In Turnaround, Voters See Trump, Not Democrats, Siding with Wealthy Over Regular People

June 26, 2017


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Priorities USA
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
Global Strategy Group
DATE: June 26, 2017
RE: In Turnaround, Voters See Trump, Not Democrats, Siding with Wealthy Over Regular People


The latest tracking poll conducted for Priorities USA reveals that President Trump’s standing with voters remains weak—54% of voters disapprove of his handling of his job, matching an all-time high in our six months of surveys. While recent events have affirmed the opposition of voters who did not support Trump in last year’s election, those who voted for Trump are much less likely to find affirmation in the things that Trump has done or said or recently. Furthermore, a sizable number of Trump voters (no fewer than 20%) report that Trump’s truthfulness, his firing of former FBI James Comey, and his dealings with Russia have caused them to view Trump unfavorably of late.

To an extent unseen in past polling, voters see Trump as siding with the wealthy and big corporations over regular people. Democrats, by contrast, are viewed as siding with regular people by 44-34%. This suggests a turnaround may be happening. In a similar survey in January, our post-election survey showed considerably more Obama-Trump voters believed Democrats to favor the wealthy more than Trump did.

Health care appears to be a key factor behind this trend. Our research indicates that Obama-Trump voters are exactly the kind of voters most likely to be persuaded by Democratic messaging about the Republican health care bill. This suggests that health care remains the most effective wedge that could potentially bring these persuasion targets back into the Democratic fold.

On Russia, voters remain concerned about Trump’s response to the ongoing investigation and want to see Congress hold him accountable on the issue. By a 55-32 margin, voters believe Comey’s version of events leading up to his firing rather than Trump’s. 58% of voters say they would have doubts about Trump continuing in office if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller, as has been threatened, and 71% say it is important for Trump to keep his pledge to testify under oath as part of the investigation.

Rising Number of Voters See Trump Siding with Wealthy Over Regular People

By 58%-29%, voters see Trump as siding with the wealthy and big corporations, not regular people. This includes 20% of Trump’s own voters. This represents a change from our April survey; at that time, fewer voters (47%) said Trump sided with the wealthy and corporations over regular people.

Republicans in Congress do not fare any better than Trump on this question, with 58% saying they favor the wealthy and big corporations, compared to just 23% who say they side with regular people.

On the other hand, Democrats are seen as siding with regular people by a 44-34 margin. This is a significant opportunity for Democrats, and is reassuring given that in a survey in January, we found Obama-Trump voters believed Democrats were likelier to side with the wealthy than Trump.

But to truly capitalize on this potential advantage, our survey suggests Democrats need to go beyond merely opposing Trump’s unpopular policies. When asked what is a more important reason to elect more Democrats to Congress next year, a clear plurality (43%) say it is to push for economic policies that will benefit the middle class and working families, versus just 23% who say it is to have an independent check and balance on Trump. This emphasizes the need for Democrats to present an alternative vision, that is clearly seen as improving the lives of working families, in order to parlay Trump’s unpopularity into electoral gains next year.

GOP’s Unpopular Health Care Plan Presents Unique Opportunity for Democrats to Make Inroads with Key Persuasion Targets

Ahead of the Senate health care vote next week, Priorities USA again surveyed voters on the Republican health care repeal measure in a separate persuasion test. (While the Senate Republican version of the bill was not released at the time of the survey, it resembles the House plan closely enough that we believe our findings apply to it as well.)

The proposal remains deeply unpopular. Just 24% of voters support the passage of the Republican bill, compared to 49% who are opposed. Moreover, when informed of general criticisms of the bill, voters were nearly 8% more likely to oppose the bill’s passage. Importantly, we learned that there is a particular cohort of voters who are most likely to be persuaded by Democrats’ messaging on the Republican repeal bill. The voters that move most in response to Democrats’ messaging tend to be white, are slightly more likely to be male, and slightly more likely to be under the age of 65. These health care persuasion targets are more likely to report leaning Republican, and less likely to identify as Democrats or Independents. The targets are also significantly more likely to live in areas with fewer college graduates and in households that are low-, or particularly, middle-income.

These targets are consistent with post-election research on vote switchers—that is, those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, but for Trump in 2016. Attitudinally, these voters share Trump’s isolationist vision and racial anxiety, but remain progressive on key economic issues, especially health care.

This stresses the critical importance for Democrats to continue emphasizing the shortcomings of the health care proposal, as it presents a unique opportunity to win back voters the party lost to Trump and the Republicans in 2016.

Russia Investigation Continues to Fuel Voter Concern About Trump

Our latest survey provides further assurance that Democrats ought not be shy in holding President Trump’s feet to the fire regarding the investigation into the Russian intrusion in the 2016 election. By 49%-42%, voters say they are more concerned that Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to be a check and balance on Trump than that Democrats are going too far in opposing him. This is consistent with our May survey.

On the heels of former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony to Congress, where he testified that he believes he was fired because of the Russia probe, voters report they are more likely to believe Trump over Comey by 55%-32%.

Voters also appear concerned about new steps Trump might take to try to stymie the Russia investigation. 58% of voters say they would have doubts about Trump continuing in office if he fires the special counsel – a step that the White House has so far refused to rule out. Moreover, 71% say it is important for Trump to keep his pledge to testify under oath as part of the investigation. 60% of these voters say it is “very important” he testify.

About This Poll

Garin-Hart-Yang and Global Strategy Group conducted this poll by telephone June 14-18, with a representative national cross section of 1,000 presidential year voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, and care has been taken to ensure that the geographic and demographic divisions of the electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.