A year into his presidency, Donald Trump has an approval rating just below 40 percent among Michigan voters, according to a new poll commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV Local 4.
State voters in 2016 chose a Republican candidate for the first time in 28 years by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s conduct in office has resulted in the approval of 39.5 percent of 600 likely state voters, while 54 percent disapproved, according to a Glengariff Group Inc. poll provided to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV.
Women and independent voters are driving much of the dissatisfaction, the poll shows.
About 47 percent of voters said they strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance, a dissatisfaction driven largely by women, the poll showed. Sixty-six percent of women in Metro Detroit said they strongly disagreed with the president’s performance, and 39 percent of those polled gave Trump an “F.”
“His approval ratings are terrible, it’s that simple,” said Rich Czuba, who conducted the poll. “We are the bellwether state at this point. Michigan is going to reflect what is occurring nationally.”
A majority of 54 percent of those polled said they don’t believe Trump is qualified to be president. It is a little better than the 63 percent of likely Michigan voters who said he was unqualified to be president in a late September 2016 Glengariff poll for The News and WDIV.
The Jan. 16-19 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The state will likely foreshadow the national tone on perceptions about Trump and how it may affect Republican candidates down the ballot, Czuba said. He pointed to the estimated 4,000 people who rallied against Trump at the Michigan Capitol on Sunday during the first anniversary of the women’s march.
“Based on what I’m seeing in these numbers, it would be very foolish to characterize these women’s marches as just an extension of the Democratic Party or some leftist marches,” Czuba said. “This is a movement ... is a combination of independent and Democratic women that have linked together.”
Trump does well on his handling of the economy, where 49 percent approve while 40 percent disapprove, according to the poll.
But the president scored poorly on health care and foreign affairs. About 63 percent of those polled said they disapprove of Trump’s foreign affairs performance, and 71 percent said they disagreed with his recent reported comments about Haiti and African countries being “----hole countries.”
In fact, 60 percent of those surveyed said the comments are “racist,” while 32 percent disagreed.
Dissatisfaction with Trump is driving up anticipated voter participation in the 2018 elections, said Matt Grossman, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University.
“It’s an overall increase in what we call negative partisanship — they hate the opposition more … so I’d say Trump is certainly the key factor in motivating Democratic constituencies.”
It may have repercussions in Michigan’s gubernatorial, congressional and state House races, said Josh Pugh, a Democratic political strategist for Grassroots Midwest in Lansing.
Democratic candidates also were considered to be more popular in 2012, but Democrats then failed to flip the state House back to Democratic control, Pugh said.
“So in order to get to 56 seats (a majority in the House), you don’t just have to win the four districts where Hillary Clinton won that are held by Republicans,” he said. “You gotta play in some really unfriendly territory.”
But Pugh said Trump’s unpopularity could still give Democrats an edge they lacked before. It also puts Republican gubernatorial candidates such as Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Attorney General Bill Schuette in a difficult position.
Republican primary voters mostly support Trump, Pugh said. Trump has endorsed Schuette in the governor’s race.
But the broader electorate may not look favorably on Trump in November despite his narrow victory in 2016, which could mean trouble for Republican candidates who keep allying themselves with the president, Pugh said.
“Absolutely, that’s gonna be a very difficult tightrope to walk for Republican candidates,” he said