State Watch

EXCLUSIVE: Voters in swing states trust governors over Trump on reopening economy, poll finds


Voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina — four states that could determine who wins the White House in November — say they trust their governors more than President Trump by a substantial margin on making the right decision to reopen the economy, according to a new poll from a Democratic pollster.

The Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey found 61 percent of voters in Michigan who were surveyed trust Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) more than Trump to decide on when to reopen the state, while 34 percent said they trusted Trump more.

In North Carolina, 62 percent said they more trusted Gov. Roy Cooper (D), while in Pennsylvania 62 percent said they more trusted Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and in Wisconsin 56 percent said they more trusted Gov. Tony Evers (D).

On average, the Democratic governors of those four battleground states also have a net approval rating for their job on handling the coronavirus crisis that is 32 points higher than Trump’s.

The four governors average a 58-percent approval rating versus a 31-percent disapproval rating for their handling of the virus for a net of plus 27, while Trump registers a 45-percent approval rating compared to 50 percent disapproval for a net of minus 5.

One of the governors, Whitmer, is a candidate to serve as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate. She has a 57-percent approval rating compared to a 37-percent disapproval rating.

By comparison, Trump’s approval rating in Michigan — a state he carried in 2016 — is 44 percent while his disapproval rating is 51 percent.

The president’s approval ratings in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are 46 percent, 44 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in this poll, while his disapproval numbers stand at 49 percent, 52 percent and 48 percent.

PPP surveyed more than 1,200 voters in each state on behalf of Protect Our Care, a group devoted to defending the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

“What I think we’ve seen is that President Trump can’t bullshit his way through this pandemic. You have to show genuine competency, genuine leadership and genuine empathy,” said Brad Woodhouse, the executive director of Protect Our Care.

“We’ve focused on the battleground presidential states to make both the policy point about the performance in these states but also the political point that the president might think he’s doing the right thing for his base by attacking these governors, by early on denying them supplies, but all he’s doing is complicating an already tough political situation for himself,” he added.

Trump has clashed most sharply with Whitmer, who may wind up on the Democratic presidential ticket later this year.

Trump said last month he had a “big problem” with the “young,” “woman governor” in Michigan whom he said “all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”

He said he told Vice President Pence not to call her in his dealings as head of the White House coronavirus task force.

Trump has also clashed with governors generally on who should have the ultimate authority during the crisis, proclaiming last week: “When somebody’s president of the United States, the authority is total.”

Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by winning Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. His victories in the Rust Belt states shocked Democrats and political handicappers alike.

Pollsters also found the vast majority of voters in the four battleground states, including Trump supporters, said that they believe social distancing measures should remain in place.

On average, only 19 percent of respondents in those states think social distancing measures should be relaxed.

In Michigan, 18 percent expressed support for loosening restrictions while in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the percentage of respondents in favor of easing social distancing stood at 16 percent, 17 percent and 23 percent, respectively.

More than 50 percent of respondents — ranging from 52 percent in North Carolina to 57 percent in Michigan — said social distancing guidelines now in place are “the right thing.”

There’s little support for easing social distancing rules even among Trump supporters, according to the survey.

In Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, only an average of 34 percent of Trump voters polled said distancing measures should be relaxed — with support for loosening requirements standing at 36 percent, 28 percent, 32 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

PPP surveyed 1,277 Michigan voters, 1,275 North Carolina voters, and 1,251 Pennsylvania voters on April 20 and April 21. It surveyed 1,415 Wisconsin voters on April 20.  The margins of error were  2.7 percentage points in Michigan, 2.7 points in North Carolina, 2.8 points in Pennsylvania and 2.6 points in Wisconsin. The survey pool included a mix of male and female voters who supported Trump, Clinton, a third-party candidate or did not vote in 2016.

Gallup also released a survey on Thursday that shows more than two-thirds of Americans have confidence in their state’s governor when it comes to economic decisions, higher than any other official in the U.S.

–Updated at 12:29 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump governors Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Mike Pence poll
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