The Trump Issues

President Donald Trump |

By Jim Ellis

July 12, 2019 — International pollster YouGov, surveying for The Economist magazine (July 7-9; 1,500 US adults from the YouGov opt-in Internet panel, 1,140 US registered voters, 592 likely Democratic primary voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden maintaining a lead over the nomination field, but his margin is dissipating.

In this poll, Biden has a 22-17-14-11-5 percent advantage over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, respectively, but the survey contains much more information.

This YouGov poll presents an exhaustive study of the electorate and some of the more interesting findings containing the respondents’ views regarding President Trump’s performance in certain key issue areas. In fact, the YouGov pollsters queried the respondents on 17 different subjects that yielded various conclusions.

In almost every poll, President Trump records upside-down overall job approval ratings. In this particular survey, his approval index is 43:53 percent (-10) positive to negative within the registered voter sample.

Usually, however, his performance on individual issues, particularly the economy, is better than his overall rating, and particularly so in battleground states, but this survey delves deeper. It identifies some areas of strength, other topics of weakness that probably are lost to the president for the duration of the campaign, and a final segment where he is trailing now but trending towards reversing the sentiment before Election Day 2020, and possibly to a significant degree.

Though he is 10 points upside-down overall according to this survey, which appears in line with most other available research information though slightly more negative here, Trump is actually aligned with the other national political leaders, and has a higher positive rating than all.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) scores 40:50 percent (-10) positive to negative, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) registers the poorest ratio at 29:52 percent (-23), his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) posts 35:46 percent (-11) among registered voters, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) records a 26:37 percent (-11) negative approval index.

From the macro universe of 1,493 adult respondents who answered the questions, 1,103 from this group are identified as registered voters. It is in this subset that we examine as our issue universe for purposes of studying the upcoming the presidential campaign. Another 598 individuals are segmented even further, into a group of self-identified Independents. With the electorate already polarized and likely to remain so throughout the entire campaign, the Independent category, particularly in the battleground states, becomes a segmented subset of crucial importance.

Within the registered voter subset, the president’s strongest issue areas were his performance regarding the economy (51:41 percent approve to disapprove), along with Veterans’ issues (47:40 percent), and protecting the country from terrorism (46:44 percent).

Conversely, in the areas where his approval deficit is 10 points or worse, his performance on environmental issues and controlling the federal deficit yield the weakest numbers. In both instances, the approval ratio is a negative 36:54 percent (-18).

The other issue areas that will be difficult for the president to completely rebound are healthcare (39:53 percent), gay rights (34:48 percent), education (37:49 percent), women’s rights (39:49 percent), and civil rights (40:50 percent).

The issues where Trump could potentially recover are foreign policy (43:50 percent), immigration (44:51 percent), Medicare (39:46 percent), Social Security (38:45 percent), gun control (41:49 percent), taxes (42:50 percent), and abortion (38:47 percent).

The results among the Independents differ somewhat. While their aggregate issue performance disapproval numbers were considerably less than the registered voter universe, the approval responses were also commensurately lower.

As with the registered voters, the three issue areas where the president scored a positive approval rating from Independents were the economy (41:35 percent), terrorism prevention (37:34 percent), and Veterans’ issues (35:34 percent).

The areas where the president’s negative rating was at least 10 points over his positive rating were greater in number, but the spread between the two axis points was not as stark as among the registered voters, with the exception of the federal deficit issue (25:46 percent) and the environment (27:46 percent).

The other problem areas for the president among Independents are healthcare (29:44 percent), gay rights (24:39 percent), Medicare (27:39 percent), education (28:40 percent), women’s rights (29:39 percent), Social Security (27:37 percent), foreign policy (33:43 percent), and abortion (28:38 percent).

The areas where he could improve, and where we would expect to see the Trump campaign exert emphasis particularly when targeting Independents in the battleground states, are gun control (31:38 percent), taxes (32:40 percent), civil rights (31:40 percent), and immigration (36:45 percent).

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