Trump Country Voters Narrowly Favor Trump’s “Solar Wall” and Are Lukewarm About the Congressional Budget Office
Since March, we’ve been polling what we call Trump Country — the 550 counties that flipped from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, or where Trump greatly improved on Mitt Romney’s performance in 2012. Following our lead, major media outlets have begun studying these same counties as critical bellwethers to understand whether President Trump is holding onto to the voters who allowed him to realign the electoral map.
Amongst other questions available to Trump Country subscribers, we were interested in getting Trump Country’s thoughts on two questions — President Trump’s idea of a “solar wall” along the Mexican border, and the largely Beltway-driven debate over the Congressional Budget Office.
First, we asked whether the idea of lining a proposed border wall with solar panels would make the wall more enticing to Trump Country voters.
Trump Country voters narrowly oppose the construction of a border wall by 50–44 percent, but this shifts to 46–41 percent support when the idea of lining the wall with solar panels. The intensity of support for the solar wall decreases, as does opposition. So why the shift?
Simply put: partisanship. Adding solar panels to the wall drops the intensity of support among Republicans and Trump voters, while it decreases the intensity of opposition among Democrats and Clinton voters.
Republicans and Trump voters become significantly less excited about building a wall along the southern border when it’s covered in solar panels. Democrats and Clinton voters? Well, if there’s going to be a wall, it’s going to encounter slightly less intense opposition from the left in Trump Country if it’s harvesting energy. A solar wall is less polarizing than a regular wall — but also less galvanizing to the Republican base in Trump Country.
People who obsess over politics are often concerned with the impact of a Congressional Budget Office score on legislation, and the proposed Senate healthcare bill is no exception. Rather than asking if Trump Country voters approve or disapprove of the bill, though, we decided to ask them how much confidence they have in the CBO’s bill scoring abilities. If Trump Country voters don’t believe the Congressional Budget Office has a fair scoring system, then attacks on the health care bill’s CBO score results are unlikely to have much impact. The result? Only 11% of Trump Country voters have a great deal of confidence in the Congressional Budget Office, and 37% say they have a fair amount of confidence. That leaves a majority of Trump Country voters who either have very little confidence (38%) or no confidence (14%) that the CBO does a fair and accurate assessment of the bills it scores.
Even among Democrats, confidence in the Congressional Budget Office is lukewarm. While 17% say they have a great deal of confidence in CBO assessments (compared with 9% of Republicans), a nearly equal 16% have no confidence — five points higher than their GOP counterparts. Actually, while a plurality of Republicans say they have a fair amount of confidence in the CBO’s assessments (44%), this falls to just under a third (32%) of Democrats. Democratic Members of Congress preparing for midterms in Trump Country may not have the cover they were looking for from the CBO to make claims about enrollment rates that resonate with their constituents.
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