If 2020 turns out to be a referendum on Trump’s overall performance, he’s an underdog. Trump, though, would up his odds significantly by winning over half of the 9% of voters who like him on the economy but not overall — and he would be a clear favorite if he won the votes of all those who approved of him on the economy but not overall.
The Trump base (i.e. those who approve of him overall) is overwhelmingly Republican. In total, 88% of voters who approve of Trump say they are either Republican or independents who lean Republican. This is why Trump seems loath to do anything that can alienate Republicans. They are his bedrock. A mere 7% of voters who approve of Trump are Democrats or independents who lean Democrattic. The other 6% are independents who lean toward neither party.
Those who approve of Trump on the economy, but not overall are something else altogether. In an aggregate of our last three CNN polls, 66% say they are Democrats or independents who lean Democratic. Only 23% are Republicans or independents who lean Republican. This makes this group not only more Democratic leaning than the overall Trump approval group, but puts it to the left overall electorate overall.
If Trump wants to reach these voters, he’ll need to move beyond appealing to just Republicans.
The differences between these two groups is not just about party, however. It’s about demographics as well.
But while Trump’s approval rating hasn’t declined, it hasn’t gone up much recently, either. It could be because whites make up a significantly smaller portion (61%) of those who disapprove of Trump overall yet do approve of him on the economy. Black voters, on the other hand, see this share rise to 18% among this group. (This is actually larger than their 11% of all voters in our sample.) Latinos jump a little to 14% of the approve on economy though not overall group of the electorate.
Another group Trump would be wise to reach out to would be voters with a college degree.
Age, though, is perhaps the most fascinating attribute of those who approve of Trump on the economy but not overall. The median age of Trump approvers is 52. This is older than the age of the median voter overall (50). Not surprisingly, it’s also older than the age of the median Democrat or Democratic leaning independent (48). The median age of those who approve of Trump on the economy but not overall is younger than all of these (44). That is, the age gap between Trump approvers and those who approve of Trump on the economy but not overall is double the age gap between Democrats and Trump approvers.
These numbers suggest that either party that gears its message towards older voters could, in fact, be missing a golden opportunity to reach a swing part of the electorate.
More importantly, these numbers suggest that either party that gears its message towards older voters could, in fact, be missing a golden opportunity to reach a swing part of the electorate.
Trump, for now though, seems more than happy to mostly double down on his base first strategy. It could be the downfall of his bid for a second term.