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How Trump’s Popularity Is Holding Up, By State

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

Let’s keep things simple this week: Morning Consult just released its latest edition of President Trump’s approval ratings by state. We know generally that Trump is less popular overall than at the start of his term. But there are pretty wide variations in how much his popularity has shifted by state.1

1. Trump’s net approval has declined in all 50 states since he took office

This isn’t totally surprising, as Trump’s net approval rating — the percentage of people who approve of the president minus the percentage who disapprove — has declined nationally since January 2017. But it’s still noteworthy. It often seems as if American politics is split between two immutable camps: Trump loyalists and Trump haters, and neither group ever changes its mind about anything. But the data here suggests more fluidity — and in Trump’s case, the movement is against him. Trump does have near-ironclad support (close to 90 percent approval, according to Gallup) among self-described Republicans nationally. But a Gallup poll conducted last year found that only about 40 percent of U.S. adults identify themselves as either Republicans or leaning toward the GOP. So that remaining 60 percent of the U.S. that identifies as Democrats and independents is likely where Trump has grown more unpopular.

How Trump’s net approval rating has changed, by state
Net Approval
state Jan. 2017 May 2018 CHANGE
New Mexico +17 -14 -31
Illinois +9 -22 -31
New York +8 -21 -29
D.C. -31 -58 -27
Utah +27 0 -27
Vermont -2 -27 -25
Delaware +8 -17 -25
Washington +1 -23 -24
Oklahoma +34 +11 -23
Massachusetts -4 -26 -22
Connecticut +5 -16 -21
Montana +24 +3 -21
Oregon +2 -19 -21
Rhode Island -4 -24 -20
Kentucky +34 +15 -19
Arizona +20 +2 -18
Minnesota +3 -15 -18
New Jersey +2 -16 -18
Ohio +14 -4 -18
Wisconsin +6 -12 -18
Alaska +24 +7 -17
Colorado +1 -16 -17
Florida +22 +5 -17
North Dakota +23 +6 -17
Nebraska +23 +6 -17
Arkansas +30 +13 -17
Michigan +8 -9 -17
Kansas +24 +8 -16
New Hampshire +1 -15 -16
Iowa +9 -7 -16
North Carolina +18 +2 -16
Texas +20 +5 -15
California -6 -21 -15
Indiana +22 +8 -14
Maine +8 -6 -14
Missouri +19 +5 -14
Pennsylvania +10 -4 -14
Virginia +8 -6 -14
Tennessee +33 +20 -13
Hawaii -13 -26 -13
Idaho +29 +16 -13
Nevada +10 -2 -12
Wyoming +40 +28 -12
Georgia +18 +7 -11
Mississippi +34 +23 -11
South Carolina +25 +14 -11
West Virginia +37 +27 -10
Maryland -13 -20 -7
South Dakota +21 +14 -7
Alabama +36 +30 -6
Louisiana +31 +25 -6

Source: Morning Consult

The states where Trump’s numbers have tanked the most among registered voters are fairly liberal: Illinois and New Mexico. But even in Louisiana, where Trump has seen the smallest decline, he has dipped 6 percentage points in net approval (from 59 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove in January 2017, to 60-35 in May 2018).

All that said, Trump’s approval declining in every state isn’t as bad for the president as you might think. According to Gallup, Obama’s approval rating dropped in all 50 states from 2009 to 2010, again as part of his general decline in popularity. Most presidents’ popularity peaks as they start their tenures.2

2. Trump has seen big declines in some red states but not others

Eight of the 10 states (I’m treating Washington, D.C., as a state for these purposes.) where Trump’s net approval declined the most are places where the president lost in 2016. But his popularity has plunged more in ruby-red Utah (-27 points), Oklahoma (-23) and Montana (-21) than in swingy Colorado (-17) and blue California (-15). (Trump of course started with pretty lackluster numbers California and Colorado, so he had more room to fall in the red states.) That said, his numbers have held up much better in states such as South Carolina (-11), West Virginia (-10) and South Dakota (-7).

Trump was always politically weak in Utah for a Republican. But I will be curious to see if other polls continue to find the president in such decline in some of these red states. His disapproval rating in Oklahoma is 42 percent, according to Morning Consult; it’s 40 percent in Kentucky. (He won more than 60 percent of the vote in both states in 2016.)

3. The Deep South is stable in its views on Trump

The 10 states were Trump’s numbers are closest to where they were in January 2017 include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

I expected this, as these are fairly inelastic states overall, meaning that they have very few swing voters. All five states have large black populations that overwhelmingly vote Democratic and white populations that overwhelmingly vote Republican. Take Georgia, for example: Trump started off there with 53 percent approval and 35 percent disapproval, and it looks like the state’s Democrats have united in hating him over the last 17 months (taking him to 44 percent disapproval) but Republicans haven’t moved, so his approval rate is at 51 percent.

Other polling nuggets

  • Good news for Democrats in a key battleground state where they lost in 2016. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio well ahead in his re-election race against his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, 51-34. The same poll showed the Democratic candidate for governor in Ohio, Richard Cordray, effectively tied with his Republican opponent, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine — Cordray led 42-40.
  • A Cincinnati Enquirer/Suffolk University poll of Ohio out this week shows similar results, but they are even better for Democrats in the gubernatorial race. In that poll of likely voters, Cordray had a 43-36 lead over DeWine, and Brown had a 53-37 advantage over Renacci.
  • In Pennsylvania, another key battleground state the Democrats lost in 2016, a new Franklin and Marshall College poll shows Democratic Sen. Bob Casey ahead 44-27 over his challenger, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta. Gov. Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, had a 48-29 lead in his re-election campaign against his Republican opponent, former state Sen. Scott Wagner, according to this survey.
  • A YouGov poll found that about half of Americans (including about 3 in 4 Republicans and about 1 in 4 Democrats) support proposals to increase surveillance of American Muslims, including at mosques within the U.S. and at U.S. airports. Those numbers are consistent with YouGov’s findings in July of 2017.
  • The Republican tax plan that was passed into law in December faces more opposition than support according to a new Public Policy Polling survey. Fifty-one percent of respondents said that the plan would mostly benefit the rich, 30 percent said it would benefit the middle class, and only 7 percent said it would mostly benefit the poor.
  • About half of Americans believe that within the next 50 years, people will routinely travel to space as tourists, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Fifty-eight percent, however, said they would not be interested a space vacation, while 42 percent would.
  • 21 percent of registered voters believe that it is legally permissible for the president to pardon himself, according to a poll by Morning Consult; 58 percent believe it is not legal.3
  • According to a PPP poll, 37 percent of registered voters believe that the FBI put a spy in Donald Trump’s campaign for president, 42 percent believe the agency did not spy on the campaign, and 22 percent are not sure. Predictably, that number is split along party lines, with 60 percent of Republicans believing the assertion, which the president calls “Spygate.”
  • 58 percent of Americans (43 percent of Democrats and 81 percent of Republicans) believe that the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s a 9-percentage-point decrease in Democrats who believe a rich class is beneficial since 2012. Still, Democrats are just as likely as Republicans to want to be rich.
  • According to a YouGov poll, a majority of Americans (53 percent) said they know what the letters in “LGBTQ” stand for; 80 percent said they know the meaning of “LGBT,” but only 13 percent said they know “LGBTQIA.” Respondents were evenly divided on the question of whether having a term for people with non-cisgender and non-heterosexual identities is important or not.
  • 71 percent of Americans support allowing people under 30 who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay, according to a Fox News poll. That number remains unchanged since January.
  • A Pew Research Center study analyzed 102 countries and found an inverse correlation between the GDP of a country and the percent of people who said they pray daily. The U.S., however, is a big outlier — the only country with a GDP of over $30,000 per capita where more than half of the adult population reported praying daily.

Trump approval

The president’s approval (42 percent) and disapproval (52 percent) ratings are about the same as this time last month.

Generic ballot

The Democrats have an 8 percentage-point edge on the generic congressional ballot, up from a 6-point advantage this time last month.

Footnotes

  1. There are not many other recent polls of Trump’s standing in all U.S. states, so we can’t easily compare Morning Consult’s data to other surveys.

  2. Of course, Obama’s approval rating was 58 percent in 2009 (calculated for the calendar year) and 47 percent in 2010, so he had more room to fall than Trump. Trump’s aides would probably love for him to be at 47 percent.

  3. A PPP poll this week also showed a similar result, with 20 percent believing the president has the right to pardon himself and 65 percent believing he does not.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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