deficiencies on the electorate. But the point is that the fundamentals of 2016 were fairly favorable to Republicans, with or without Trump as the nominee. Note that in states and districts that Trump won, Republican candidates running for other offices generally scored stronger victories. In other words, Trump underperformed for a Republican candidate in 2016.

    The mistake so many analysts make is to interpret Trump’s victory purely in terms of his Trumpiness and not in terms of his being a Republican in a year when Republicans were generally favored–and that’s without even getting into Hillary’s weaknesses as a candidate.

    Moore is capitalizing on the fact that he predicted a Trump victory, but this is less than meets the eye. First of all, his argument was that Trump was likely to win, and the fact is that he was wrong about that. Trump wasn’t likely to win. Trump did win, but that doesn’t prove it was a likely event. That’s one of the things people don’t understand about probability; unlikely events sometimes happen, and the fact that they happen doesn’t prove that they were likely. If you’re flipping a coin and someone says you’re going to get three heads in a row, and you do, that doesn’t make the person a prophet, it makes the person lucky.

    Now in fairness to Moore, he did specifically predict that the Rust Belt states would break for Trump, at a time when many people (including me) were pooh-poohing the idea. Given Moore’s background as a Michigan native whose father was in manufacturing, I think he showed some genuine insight into the behavior of these voters.

    But the fact is that there was nothing inevitable about an outcome that depended on 80,000 voters in three states breaking for Trump while he lost the national popular vote by 3 million. For instance, if turnout from African American voters in the crucial states had increased by just 1%, she’d have won the election, even if the white working class totals had remained absolutely the same. In short, Trump was right on the knife’s edge of defeat. It reminds me of the story about how someone after the 1960 election told Bobby Kennedy he was a genius, and he replied “Change 60,000 votes and I’m a bum.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. Argon says:

    Trump’s Job Approval Upside Down In The Three States That Gave Him The Presidency

    I would think, ‘finally rightside-up’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: Unfortunately, the Fox News brigade believes these things have already happened. I remember earlier in the year when the NYT interviewed a Trump supporter and she praised “Trumpcare” because when her brother lost his job his health insurance costs went down sign significantly, not like what would have happened under that no good Obamacare.*

    *Just for the sake of the Fox News brigade if any of them read the comments of this blog: it was actually Obamacare that her brother was benefitting from. There is no Trumpcare. BTW, if anyone here watches Fox, do some of their talking heads claim that there is such a thing as Trumpcare?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Kylopod: I chose Moore because he pointed out the attitudes in the rust belt states associated with this post and working class attitudes in the nation. I live in a part of the country that relies on resource extraction for good paying jobs. Most of the workers here were employed during the election and went for Trump because he put his thumb in everybody’s eye not because they thought he would really help them. The majority of them are sharp and know their livelihoods are going to disappear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. dmichael says:

    I return to this theme because I see comments attempting to either explain Trump voters or convince us that sufficient negative reinforcement will change their opinions about Trump. Both assume a level of cognitive functioning in Trump voters that for the most part, doesn’t exist. Even the execrable Matthew Dowd has now figured out that “both sides do it” doesn’t apply to these voters when polls show that NOTHING Trump does will alter their support. They simply will not connect their bad condition with what Trump is doing or not doing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Kevin Drum has a post today that explains a lot about the 2016 election. Someone scrubbed the web for stories during the campaign on Trump and Clinton. This, of course, includes the web sites of mainstream sources. They found that coverage of Hillary was largely negative. Coverage of Trump was also often negative, but reflected his agenda. They found almost 70,000 sentences on Hillary’s email and about 23,000 on the Clinton Foundation. The Trump Foundation, which actually was crooked, got around 9,000 sentences of coverage. .

    Drum includes one of the typical over the top NYT front pages slamming Hillary. The Times seems determined to bend over backwards to placate conservatives. I don’t know if this is pressure from the owners, fear of Tea Party letter writers, a weird attempt to improve circulation, successful working of the refs by the conservative infrastructure, or what? I hope Trump has cured them of it, but I doubt it.

    (I’m taking Drum’s summary at face value, although these numbers seem low.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Kylopod says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    I chose Moore because he pointed out the attitudes in the rust belt states associated with this post and working class attitudes in the nation.

    I get that, but what concerns me is that certain commentators who showed some insight into Trump in last year’s election are trying to capitalize on their position to gain publicity for themselves. Moore (who has always been a shameless publicity hound) has been claiming ever since Trump’s election that Trump won’t last out a term, with the implication that “I was right about him winning, so I must be right about this too.” Tony Schwartz claims Trump will be gone in the next 30 days and will certainly not last the year. Maybe he’s right, but frankly, I’m extremely skeptical. If it happens I will happily eat crow and acknowledge that these men knew what they were talking about. But I think there’s a big danger that some Dems are being lured by false prophets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: I agree with Drum’s analysis, and I think it ties into something I’ve been arguing for a while, which is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the main reason Trump won wasn’t because of his particular strengths as a candidate, but because he was essentially turned into a Generic Republican. In other words, he won in spite of his Trumpiness, not because of it. The media didn’t flinch from portraying him as the freak show he was; in fact they took great pleasure at it. But they also were engaged in a wild effort at false equivalence, by creating a narrative in which Hillary’s flaws were roughly equivalent to his. It’s a habit that they’ve had for a long time (it was a major factor in the 2000 election), but here it was also a fundamental moral failure, because they took the most obviously unfit candidate in history, a completely unqualified racist demagogue, and managed to incorporate him into a traditional horse-race narrative. They’re on autopilot when it comes to covering elections, bending reality so that it always fits into their pre-conceived stereotypes of a contest between two equally flawed candidates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I remember earlier in the year when the NYT interviewed a Trump supporter and she praised “Trumpcare” because when her brother lost his job his health insurance costs went down sign significantly, not like what would have happened under that no good Obamacare.

    A few months ago Vox interviewed some Kentucky voters who were on Obamacare but who had voted for Trump. In this case, they knew they were benefiting from Obamacare, sometimes depending on it. The rationalizations they gave in the article were fascinating. First, they didn’t think Trump was serious when he pledged to repeal Obamacare. (In a sense they were right, but only because Trump isn’t serious about anything. The repeal effort looks to be dead now, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.) Second, they believed he would ultimately improve the law.

    It goes along with the sad story of Elizabeth Hilsabeck, the Texas woman who voted for Bush even while knowing perfectly well that he had opposed–and lied about opposing–her life’s work as a tireless advocate for a patient’s bill of rights. Politics these days is to a large extent a matter of cultural identity. These voters aren’t persuadable for the most part, and we shouldn’t spend too much energy trying to persuade them. There are easier targets to shoot for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. MarkedMan says:

    I think the reason’s Trump won’t resign are pretty obvious, starting with not wanting to let the b*stards win. It’s interesting to think about the reasons he might resign though

    1) Deal with Mueller to stay out of jail
    2) Finding out that the presidency is costing him significant income. Loss of revenue in existing properties but, more importantly, I wonder just how many people are knocking on his door to license the Trump name nowadays?
    3) He wants to dump Melania but feels constrained by the politics of it
    4) He misses the extra ass he was getting on the side and finds it difficult to sneak them in. (Actually, I’ve suspected this is why he spends so much time at his hotels and golf courses and so little time at the WH)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    He is indeed losing income; nineteen charities (so far) have canceled events at Mar-a-Lago at an average of $250,000 apiece.

    Melania? He predicted in 2004 (the year they married) that “of course” the marriage wouldn’t last. She’s 47. His official cut-off age for female desirability is 35.

    Prison? Felix Sater says Trump’s inevitably going there.

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