New research among presidential year voters

March 10, 2017


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Priorities USA
DATE: March 10, 2017
RE: New research among presidential year voters

Priorities USA has commissioned Global Strategy Group and Garin Hart Yang to conduct regular tracking polling throughout this year to monitor the Trump presidency and give the progressive community a window into how the electorate is reacting to political events as they unfold. Our polling will be among presidential year voters – those who voted in either 2012 or 2016 – to assess what is happening with those who participate in presidential elections. This is the first in that series.

Our research indicates that despite net negative favorability and job approval ratings, President Trump’s support is holding among his base and voters continue to view him favorably on economic issues.  But Trump has a clear vulnerability on the economy, because voters question whether he is truly on their side.  Moving forward, progressives should drive home the message that Trump is looking out for the wealthy and selling out regular people in order to win on the economy. In particular, Trump’s support for tax cuts for the wealthy and the specifics of the Republican health care plan provide a key opportunity to push that message.

Key findings from our initial survey are as follows:

President Trump’s ratings are net negative, but his base is keeping him afloat.

  • Trump’s ratings remain historically poor for a Presidential honeymoon period, with net negative favorability and job approval ratings. Among a presidential year voter population that is slightly more politically favorable to Republicans than many public polls of all adults, Trump’s personal favorability (42% favorable/47% unfavorable) and job approval (45% approve/46% disapprove) are net negative.
  • But Trump is buoyed by his Republican base who remain overwhelmingly behind him. Few Republicans express discontent with the President – Trump’s favorability with Republicans (82% favorable/7% unfavorable) and conservative Republicans (88% favorable/5% unfavorable) is strong.
  • Key swing constituencies like independents and moderate voters are skeptical of the President. Trump’s favorability with Independents (34% favorable/45% unfavorable) and moderates (31% favorable/53% unfavorable) is mixed, though not overwhelmingly negative – and Democrats must continue to drive negative ratings with these constituencies.
  • The key fault lines of the presidential election remain in play. White non-college voters remain supportive of Trump (58% favorable/32% unfavorable), while college-educated white voters give him poor ratings (35% favorable/57% unfavorable).

Voters are hearing good news about Trump on the economy, while they perceive real weaknesses across other areas, especially Russia, leadership, and integrity.

  • Voters are giving Trump credit on the economy – the one area where they have recently heard more positive news than negative news. Voters are hearing favorable things about Trump’s economic policies (42% favorable/32% unfavorable; +10 net positive), the only issue or trait where Trump is currently receiving positive ratings. Recent public polls also confirm this, showing Trump getting better job ratings on the economy than other issues.
  • Trump’s personal traits remain a key weakness, including his temperament and personal character. Voters are hearing negative things about Trump’s “temperament and leadership style” (-14 net negative) and “personal character and integrity” (-13 net negative). On both these items, his ratings are particularly weak with Independents (-18 on temperament and -23 on character).
  • Russia is an overwhelming negative for Trump with a majority of voters hearing unfavorable things. Just one in five voters (21%) report hearing favorable things about Trump’s dealings with Russia, while 51% report hearing unfavorable things. As a result, in both our poll and in the recent Quinnipiac poll, 60%+ voters support an Independent commission into the links between the Trump administration and the Russian government.

Trump is vulnerable on the economy because voters believe he looks out for the interests of the wealthy and corporations, and progressives must leverage that to show how his economic policies are failing regular people.

  • Voters hold contradictory views on the economy – they see Trump doing better there than on other issues, but they also believe he is looking out for the wealthy and big corporations.  Despite giving Trump more positive marks on the economy than other issues, voters, by a large margin, believe that Trump is “looking out for the wealthy and big corporations” (50%) over “looking out for the interests of regular people” (25%). This criticism holds water even among white non-college voters, who remain some of Trump’s strongest supporters (35% looks out for the wealthy/30% looks out for regular people).
  • Progressives must prioritize connecting the dots between Trump’s economic policies and the impact they have on regular people. The top-testing criticism of Trump in our poll is that he “supports giving a big tax cut to millionaires and big corporations, and will shift more of the tax burden to the middle class” – raising major doubts among a majority (53%) of voters and outperforming criticisms on other issues.
  • Progressives should lean into this economic narrative moving forward, which represents a real opportunity to illustrate how President Trump continues to break his campaign promises to put regular people first. The looming fight on taxes represents one opportunity to push this narrative as does the current battle over the ACA and the Republican health care bill.  Progressives should continue to make economic arguments on health care – focusing on how the GOP bill will cost seniors more but include new tax breaks for millionaires and CEOs.


Global Strategy Group and Garin Hart Yang conducted a national survey among 769 presidential year voters for Priorities USA from March 3-7, 2017. The results have a margin of error of +/-3.5%, and care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.