Trump's job approval drops to 40% in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Franklin & Marshall poll shows
President Trump's job approval rating has dropped to 40 percent among his bedrock Southwestern Pennsylvanian supporters, while less than a third of voters statewide said he's been doing a good job overall, according to a new poll from Franklin & Marshall College.
Trump had enjoyed strong support in Southwestern Pennsylvania counties, excluding Allegheny, with 60 percent of voters polled in May calling his job performance good or excellent . In the poll released Thursday, that had fallen to 40 percent, even as 61 percent of the respondents in the region still self-identified as “Trump supporters.”
The Franklin & Marshall poll of Pennsylvania voters asked respondents to rate the president's job performance as excellent, good, fair or poor. The sudden drop in excellent or good ratings, particularly among his declared supporters in the counties surrounding Pittsburgh, was likely among voters switching from good to fair or worse, said G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall's Center for Politics and Public Affairs.
“They may have weakened in their support, but they still call themselves ‘Trump supporters,' ” Madonna said. “He won because of what he did in the Southwest and Northeast. ... Trump beat (Hillary Clinton) in the state by 44,000 votes because of what he did west of the Susquehanna.”
Statewide, 29 percent gave Trump positive ratings in the September poll, compared with 37 percent in May and 32 percent in February. In Allegheny County, which is counted separately in the polling, 15 percent rated his performance as good or excellent and 80 percent said it has been fair or poor. Allegheny County was the only Western Pennsylvania county won by Clinton in November.
Trump's job approval remained strong among those identifying as Republican (53 percent) or ideologically conservative (55 percent), with just 11 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents giving him good or excellent marks. Madonna said older, white Pennsylvanians without college degrees remained Trump's strongest supporters.
“I think his job performance has been good, considering the circumstances he's been put into,” said Barbara Boucher, 40, a Trump supporter from New Castle. “He's doing the best he can with what he's got. ... He's been blocked so many times on health care.”
A full 50 percent of respondents statewide gave Trump a “failing” rating on improving the health care system, while 19 percent said he'd done an excellent or very good job on the issue. He got his highest ratings on dealing with terrorism, where 39 percent said he was doing very good or excellent, 21 percent said he was average and 39 percent said he was below average or failing. As for how Trump is handling immigration, 32 percent of respondents gave him an A or B while 46 percent gave him an F.
The poll surveyed 398 registered voters from Sept. 13-18. The margin of error is 6.2 percentage points.
Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, email@example.com or via Twitter @msantoni.