Date June 20, 2017
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Poll: Trump’s support declining in swing districts, gaining in Republican strongholds

A new survey by Brown’s Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy also finds low confidence in Congress, widespread support for healthcare for all.

Susan Moffitt
Susan Moffitt, the incoming director of the Taubman Center, noted that areas that swung from Democratic to Republican in the 2016 presidential election are moving back into the blue column, and that while confidence in Congress overall is abysmal, GOP congressional candidates are losing support in all areas polled except the rural Midwestern sample in Iowa.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —A new poll conducted by the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs reveals evidence of voters in swing districts moving away from President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans, while support for the president and GOP in Republican strongholds remains steady.

“A deeper analysis into five distinct locales across the country suggests areas that swung from Obama to Trump appear to be moving back into the blue column, while traditionally Republican strongholds are solidifying behind the President,” said Susan Moffitt, incoming director of the Taubman Center.

The poll, conducted June 10-15, was fielded by RABA Research, a bipartisan polling firm, in collaboration with Brown University, and is a follow-up to an April survey.

Like the spring poll, the new survey focused on five distinct geographies with different recent voting patterns – including two areas that voted for Obama in 2012 but for Trump in 2016. The five areas include working class suburbs in Rhode Island, wealthy suburbs in Colorado, rural areas in Iowa, diverse rural areas in North and South Carolina and upper middle class exurbs in Pennsylvania.

Results underscore that President Trump is losing support in locales like the working-class suburb of Kent County, Rhode Island, that switched from the Democratic to the Republican column in the November 2016 election. In Kent County, those responding that President Trump is doing an “excellent” job fell from 30 percent to 23 percent.

But the president is gaining support in places that traditionally vote Republican, like rural Midwestern Iowa, where those responding that President Trump is doing an “excellent” job rose from 25 percent to 29 percent.

“Even more striking are the numbers showing dissatisfaction with Congress,” Moffitt said.

Fewer than one in five respondents across all five locales polled said they have confidence in Congress to act in the best interest of the country. Everywhere but in the rural Midwestern sample in Iowa, support for a GOP Congressional candidate on a generic ballot has fallen.

In the places that switched from Obama to Trump, net support for a generic Republican relative to a Democrat slipped six percentage points in Kent County, Rhode Island, and 11 percentage points in the North Carolina and South Carolina sample. The generic Democrat relative to the generic Republican also gained five percentage points in the middle-class exurb outside Philadelphia which polled for Romney and then 2016 Democratic president candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The June poll also questioned voters on healthcare, climate change, education funding, Trump’s immigration executive order, or “travel ban,” and attitudes about alleged Trump ties to Russia.

Among these, one area of broad agreement is healthcare.

The poll shows a strong majority of Americans everywhere believe that “the nation has a moral responsibility to provide healthcare to all Americans.” But there is less consensus about how that health care should be provided.

“Americans seem to share the view that the nation has a responsibility to provide healthcare, a striking change when you consider the heated debates around healthcare during Obama’s first term. But partisan divides continue to play a strong role in influencing voter opinion,” Moffitt added.

Voters are increasingly opposed to proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but they are powerfully influenced by whether the existing health care law is referred to as the ACA or by its nickname, “Obamacare.”

While a plurality of Iowan voters responding to the Taubman Center’s April poll supported getting rid of the ACA, a plurality in June now opposes the same proposal.

But when the phrase “Affordable Care Act” is switched out for “Obamacare,” support for repeal grows—often dramatically. While only 36 percent of these Iowa voters support “getting rid of the Affordable Care Act,” 54 percent support “getting rid of Obamacare.”

On the question of whether the president has ties to Russia that threaten America’s interests, respondents from areas that switched from red to blue, like Chester County, Pennsylvania or blue to red, like diverse rural areas in North and South Carolina, between 2012 and 2016 answered that the narrative had gained credibility in the last two months, while respondents in reliably Democratic or reliably Republican areas were either convinced or unconvinced, respectively.

The poll also found broad consensus on questions relevant to education and climate change.

School vouchers—which the survey described as proposals to give “parents taxpayer money to help pay for their children’s private and perhaps religious school” are unpopular everywhere—even places that voted for President Trump.

And a plurality of voters in every type of community responded that they believe that humans are causing climate change.

“Despite the partisan divides that shape political discourse, certain issues pierce red and blue bubbles and reveal common ground among Americans,” Moffitt said.