From Forbes, by John Zogby
A recent Harvard -Harris Poll provides some insights as to why President Donald Trump’s support is actually increasing among voters and offers data to explain why he may be re-elected in 2020. I realize that many people don’t want to hear that but hiding from a noxious reality is neither healthy nor helpful.
The poll of 1,347 registered voters was conducted online May 21-22 and it indicates that more Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction (36%) than when President Barack Obama left office nearly a year and a half ago. While 36% is not a number an impressive percentage at all, the “numbers behind the numbers” are pretty suggestive. For example, men (a keystone of Mr. Trump’s base) are more sanguine than women, 44% to 28%. So too are voters over 65 (42%), whites (43%), Republicans (64%), conservatives (63%), Trump’s supporters in 2016 (70%), and voters with college degrees (40%). In other words, at this point in time, the President is holding his base. Significantly, 38% of 18-34 year olds18-34 year oldsolds18-34 year olds feel good about the country’s direction – a possible pick up of support from a group that was not happy with his election.
More significantly from the Harvard-Harris survey is how voters view the economy. More (45%) believe that the US economy is headed in the right direction than those who see it going in the wrong direction (40%). Here is where the cross-tabulations by demographics get really intriguing. In addition to stronger numbers within the President’s base – 53% of those 65 and older, 75% of Trump voters, 70% of conservatives, and 69% of Republicans – the view is rosier than one might believe among young voters 43% of 18-34-year olds and 45% among and 45% among 35-49 year % among 35-49 year olds35-49 year 49 year olds35-49 year oldsolds35-49 year 49 year oldsolds35-49 year oldsoldsolds35-49 year oldsoldsoldsolds35-49 year olds), Hispanics and African Americans (32% each), and independents (43%).
More than two in three (68%) tell the pollsters that the economy is strong, while 32% say it is weak – and this includes 76% of men, 61% of women, 64% or more of all age groups, 57% and 58% of Hispanics and African Americans respectively, and 63% of political moderates. And overall, more voters say they are doing better off in their personal financial situation (31%) or about the same (38%) than the one in four (25%) who say they are doing worse off. The “better off” crowd includes the 30% of Hispanics and 33% of African Americans registered in the poll.
As we know, credit and blame always go to the person in charge. In this case, 54% approve of the way Mr. Trump is handling the economy, while 46% disapprove. A whopping 62% of men approve while only 45% of women – but so too does a majority of all age groups approve, 89% of 2016 Trump supporters, as well as 42% of Hispanics and 32% of African Americans.
An equal percentage credit Mr. Trump with stimulating jobs (54%) – with similar demographic support as his approval rating on handling the economy.
What are we to make of all of this? I am a major fan of consultant of James Carville, but I have never bought into the universality of his dictum – “it’s the economy, stupid”. Voters are too complicated to be one-dimensional. There is plenty of evidence in this Harvard-Harris Poll and others to show that Mr. Trump’s style, behavior, ideology, and management are impediments to attaining more popularity. On the other hand, if there is a sense that things are getting better financially for people, that there is at least a growing feeling of optimism, and that this trend can continue, then it may prove harder to make a case that the person in charge has to be defeated. In addition, if the President can put a string of diplomatic victories together – regardless of whether or not his opponents oppose his initiatives, e.g. with Iran – then the President can bolster his creds with both his base and beyond. It will also make it much harder for Democrats to run on a slogan that argues that they can do anything “better”, as their current consultant-driven message suggests.