Poll Finds Trump Staring Into Statistical Abyss, Especially in Suburbia

October 29, 2019 by Dan McCue
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 2019. (Pool/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Unfavorable feelings about President Donald Trump are growing despite a strong economy, and his biggest weakness heading into the 2020 election may well be the suburbs, a new poll finds.

The Grinnell College National Poll is a partnership between Grinnell College in Iowa and the respected pollster J. Ann Selzer, of Selzer & Company.

It shows that just 32% of all suburban voters now say they would definitely vote to re-elect the president, while 14% said they would consider someone else, and 51% said they’d definitely vote for a candidate other than Trump.

Suburban women appear to be particularly ready to express their dissatisfaction, with 88% saying they will definitely vote in the 2020 presidential election.

That’s 10 percentage points higher than voters overall.

More broadly, more than half of U.S. residents — 56% — say their feelings toward Trump have become “more unfavorable” since he took office. This is compared to the 39% who say they feel more favorable about the president since January 2017.

The Grinnell-Selzer poll shows Trump’s job approval rating has fallen three points to 40% since November 2018.

It also shows that if the 2020 general election were held this week, only 38% of likely voters say they would definitely vote to re-elect President Trump, while 47% of likely voters would definitely vote for someone other than the president.

Fifty percent of the respondents approve of the job Trump is doing with regards to the economy, compared to 39% who disapprove. But those numbers are not translating to sure votes in 2020.

“Historically, presidents who govern during times of economic growth are likely to be re-elected,” said Peter Hanson, associate professor of political science at Grinnell College and Grinnell College national poll director.

“Over half of Americans believe the economy is doing well and that they are moving closer to their personal financial goals, but just 38% think President Trump should be re-elected,” Hanson said. “The warning lights should be blinking red inside the Trump campaign. The president is heading into 2020 weighed down by troubles that are overshadowing the strong economy.”

Overwhelming Majority Against Foreign Election Interference

Eighty-one percent of Americans say it is not okay for political candidates in this country to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election.

This number includes large portions of the president’s base of support in 2016 — Republicans (81%), evangelicals (85%), and rural dwellers (87%). While these numbers are striking in size, reactions to what should happen next largely fall along party lines.

“When it comes to foreign interference, having findings this close to a consensus are rare in polling these days,” Ann Selzer said. “The substance of the question at hand in the impeachment inquiry does not seem in dispute. What’s appropriate in terms of process and consequences are far less clear.”

The poll found 42% of Americans believe that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, with the highest percentages coming from Democrats (83%), those who don’t profess a religious preference (62%), and suburban women (57%).

Meanwhile, 44% say he should not, led by Republicans (87%), white men with no college degree (74%), and rural dwellers (63%).

“While nearly all Republicans believe that asking for foreign help to win an election is the wrong thing to do, in this case, most don’t believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense,” Hanson said.

Overall, the poll found 48% of Americans agree with the U.S. House of Representatives’ decision to open an impeachment inquiry, while 42% disagree with that decision.

Other Interesting Findings

The Grinnell-Selzer poll showed 66% of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s performance as a role model they admire (only 26% approve).

As far as who’s most fired up for the election, the poll found half of Democrats who are likely to vote in the 2020 general election believe personally engaging in campaign and election activities beyond just voting is very important (50%), a feeling that fewer Republicans share (28%), with independents at 36%.

Only 25% of Americans say they’re “very confident” that the votes cast in 2020 will be counted as voters intended.

A majority of Americans have a positive view of immigrants, with 70% saying they believe immigrants mostly enrich American culture, as opposed to just 12% who say immigrants are mostly a threat to American culture.

And that sense of enrichment carries over to the economy: 61% of Americans believe that immigrants have a mostly positive effect on the economy (22% answered mostly negative).

The Grinnell College National Poll was conducted Oct. 17–23, 2019 for Grinnell College by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. It surveyed 1,003 U.S. adults ages 18 or older, with a margin of error of the full sample at +/- 3.1 percentage points.

The respondents included 806 likely voters in the 2020 general election, with a margin of error among that group of +/- 3.5 percentage points. 

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