Economic Insights into Michigan Voters
This poll showed that beneath the surface, voters share real concerns about Trump’s handling of the economy and his economic policies.
Fifty-nine percent of voters said they think the economic situation for people who are already wealthy is getting better, while only 24 percent of voters said they think the economic situation for the middle class and average working families is also getting better. Forty-six percent of voters think the latter is actually getting worse.
Voters are beginning to connect this growing wealth gap to Trump. The majority of Michigan voters, 51%, disapprove of how Trump is handling the economy, and only 35% think the availability of good jobs in their community is getting better.
Voters show concerns about their income not keeping up with the cost of living: 49 percent of voters reported that their income is falling behind the cost of living and another 43 percent reported that it is merely staying even with the cost of living. Just 38% of voters reported that they can pay their monthly bills and obligations and have money put aside for savings.
This may explain part of the reason why Trump is underwater in Michigan with women, who report struggling in Trump’s economy to a higher degree. While only 41% of men said their income is falling behind the cost of living, 57% of women answered the same. Non-college white women (61%) and voters in the Detroit area (54%) were also likely to say their income is falling behind the cost of living.
Democrats need to combat the prevalent view that Trump has been good on the economy by expressing to persuadable voters that Trump’s policies are benefitting the ultra-wealthy and harming working families. Only 30% of voters feel they’ve benefited some or a lot from Trump’s economy.
Despite financial concerns, when asked what they’d seen or heard lately about Donald Trump that made them less favorable toward him, voters cited his tweets, racist remarks and general behavior. With such relatively little talk of pocketbook issues in the national conversation compared to that of Trump’s tweets, etc., it’s crucial that we drill down on messaging about these issues with persuadable voters.
Emphasizing economic issues may also impact motivation. As previously mentioned, younger voters reported being less motivated to participate in the 2020 election than voters at large. Voters under 35 were also more likely to prioritize the issue of wages not keeping up with the cost of living, with 40% naming it as a top issue. Among this group, it was the second most cited issue after health care.
Moving Forward: Messaging on These Issues
Health care and pocketbook issues are core to the most effective overall narratives against Trump. These are the issues affecting Michigan families every single day. Though voters had seen the economy as a positive reason to support Donald Trump in the past, they’re sensing negative trends in their own lives as costs of living continue to rise faster than their wages. It’s also clear that they’re increasingly attributing these concerning trends with Trump’s actions as president.
Donald Trump is losing favorability among women, perhaps due in part to his handling of economic issues, which are disproportionately harming women. If Trump can’t improve his standing with voters, he’ll likely be forced to rely on rallying his base, abandoning attempts to reach persuadable voters. Democrats must seize this potential opening with strong communication about pocketbook issues and how Trump’s policies on them are harming working families.
We also need to continue connecting the dots about how Donald Trump’s health care policies are bad for Michigan families’ bottom lines. With health care being a top issue for Michigan voters, illustrating that Trump’s actions contribute to higher premiums and less coverage will be key.
While issues of immigration, racial discrimination, and unpresidential tweeting are clearly critical ones for Democrats to talk about both from an electoral and of course a moral standpoint, with so much talk of them already permeating the discussion, we need to ensure that voters are also hearing the message across paid and earned media that Trump’s economic and health care policies are harming Michigan’s working families and middle class. Our role is connecting voter’s personal financial concerns to Trump’s policies in an aggressive and comprehensive way, which will be key to defeating Trump in this battleground state in 2020.
Garin-Hart-Yang and Global Strategy Group conducted this poll online August 13-25, 2019, with a total sample of 603 voters in Michigan. The distribution of voters across demographic, geographic, and political factors reflect the expected composition of the 2020 electorate for Michigan.