Trump’s Support Runs Deep – Even If His Approval Doesn’t
Policy + Politics

Trump’s Support Runs Deep – Even If His Approval Doesn’t

Patrick Fallon

President Trump’s travel ban restricting entry to America from seven predominantly Muslim countries has been a bust in the courts.

His effort to “repair and replace” Obamacare came to grief on Capitol Hill (although there are new reports that a revised plan has been approved by hardcore House conservatives).

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The president’s executive order cutting off funding to “sanctuary cities” has been rebuffed by the courts.

And on Tuesday arguably the most moderate face of the young administration, first daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, was booed at a conference of female business leaders in Berlin.

However, a new survey of five very different communities across the country by Brown University’s Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy argues that, “If you think President Trump is in deep trouble then you’re living in a blue bubble.”

The communities surveyed – in Rhode Island, North Carolina/South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Iowa – were meant to be representative of various demographic groups and voting patterns: Northeastern working class (won by Obama in 2012, Trump in 2016), Southern rural (Obama 2012, Trump 2016), upper-middle-class (Romney 2012, Clinton 2016), wealthy (Obama 2012, Clinton 2016) and rural Midwest (Romney 2012, Trump 2016).

The Taubman survey said that while Trump has not attracted many new supporters since the election, “he has not bled many either.”

One of the big exceptions to that rule in the early April poll of almost 3,000 voters was in rural Iowa, where Trump got 68 percent of the vote but now has an approval rating of 47 percent.

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What’s behind the 21 point drop in Iowa? “We’re not sure,” Jim Morone, director of the Taubman Center, said in an interview, “but we have a hunch. These are traditional, non-Southern conservative Republicans, and they have not liked what has gone on in the first 100 days … Trump has clearly disappointed them.”

He said the muddled effort to replace Obamacare may have been especially disconcerting to Iowans who voted for the president.

Generally, the findings of the survey were more worrisome for Republican members of Congress than for Trump. In all five of the areas polled, Trump was more popular than generic Republican candidates, and the survey suggested that strong Democratic showings in recent special elections in Kansas and Georgia “were no fluke.”

Of the two major initiatives rolled out by the Trump White House so far, one played badly and the other played well.

Working-class voters overwhelmingly opposed ditching Obamacare, and nowhere did “repeal and replace” get more than 50 percent support.

The travel ban, on the other hand, polled strongly among working-class respondents in Rhode Island, rural Iowa and the rural South. It even won narrow support in upper-middle-class Pennsylvania.

“The ban plays very well everywhere but the bluest settings,” Morone said.

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And while the media may be fixated on investigations into contacts between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, including possible collusion, the Taubman survey found that, “Most people just don’t believe Trump has ties with Russia.”

One clear finding of the survey was a visceral partisanship that does not seem to have abated since the election. “Our deep drill down into different American settings shows a fiercely divided nation,” Morone was quoted as saying in a story on the website of Brown’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, which hosts the Taubman Center.

In fact, in upper-middle-class Chester County, Pennsylvania, an astounding 44 percent of those polled said they had engaged in some form of protest against Trump such as attending rallies, writing letters or making donations to opposition groups.

So what’s the takeaway? The Taubman survey’s conclusion is this: “Trump holds steady – but it’s mainly his brand, not his policies.”