Firehouse/Optimus Swing States September Survey

September 16, 2018

Since the spring of 2017, we have partnered with the data analytics team at 0ptimus periodically to see how voters are feeling about the administration and national issues. With less than 60 days to go until the midterm elections, public opinion at the moment is crucial for electoral and policy outcomes. We interviewed 2,129 likely voters in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to determine where things stand on Trump and climate change at this important moment.

Key Findings:

• As has been the case throughout his presidency, Donald Trump is a highly polarizing figure in these four states. Overall, 43.5% of voters have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 47.2% have an unfavorable opinion. There are few voters in the middle: 76.6% of those surveyed have a strong opinion one way or the other. Throughout our four times fielding this question since April 2017, his net approval has been very stable compared to other presidencies, with his best performance being a net +2% in April 2017 (early presidency), and his lowest point being a net -9% in August 2017 (post-Charlottesville).

o KEY POINT: Trump’s favorability rating has bounced around since his first months on the job (fig 1.) but has been pretty consistent in 2018.

• Most voters now have an ingrained position on whether Trump has been successful or not. 42.3% believe that Trump has been successful, while 44.2% say he has been unsuccessful and only 13.5% believe it is still too soon to tell. Of the Republicans surveyed, 67.6% now say Trump has been successful, a figure that has seen a consistent climb over the past year and a half. However, only 33.3% of Independents believe that he has been successful, compared to 53.5% who say he has not. Of those who think he has not been successful thus far, 80.4% believe it is because of his own actions, which is the most blame he has received to this point.

o KEY POINT: Republicans believe Trump has been successful, but that message hasn’t resonated with others in the electorate. Attempts to blame others for any shortcomings appear to be falling flat.

• Voters remain divided on whom to trust between Mueller and Trump. When asked, 40.8% of those surveyed side with Mueller, while 38.8% side with Trump. These numbers continue a slow trend towards Mueller since we first asked this question: In February 2018, 35.1% believed Mueller was more honest and trustworthy compared to 38.5% who believed the same for Donald Trump. Then, in May 2018, 37.8% said Trump is more honest and trustworthy, while 37.3% said Mueller is. Independents leaned towards Mueller in February, with 39.8% picking him compared to 35.8% picking Trump, and now back Mueller by a 17-point margin instead (47.8% to 31.0%). On the other hand, most Republicans continue to believe Trump more than Mueller (61.8% to 19%) — although more believe Mueller now than did in February (58.5% to 15.2%).

o KEY POINT: The public collectively is very divided on who to trust between Mueller and Trump, but Republicans are becoming isolated.

• On climate change, there are stark partisan differences on its role in a recent increase in the severity of hurricanes. 3.9% of Democrats, 10.3% of Independents, and 17.8% of Republicans believe climate change simply isn’t real. 73.1% of Democrats, 57.8% of Independents, and only 36.5% of Republicans believe it plays a major role or some role in an increase of hurricane severity.

o KEY POINT: Republicans are much more prone than Independents or Democrats to believe climate change is a hoax or does not play much of a role in recent hurricane intensities (Fig. 2).

Methodology: Between 9/12-9/14, we surveyed 2,129 modeled midterm likely voters in Florida (N = 747), Wisconsin (N = 441), Pennsylvania (N = 513) and Ohio (N = 428) via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as registered voters having voted in the 2010 or 2014 midterm elections, plus the 15% additional most likely to turnout based on in-house turnout score modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment but is generally +/- 2.2% for topline results. Sample was weighted by state, age, gender, and party based on 2014 midterm turnout in the latest L2 voter file for each state. Results were then re-balanced based on these cohorts.

Figure 1 – Trump Favorability Over Time

Figure 2 – Hurricanes and Climate Change by Party