Much is being made in the press of President Trump’s supposedly all-time low approval rating of 37 percent, but as a number of polling specialists can tell you, there’s more to specific numbers than meets the eye in many cases.
In the case of Trump’s approval rating, it depends on who — and where — you ask. It’s true that among college students, minority and urban voters, Trump’s approval rating is actually even lower than 37 percent. On average, within these demographic blocs, it’s roughly 29 percent, which rises to 35 percent once you start adding in people in urban suburbs, according to surveys from NBC and The Wall Street Journal.
But tellingly, once you go out to the so-called “second ring” of suburbs — what some people call the “exurbs” — or beyond them, to the third or even fourth rings that are considered rural areas, Trump’s approval ratings rise to between 53 and 59 percent.
These latter figures have confounded journalists and members of the establishment on both sides of the political aisle, but it’s likely that these disparities will continue into the future for some time.
The phenomenon can partially be explained by the fact that these groups of people aren’t just separated geographically; they’re separated by deep chasms in culture, aspirations and traditions that pundits and other observers previously may have written off.
Rural voters in particular are so tired of being ignored by the establishment and the press that they’ve dug in extra hard on Trump — more so than they might have in the past with other candidates. Such constituents are only angered when they hear about a column by New York magazine writer Frank Rich, who commented recently, “While you can’t blame our new president for loving ‘the poorly educated’ who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we’re free to loathe Trump, we’re free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.”
Such pompous remarks are part and parcel of what drove these voters away from the Democratic Party in the first place, which many of them now see identified with coastal elitists of Rich’s ilk.
Pennsylvania voter Dan Brick is one such voter. In the past, this retired grocery store executive from Westmoreland County had voted for Obama, but in 2016, he supported Trump. “I understood who I was voting for,” explained Brick. “I understood that he’s loose with the truth. I wanted someone who was not a politician, and I’m very satisfied with how he’s conducted business in Washington when it comes to getting things done. My wife, who’s much too young to retire, saw her healthcare premiums jump 40 percent under ObamaCare.”
For Brick, the failure of Obamacare is a particularly sore spot. “Everyone forgets, [last] summer, the announcement that the premiums were even going to go up more, and that healthcare providers were pulling out of states at such an alarming rate that the healthcare markets were on the brink of collapsing.”
Brick claims that he’s reluctant to say who he supports politically in public because of derision from local activists and progressives. But his county went for Trump in a big way and was one of the reasons why the new president won Brick’s state in an upset victory.
While it’s true that Mitt Romney won Westmoreland County in 2012, Romney’s margin of votes was only 12,000, whereas Trump’s margin over Clinton in 2016 was greater than 57,000.
As far as the 2018 midterm elections, counties like Westmoreland will be more important for Congressional seat totals than a few select cities such as Baltimore, Boston or Philadelphia. In Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, for instance, where Democratic Representative Tim Ryan holds the seat for his state’s 13th Congressional district, the shift in support from Obama to Trump in 2016 was 21 percentage points. Ryan won re-election to the House of Representatives in 2016, but he recognizes that he’s vulnerable in 2018.
In Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional district, Democratic Representative Matt Cartwright is in a similar predicament. While Cartwright managed to hold onto his seat in 2016, he saw voters who had chosen Obama over Romney by 12 percentage points in 2012 choose Trump over Clinton by 10 points in 2016.
Cartwright’s margin of victory in the last election was small, even though his Republican opponent was unknown, untested and unfunded. But in 2018, Cartwright recognizes that it could be a different story.
The simple fact of the matter is that urban cores where Democrats have solid support aren’t likely to change in the next several years. But the chances of progressives expanding their base, especially among anti-establishment, working-class voters, are so low at this point, that 2018 isn’t looking so good.
Democrats have only themselves to blame, as these latter voters had thrown their weight behind liberal candidates for an entire generation, only to be virtually ignored and not have their concerns listened to. These voters are more than willing to give Trump second — and even third — chances.
While national poll numbers grab plenty of headlines, they don’t necessarily capture the mood of the country at large, and even though Trump has plenty of issues to contend with these days, many voters’ patience with him is far from exhausted.
~ Facts Not Memes