Former Obama voters were decisive in Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory. By one estimate, Obama-Trump voters accounted for two-thirds of of the reason Hillary Clinton lost. While Democratic attacks on Pres. Trump aren’t doing well in polls or focus groups, there are also signs his standing is starting to erode among Obama-Trump voters.
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group’s longitudinal study of voters who were also interviewed in 2011-12 most recently reported that very few 2016 voters have regrets — except Obama-Trump voters. Overall, only 6% of voters have regrets, but 15% of Obama-Trump voters do.
The same study shows that Democrats’ advantage on the generic Congressional ballot for 2018 stems largely from uncertainty among Trump voters, particularly Obama-Trump voters.
Fewer than 10% of Clinton voters say that they will vote for a third-party candidate, are uncertain whom they will vote for, or will stay home. Approximately 20% of Trump voters are uncertain. And among Obama-Trump voters, the uncertainty rate is a whopping 45%.
Similarly, Echelon Insights has been running regular polls of “Trump Country” — 550 counties that flipped Obama-Trump or where Trump vastly outperformed 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Since June, Trump has slid from an even split in job approval to 50% disapproval. Also, Democrats have taken a lead (albeit within the margin of error) on the generic Congressional ballot. These trends appear to be driven by a drop in Republican support; the numbers among Democrats and Independents are essentially unchanged.
Of all these results, it may be the uncertainty factor that should most concern Trump (and by extension, the GOP). According to the voter study group, many of these white working-class voters are Republicans whom the Democrats can’t win back. The separate Cooperative Congressional Election Study suggests that 45% of Obama-Trump voters identify as GOP-leaners.
That doesn’t mean that they’re reliable voters. As I noted as far back as 2015, the profile of a Trump voter is disaffected, less likely to vote in GOP primaries and less attached to the GOP. A significant part of Trump’s story is that he got this demo to vote in primaries.
But the disaffected are naturally skeptical. Consider that the general perception has been that Trump has been playing almost exclusively to his core voters instead of trying to broaden his appeal beyond it — and yet it’s the Obama-Trump voters that most regret their choice so far.
This is the danger of basing a political coalition on a foundation of sand. People voting for “change” that politicians never seem to deliver are less likely to stick with one party or reliably show up on election day even when they do lean toward a party.
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