August 20, 2017
8/20: Return to the Rust Belt: Dismal Job Approval Ratings for Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania, & Wisconsin
In the 2016 presidential election, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin accounted for a combined 46 electoral votes which helped propel Donald Trump into the White House. But, how do residents of these Rust Belt states think President Trump is doing now?
In each of these states, majorities disapprove of the president’s job performance. His approval rating hovers in only the mid-thirties. In Michigan, 36% of residents statewide approve of his job performance, and 55% disapprove. In Pennsylvania, 33% approve of how President Trump is doing in his post, and 52% disapprove. Among Wisconsin residents, the president’s score is similarly upside down, 33% to 56%.
“For residents of these three critical electoral states, the reaction to the first round of the Trump presidency is decidedly negative,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Residents are clearly dissatisfied in how candidate Trump transitioned into President Trump.”
Many Republicans and Tea Party supporters are in the president’s camp. Still, notable proportions of Tea Party supporters in Michigan, 24%, and Pennsylvania, 24%, have doubts about how the president is executing his job.
Trump still has the support of most of those who backed him in the 2016 election. Most Trump supporters in Michigan, 84%, Pennsylvania, 81%, and Wisconsin, 77%, approve of the president’s job performance.
Among white residents without a college education, President Trump outperforms his overall job performance rating in each of these states. However, he fails to achieve 50% among this group, many of whom were his most ardent supporters in the 2016 election. In fact, in Michigan and Wisconsin, the plurality of these residents now disapprove of how the president is doing his job.
By at least two to one, more residents in Michigan, 38%, Pennsylvania, 39%, and Wisconsin, 42%, strongly disapprove than strongly approve of how the president is doing his job. Only 19% of residents in Michigan, 16% of those in Pennsylvania, and 16% of Wisconsin adults strongly approve of how the president is performing in office.
President Trump’s favorable ratings are upside down. 59% of Michigan residents, 55% of those in Pennsylvania, and 61% of adults in Wisconsin have an unfavorable opinion of President Trump.
President Trump campaigned on the promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, but is he winning or losing on that pledge? In Pennsylvania, a majority of residents, 51%, say Trump is failing on this issue, and nearly half of those in Wisconsin, 48%, and Michigan, 47%, agree.
In all three states, at least two-thirds of Trump supporters, Tea Party supporters, and Republicans believe the president is winning on this issue.
In Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, less than half of white residents without a college education believe President Trump is holding up his end of the deal on jobs. In each of these states, these residents divide.
On the larger issue of the economy, the plurality of residents in Pennsylvania, 44%, perceive the president’s decisions to be strengthening the economy, and 37% think he is weakening it. In Michigan, 42% to 39%, and Wisconsin, 41% to 41%, adults divide. Of note, approximately one in five residents in each of these states are unsure.
Residents of these Rust Belt states may be giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt on the economy, but they are not giving him a pass on how he is performing on the world stage. In each of these states, 59% say the president’s decisions have weakened the global image of the United States.
Many question President Trump’s ability to lead during an international crisis. About six in ten residents in Michigan, 59%, Pennsylvania, 60%, and Wisconsin, 64%, have little or no confidence in President Trump to lead the nation in a time of heightened global tensions. In each of these three states, more than one in five Tea Party supporters do not trust Trump to lead during an international crisis. Of note, 30% of Tea Party supporters in Pennsylvania have little or no confidence in the president to do so.
Do residents of these states feel proud or embarrassed by the actions of President Trump? More than six in ten adults in Michigan, 64%, Pennsylvania, 62%, and Wisconsin, 64%, say they are embarrassed. Notable proportions within the president’s base share these views. This includes majorities of white residents without a college education in Michigan, 55%, and Wisconsin, 57%, and nearly half of those in Pennsylvania, 49%.
Two-thirds of Trump supporters in Michigan, 67%, and about six in ten of those in Pennsylvania, 57%, and Wisconsin, 61%, say they voted for Donald Trump and not against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest. Among Clinton supporters, about six in ten in Michigan, 61%, Pennsylvania, 61% and Wisconsin, 60%, say they cast their ballot for Clinton because they were for her and not against Trump.
With the 2018 elections in the not too distant future, the Republican brand is at a critical point. Majorities of residents in Michigan, 55%, Pennsylvania, 57%, and Wisconsin, 56%, have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP. Only a plurality of Republicans and Republican leaning independents in Michigan, 48%, Pennsylvania, 44%, and Wisconsin, 46%, think President Trump is doing more to unite than divide the Republican Party.
“Problems with the GOP brand are seen in how the party’s rank and file view the president’s ability to bring their party together,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Although more Republicans and Republican leaning independents think Trump is uniting the party, only slightly fewer in each state think he is dividing it.”
The Democrats are also viewed unfavorably by residents in these states. However, they do not fare as poorly as the GOP. 42% of Michigan adults have a favorable view of the Democratic Party while 44% have an unfavorable one. In Pennsylvania, the party’s score is upside down, 41% to 45%. The same is true in Wisconsin where 39% of adults have a positive impression of the Democratic Party, and 47% do not.
Looking ahead to next year’s congressional elections, pluralities of registered voters in Michigan, 48%, Pennsylvania, 47%, and Wisconsin, 46%, would like the Democrats to win control of the Congress. Attitudes divide along party lines with pluralities of independents reporting they would prefer a Democratic Congress. Of note, more than one in four independents in Michigan, 28%, Pennsylvania, 26%, and Wisconsin, 28%, are undecided.
When it comes to residents’ impressions of political figures in Michigan, 38% have a favorable opinion of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. 31% have an unfavorable view of her, and 31% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate her. There has been much speculation about a possible Senate run by Robert Ritchie known as “Kid Rock.” Among adults in Michigan, 38% have a favorable impression of Ritchie. 32% have an unfavorable view of him, and 30% have either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate Ritchie.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s favorable score is upside down. A plurality of adults in the state, 47%, have an unfavorable view of him, and 37% have a positive one. 16% do not have an opinion of Snyder.
In Pennsylvania, 37% of adults statewide have a positive impression of U.S. Senator Bob Casey. 26% have a negative one, and 38% have either never heard of Casey or are unsure how to rate him. U.S. Representative Lou Barletta is little known to Pennsylvania residents. 74% say they have either never heard of Barletta or are unsure how to rate him. 16% have an unfavorable opinion of him, and 10% have a positive view.
Looking at the favorable score of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, nearly half of adults statewide, 46%, have a positive opinion of him, and 35% perceive him unfavorably. 19% do not have an impression of Wolf.
In Wisconsin, 38% have a positive opinion of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. 33% have an unfavorable one, and 30% have either never heard of her or are unsure how to rate Baldwin.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s favorable score is upside, 39% to 53%. Seven percent have either never heard of Walker or are unsure how to rate him.
Former President Barack Obama is perceived favorably by more than six in ten residents in Michigan, 64%, Pennsylvania, 62%, and Wisconsin, 61%. Though his favorable rating is not as high as that of President Obama, former presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is viewed favorably by majorities of residents in Michigan, 56%, Pennsylvania, 51%, and Wisconsin, 54%.