Longitudinal survey finds the highest regret among Obama-to-Trump voters, strong opposition to two top Trump priorities, and sharp partisan shifts in views about the nation’s direction
Washington, D.C. – September 6, 2017 – The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a research collaboration comprised of leading analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum, has released initial findings from its July survey, which tested how Americans are reacting to President Donald Trump’s first six months in office. Notably, most voters do not regret the decision they made in the 2016 election. However, Obama-to-Trump voters are the most likely to regret the choice they made last November and are more likely than other Trump voters to disapprove of the President’s performance.
The data also illuminate how voting Americans are strongly opposed to two hallmarks of President Trump’s campaign. Both repealing the Affordable Care Act and building a wall along the border of Mexico have greater opposition than support among the 5,000 voters polled, while other Trump campaign promises included in the poll continue to enjoy support.
These and other findings are described in a new memo, “The First Six Months: How Americans are Reacting to the Trump Administration,” authored by Robert Griffin, a member of the Voter Study Group and Director of Quantitative Analysis at the Center for American Progress.
“Voters’ opinions have been incredibly stable considering the tumultuous nature of this Administration’s early months,” said Griffin. “Trump has mostly held onto the support of those who voted for him in November. The one exception has been the much-discussed Obama-to-Trump voters – more than one in five now disapprove of the President.”
“Our results show how public opinion remains supportive of some of the President’s key campaign promises,” said Karlyn Bowman, a Voter Study Group editor and Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “But as the immigration debate and budget negotiations heat up, building a wall remains especially unpopular, and as NAFTA negotiations get underway, the data show attitudes toward trade becoming more positive.”
Further findings relevant to the President’s agenda and detailed in “The First Six Months” include:
- Trump voters still support the President, but support is weaker among Obama-Trump voters: Eighty-eight percent of Trump voters still approve of the President while just nine percent disapprove. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Clinton voters (96 percent) disapprove of Trump. Among Obama-Trump voters, 70 percent approve, but 22 percent disapprove – a rate twice as high as that of all Trump voters.
- Few voters regret the choices they made in 2016, but Obama-Trump voters are unusually likely to regret their vote: Sixteen percent of Obama-Trump voters regret voting for Trump—the highest of any group examined.
- Democrats have an early edge in the 2018 midterms because of uncertainty and defection among Trump voters: In line with other July polls, the Democrat Party has a seven-point lead over Republicans in the “generic ballot” question – 43 percent to 36 percent. This lead is largely created by the nearly unanimous support of Clinton voters for Democrats combined with about 20 percent of Trump voters who say they will vote for a third-party candidate, are uncertain of their vote, or will not vote.
- Strong opposition outweighs strong support on two of the President’s highest campaign priorities: Of the campaign promises included in the survey, there are two where strong opposition outweighs strong support, and they happen to be two of the President’s top priorities: ACA repeal and building the border wall. On every other campaign promise polled, strong support is higher than the opposition.
- Despite a tumultuous six months, many other attitudes remain stable—with two exceptions: Of the topics included in the poll, there are only two issues where opinion appears to have changed significantly from December 2016 to July 2017: First, there was a 13-point increase in the percentage of respondents who favored increasing trade with other nations. Second, support for a temporary Muslim immigration ban increased from 44 percent to 47 percent.
- Americans’ views about the direction of the country and its prospects have shifted sharply along partisan lines: Clinton voters generally felt worse about their quality of life as well as the nation’s economic and political standing. At the same time, Trump voters have become much more optimistic across six measures.
- Americans generally have a negative opinion of Vladimir Putin, but dislike the person they didn’t vote for even more: Americans now dislike the opposing 2016 presidential candidate more than an authoritarian leader widely-believed to have meddled in the election. Both Clinton and Trump voters dislike the candidate they didn’t vote for more than they do Putin.
More data on these findings, along with accompanying infographics, are available here.
In the coming weeks and months, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group will be releasing a number of in-depth reports exploring trends across the longitudinal surveys, which polled a panel of Americans in 2011, 2012, 2016, and now 2017. Coming analysis will cover evolving public opinion on health care, trade, immigration, democracy, and millennials, among other topics.
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a politically-diverse group of conservative, progressive, and independent experts who came together in 2016 to study the American electorate. The research of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is designed to help policy makers and thought leaders listen more closely, and respond more powerfully, to the views of American voters.
The 2016 and 2017 VOTER Surveys and reports were made possible by a grant from Democracy Fund to the Ethics and Public Policy Center to conduct new research about changing trends among the American electorate.
VOTER Survey Methodology Summary
In partnership with the survey firm YouGov, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group commissioned the 2016 VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) of 8,000 adults who had participated in similar surveys in 2011 and 2012. The Voter Study Group then interviewed 5,000 of the same respondents between July 13-24, 2017 to explore how voters’ opinions may have changed—or how they did not change at all. A complete 2017 survey methodology is available here.
About the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC)
Founded in 1976 by Dr. Ernest W. Lefever, the Ethics and Public Policy Center is Washington, D.C.’s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy. From the Cold War to the war on terrorism, from disputes over the role of religion in public life to battles over the nature of the family, EPPC and its scholars have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles—respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government.
About the Democracy Fund
The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Since 2011, Democracy Fund has invested more than $60 million in support of a healthy democracy, including modern elections, effective governance, and a vibrant public square.