Comparing January of 2017 (the month Donald Trump solemnly swore “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America”) to today, Trump’s net approval number has gone down in all 50 states – and in most cases by quite a bit — according to an agglomeration of state-by-state approval numbers by Morning Consult.
In 43 states (plus the District of Columbia), the drop has been double digits. In 15 states the drop has been 20 percentage points or more. In two states (New York and New Mexico), the decline was 30 or more percentage points.
As regular readers of this space know, I am somewhat obsessed with Trump’s approval ratings. About once a month, I write an approval rating update and it almost always says that Trump’s national approval rating number has remained about the same. And this is true in the latest check-in.
According to Gallup’s fresh weekly number, published Monday, Trump’s disapprovers outnumber his approvers by 56 percent to 40 percent. The HuffPost and FiveThirtyEight, both of which construct an average of many polls, have Trump’s disapprover/approver numbers, as of this morning, at 50.9/43.1 and 51.8/42 respectively. Given margins for error, the difference in all three is insignificant.
All of them are bad numbers for Trump. They are not exactly historically terrible. Several recent presidents have been in that approval/disapproval range halfway through their term. The unusual thing about Trump is that his numbers settled into that range within a couple of weeks of his inauguration. And, although they move from week to week, they haven’t moved much since about April of 2017. Considering how he has conducted himself, I remain somewhat perplexed by the loyalty of his supporters. But if approval poll numbers are a reasonable measure, there’s no denying the existence of that loyal 40 percent.
But in order to change up the basic redundancy of my monthly approval rating reports, I’ll focus today on the Morning Consult analysis, because it consists of state-by-state numbers and, as you know, because of our strange Electoral College system, presidential election outcomes depend on state-by-state outcomes.
Unlike Gallup and many of the other famous poll operations, Morning Consult relies on internet polling, but has been rated among the most accurate national poll operations. In 2016, it predicted Hillary Clinton would win the national popular vote by 3 percent. She won the national popular vote by 2.1 percent. But, as you know, Trump’s close wins in six key swing states turned it into a 306-232 Electoral College majority for him.
(By the way: Trump – whom some believe combines a colossal ego with a fundamental disrespect for factual accuracy — likes to talk about his electoral vote margin as having been a “massive landslide.” In fact, his electoral vote margin was the 46th biggest among the 58 presidential elections in history. Among those who won with a larger portion of electoral vote, just in the 20th and 21st centuries were Franklin D. Roosevelt (four times) Ronald Reagan (twice), Bill Clinton (twice) Barack Obama (twice), Dwight D. Eisenhower (twice) Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, George H.W Bush, Calvin Coolidge, Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley and William Howard Taft. (Plenty more if we go back to George Washington, the only one ever to win 100 percent of the electoral vote.)
Anyway, in fairness to Trump, it’s worth noting that in the comparison published by Morning Consult, it compared Trump’s current approval numbers to those on his Inauguration Day, and those were the highest that his approval ratings have ever been. Call it the rally ‘round the flag effect. His national approval rating numbers fell below water (meaning more disapprovers than approvers) during his first week actually on the job and have stayed underwater ever since.
The main takeaway from the Morning Consult numbers, though, is that Trump’s approval has gone down in every state. He still has a positive approval rating – meaning more approvers than disapprovers — in 24 states and an even approval/disapproval number in one, which is, importantly, Ohio, one of the key swing states in most recent elections.
But his net approval number since inauguration day (meaning his approval minus his disapproval) has gone down in every single state and is now even in Ohio and below water in all the other swing states.
Trump won the election (aside from various reasons that we’ll leave for another day) by narrowly carrying five key swing states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin) and fairly easily winning two other states once considered close (Ohio and Iowa).
I’ll give you numbers below. But candor requires that I clarify one problem with comparing Trump’s current approval numbers in several states with how much support he received on Election Day 2016. Undoubtedly some voters supported Trump on Election Day not because they approved of him a general sense but only because they preferred him over Clinton. I don’t think there’s any way to adjust the data below to reflect that difference.
Still, in case he runs and is nominated for a second term (I admit I have no idea about that), an underwater approval in many key swing states will certainly be extra baggage to carry. So, with that cautionary note, here are the breakdowns of the vote percentages in the key 2016 states, followed by Trump’s Morning Consult approval rating for him in those states in January of 2017, followed by the most recent Morning Consult of his ratings in those states:
|State (Electoral Votes)||Trump- Clinton %||Trump approve/ disapprove Jan ’17||Trump approve/ disapprove Nov ’18||Net change|
|Florida (29)||49.0 - 47.8||56 / 34||47 / 49||-22|
|Pennsylvania (20)||48.2 - 47.5||49 / 39||46 / 51||-15|
|Ohio (18)||51.7 - 43.6||51 / 37||48 / 48||-14|
|Michigan (16)||47.5 - 47.3||48 / 40||43 / 52||-17|
|North Carolina (15)||49.8 - 46.2||53 / 35||49 / 47||-16|
|Wisconsin (10)||47.2 - 46.5||47 / 41||43 / 53||-16|
|Iowa (6)||51.1 - 41.7||49 / 40||44 / 52||-17|