A Challenging Road to 2020

September 05, 2018

The inaugural Grinnell College National Poll shows President Donald Trump faces a challenging road to re-election in 2020.

The new poll by the elite liberal arts college in Grinnell, Iowa, interviewed 1,002 individuals including 779 likely voters and was completed during the Labor Day weekend by Des Moines-based Selzer & Co.

It shows that if the 2020 vote were held today, just 36 percent of likely voters in this fall’s election would definitely vote to re-elect President Trump. About one in six (17 percent) would consider someone else, and a full 43 percent say they would definitely vote to elect someone else president.

The Grinnell College National Poll measured support among demographic groups that were key to Trump’s 2016 victory. Among several key constituencies, Trump’s majority support comes from:

  • White men without college degrees (55 percent)
  • Rural voters (52 percent) 
  • Evangelical voters (51 percent)

Among likely suburban voters, another group that Trump carried in 2016, 49 percent say they would definitely vote for someone else and 20 percent would consider voting for someone other than Trump, while just 27 percent say they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump.

“This is a challenging landscape for President Trump,” said Peter Hanson, an associate professor of political science and specialist in American politics at Grinnell College. “He has not succeeded in broadening his base. Two years is a long time in politics, and a lot will depend on his Democratic opponent, but a substantial majority of likely voters are either seeking new leadership or ready to consider it in 2020.”

“His numbers with women are on the gloomy side. Just 29 percent of women overall say they would definitely vote to re-elect the President,” said poll director J. Ann Selzer. “His margin with white women is slightly higher at 36 percent, but it is lower with suburban women at 26 percent.”

Other findings from the Grinnell College National Poll include:

  • Trump approval: Trump’s approval rating is higher among likely voters (43 percent) than it is among the general population (39 percent), although 50 percent of both groups disapprove of the job President Trump is doing. Forty-five percent of likely voters view Trump favorably and 51 percent view him unfavorably.
  • Overall mood: Asked how their feelings have changed about Trump since he took office, 42 percent of likely voters say they are now more favorable, including 26 percent who say a lot more favorable. But a majority of 53 percent say their views are more unfavorable, including 44 percent who say they are a lot more unfavorable.
  • The Future: Likely voters are hopeful about the future of the nation. With 60 percent saying they are more hopeful about the way things will be following this year’s midterm elections, while 30 percent say they are more fearful. Responses were similar about the 2020 election with 59 percent expressing hope and 29 percent fear. The optimism was broad-based, including both Trump and Clinton voters, with men more optimistic than women.
  • Congress: Likely voter attitudes towards Congress are more negative than positive, with the House of Representatives receiving a 53 percent unfavorable rating and 31 percent favorable. A similar ratio holds for the U.S. Senate, at 55 percent unfavorable and 30 percent favorable.
  • Supreme Court: As hearings on a new Supreme Court nominee begin, likely midterm voters voice positive feelings for the court – 59 percent favorable, with 24 percent unfavorable.

For more information on the poll, please visit www.grinnell.edu/poll.

Interview with Peter Hanson, Associate Professor of Political Science

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