Economic Strengths and Weaknesses
More than half of respondents (51%) approve of the president’s handling of the economy, but looking beyond the macro economy gives a very different view of voters’ personal economic well-being. This is an important distinction that Democrats should continue to watch.
Despite general approval of Trump’s handling of the economy, many across Pennsylvania are not feeling the full benefits of what they would expect in an economic upturn. While about half of respondents are feeling satisfied with their economic situation, they aren’t seeing the full rewards that correspond with the booming economy they are hearing about.
Among those polled, only 23% saw the economy improving for themselves and their family, while 58% viewed the economy getting better for the wealthy. Only one in three voters in PA felt they had benefited from Trump’s economic policies, and only 39% of those polled said they had money left over to save after paying their monthly bills. Just shy of half (49%) of respondents said their income or wages were falling behind the cost of living, and 61% said the cost of health care is getting harder to afford. Additionally, 50% of respondents say that the things in the country over the past few years have changed for the worse, while only 40% said they have changed for the better. This should be extremely worrisome for the Trump campaign that must rely on fulfilling the promise of “Making America Great Again.”
Pennsylvanian women are even more likely to report struggling in Trump’s economy, with 58% saying their income is falling behind the cost of living, compared with 37% of men who say the same. Voters 65 and older (54%) and white women without a college degree (65%) were also more likely to say their income is falling behind the cost of living.
This spells out a clear opportunity for Democrats. While it is important that voters are exposed to the lack of morals, accountability, or stability Donald Trump brings to the oval office, these messages are already breaking through. The national media, and often Trump himself, are doing an effective job of communicating the personality flaws that make him unqualified for his job. Where Democrats should focus their paid communications is on connecting individuals’ personal hardships with the Trump administration’s policies and handling of the economy. We should gear paid and earned media activities towards connecting national Trump policies to the local kitchen table consequences people across the state are experiencing.
Voters’ Top Issues
Much like the 2018 cycle, when asked what issue was most important, health care rose to the top. Cited as the most important issue across all the battleground states, health care was the most frequently selected issue as being important to Pennsylvania voters and is particularly salient with voters 50 and over (54% selected it as a top issue) and Democrats (54% selected it). Notably, the top issue among Democrats was a tie between gun violence and health care, whereas Republicans prioritized health care, border security, immigration, and national security. Gun violence also was more likely to be chosen by voters in Philadelphia (41%) and voters 65 and older (49%). It should be noted that this survey was conducted soon after Dayton and El Paso, possibly raising the saliency of the issue in the short term.