Some Obama-Trump voters abandon president

A key pillar of President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE’s winning 2016 coalition, voters in the Midwest who backed President Obama but then reversed course to support the GOP presidential nominee, is beginning to lose faith in his job performance.

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Two-thirds of Obama-Trump voters say they see Trump favorably heading into his reelection campaign — but that number has fallen by 19 percentage points since 2016, according to a new survey by the Voter Study Group.

Obama-Trump voters tend to be disproportionately located in the Midwest, and they likely helped Trump eke out victories in the key states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump was the first GOP nominee to win those states since the 1980s along with Pennsylvania, a state outside the Midwest but with sone similar demographics.

Trump won those three states by just a handful of votes — 10,704 in Michigan, 22,748 in Wisconsin, and 44,292 in Pennsylvania. The slightest erosion in support could cost him those states in 2020.

Robert Griffin, the Voter Study Group’s research director, said the Obama-Trump voters are most likely to be members of the white working class who never attained a college degree.

“Even these shifts that look like they’re pretty small, well, the election margins were pretty small,” Griffin said.

Political scientist John Sides has found that about 9 percent of Obama voters chose Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE in 2016, or about 5 percent of the overall electorate.

Trump’s campaign said they believe the president’s record will win him a second term with those voters willing to choose presidential candidates from either party.

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“We intend to win the states President Trump won in 2016 and feel we can expand the map in 2020 to states where he came close the first time,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in an email. “Across the Midwest, President Trump has an excellent record to tout to blue collar union members.”

But recent surveys in the handful of battleground states where Obama-Trump voters tend to live hint at more trouble for the incumbent as he ramps up his reelection bid.

An EPIC-MRA survey of Michigan voters in March showed just 31 percent said they would vote to reelect him, while 49 percent said they will definitely vote to replace him.

A Marquette Law School poll conducted in April showed Trump’s job approval rating at 46 percent, while 52 percent disapproved. Only 41 percent of Pennsylvania voters told Emerson pollsters they approved of Trump’s job performance, while 51 percent disapproved.

Even in states Trump won by wider margins, his numbers have sagged. Just 39 percent of Ohio voters said they approved of his job performance in a Baldwin Wallace University survey from March. And 42 percent of Iowa voters approved of the way Trump was handling his job, according to another Emerson poll.

Some Republicans said they were not concerned about Trump’s anemic numbers, in part because a presidential contest begins as a referendum on the incumbent as the other party decides on its nominee and then becomes a choice between two distinct candidates.

“Make the election a choice, and make the choice as stark as possible. The good news for the president is the Democrats are doing their best to make that choice as stark as possible,” said Corry Bliss, who ran the Congressional Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC, in 2018. “Now, there is no real choice.”

More than 200 counties across the country voted for Trump in 2016 after backing Obama in 2012. Those so-called pivot counties disproportionately sit in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Trump’s poll numbers have showed remarkable stability in recent months, despite the tumultuous tug-and-pull of a booming economy and special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction MORE’s investigation into his campaign and administration. About 85 percent of Americans have held a consistent view of Trump in the two years since he won election, never budging from their favorable or unfavorable opinions.

Today, 56 percent of Americans view Trump unfavorably, according to the Voter Study Group survey, and 40 percent view him favorably. That number is largely unchanged from 2016, when 52 percent saw him unfavorably and 44 percent said they viewed him favorably.

That unprecedented stability is both a benefit and detriment to Trump’s chances in 2020. He begins his reelection bid with a fan base as committed as ever — and an opposition as united as ever. The floor of his support and the ceiling of his support are both set in increasingly hardening stone.

“If you added up every single person who ever had a nice word to say about Trump, you’re still only talking about half the country,” Griffin said. “That’s not great territory to be in as you start a presidential campaign.”

The Views of the Electorate Research Survey was conducted among 6,779 voters who are part of a panel, meaning they are surveyed several times over the years. The poll carries a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points.