Trump Job Approval in Trump Country Falls Post-Charlottesville Press Conference

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. Recognizing the importance of these counties to Trump’s fortunes in next year’s midterm elections and beyond, major media outlets have begun studying these same counties as critical bellwethers to understand whether President Trump is holding onto the voters who allowed him to realign the electoral map.

Currently a majority (55%) of Trump Country voters believe the United States is off on the wrong track, while only 36% believe the country is heading in the right direction — continuing a slow decline in optimism we’ve tracked throughout the summer.

President Trump’s job approval has ticked down one point since June, from 44% to 43% while disapproval with his performance remained at 50%, a notable decline from May’s 45–46% approval to disapproval split.

Our August survey was in the field from Monday, August 14th through Wednesday the 16th, and we were curious whether the President’s Charlottesville press conference at Trump Tower on the 15th impacted voters’ approval of his job performance. We found that respondents surveyed on nights after the press conference were indeed more likely to express disapproval than voters surveyed on Monday. Trump’s job approval rating went from an even 46–46 split on Monday, to a net negative 10 percent split amongst voters interviewed Tuesday and Wednesday.

In tandem with sagging optimism and lower Presidential approval ratings, Democrats have taken the lead from Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot in Trump Country, leading 42–40. Back in June, Republicans were slightly ahead, 41–40.

What caused the shift? It appears some Republican voters are souring on their party. While fully 85% of Republicans said they would support the Republican candidate for Congress, this is a decline from 89% in June. In comparison, support for Republicans from Independents has held relatively steady — 34% indicated their support in August compared to 33% in June. Both months 5% of Democrats indicated they would support Republican candidates next Fall. Time will tell if this trend continues, but for now this erosion of support from their base looks to be a worrying sign for Donald Trump and Republicans heading into next year’s midterm elections.

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