EXCLUSIVE: Swing State Voter Study
April 25, 2017
As President Trump approaches 100 days in office, we took a closer look at voter sentiment in 4 swing states that Obama carried in 2012 and Trump carried in 2016: Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding Trump’s false claims and stalled legislative agenda. We wanted to use data to dig deeper and learn what is really driving voters’ opinions.
We partnered with the super sharp data analytics team at 0ptimus to do a nice big segment read of likely midterm voters. We interviewed 3,491 likely midterm voters in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with a special interest in Trump’s honesty, the potential government shutdown, and how voters will respond in 2018 if Trump fails to deliver on his big promises.
- The vast majority (80%) believes Trump lies or exaggerates the truth — but even more voters (84%) think the same of Republican members of Congress. Notably, more Republicans and independent voters believe Trump never lies (26%) than believe Congressional Republicans never lie (21.5%).
- KEY POINT: Yes, voters think Trump is dishonest, but he’s not worse than other politicians. (Fig. 1)
- A majority of independents believe that Trump either never lies (17.3%) or that he only “exaggerates with good intent.” (34.1%) Among Republicans those numbers are even higher: 31.3% say he never lies and 51.6% believe he exaggerates only with good intent.
- KEY POINT: Voters know he’s often not telling the truth but a majority don’t care. (Fig. 1)
- Trump made big promises on taxes, infrastructure, health care and border security. But fewer than 100 days into his presidency, most Republican and independent voters say they won’t punish Republicans in 2018 for failing to deliver. For example, fewer than 1 in 10 Republican and independent voter said they would not vote Republican in 2018 if a border wall is not being built by then; and barely 15% say they wouldn’t vote for the GOP without tax reform.
- KEY POINT: If Republican lawmakers face difficulties in midterm elections, it likely won’t be for failing to pass big legislation. (Fig. 2)
- Facing a potential government shutdown this week, don’t expect either party to feel pressure from its base to keep the government open. In the event of a shutdown, only 16% of Democrats will blame Democrats, while only 19% of Republicans and independents would blame Trump. Overall, most voters (56%) would blame Donald Trump (31%) or Congressional Republicans (25%) rather than Congressional Democrats (44%).
- KEY POINT: Nobody feels pressure from their base to compromise, increasing likelihood of shutdown.
Trump’s Perceived Honesty by Party
GOP Reaction to Potential Political Inaction, Broken Out by Issue
Three months in office, 44% of those asked across the four states say they have a favorable view of Trump, and 42% of those asked say they have an unfavorable view. This breaks out as follows: Florida (45/41), Wisconsin (40/47), Ohio (45/40), and Pennsylvania (45/45). 67% of Republicans have a favorable view compared to 20% who have an unfavorable view, a near-perfect inverse of Democrats (21/66).
20% of those asked believe Trump never lies, while 37% believe he exaggerates the truth with good intent and 43% believe he intentionally lies. This is slightly better than the margins for Republican Members of Congress- 16% believe they never lie, 38% believe they exaggerate the truth, and 45% believe they intentionally lie.
Voters are divided on how Trump has done thus far. 34% believe he has been successful, 36% believe he has been unsuccessful, and 30% believe it is too soon to tell. Slightly more than half of Republicans (52%) say Trump has been successful, while 35% believe it is too soon to tell. Floridians are most bullish on Trump (37% successful, 35% unsuccessful), while Badgers are less convinced (27% successful, 40% unsuccessful).
Of those who do not believe Trump has been successful yet, 61% believe he has himself to blame. This majority sentiment extends across all major segments except Republicans, who narrowly blame Democrats (42%) more than Trump (41%). Very few individuals across segments blame Republicans writ large (13%).
Only 39% of voters are proud of the way Donald Trump has handled his job, an amazingly low number this early into a presidency. This includes only 35% of females who say that he has made them proud, compared to a slight plurality of men who say he has (44% proud, 42% not proud).
In looking ahead at the 2018 midterms, voters are lukewarm about how to feel regarding Trump’s campaign promises. The border wall is his least popular promise, with only 40% of respondents indicating that they would be disappointed if it is not being built by 2018. Of those who would be disappointed, 3/4ths say they would still vote Republican if the promise is not kept. The most popular and “deal-breaking” of the four promises tested was an infrastructure plan, with 57% of voters indicating disappointment if it does not pass by 2018, and only 53% of that subset indicating they would vote Republican anyways.
Finally, in looking ahead this week at a potential government shutdown, most voters (56%) would blame Donald Trump (31%) or Congressional Republicans (25%) rather than Congressional Democrats (44%) if Congress is unable to fund the government. Among independents, 60% would blame Trump (32%) or Congressional Republicans (28%).
Methodology: Between 4/21-4/23, we surveyed 3,491 modeled likely midterm voters in Florida (N = 1,305), Wisconsin (N = 713), Pennsylvania (N = 690), and Ohio (N = 783) via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as anyone 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 +/- 2.0% 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.