Working Class Turning Against Trump In Battleground States

Construction workers working with rebar

Working America, the community-affiliate of the AFL-CIO, recently released its newest Front Porch Focus Group report based on interviews with more than 1,150 persuadable and Democratic-leaning infrequent voters in 5 battleground states (AZ, MI, MN, PA, WI). This report follows the seminal Front Porch Focus Group report issued in January 2016, where Working America detected the initial rumblings of support for Donald Trump among white working-class Democrats in Pennsylvania and Ohio, which ultimately became the wave that carried Trump and other Republicans to an unexpected victory.

Here’s what we learned:

Fissures in Trump’s support emerge among the working class.

One in four 2016 Trump voters (23%) do not back him in our online survey. When canvassers dug into the impact of Trump’s first term, most people said that it either made no difference or hurt their family. Even 1 in 5 of those who told us Trump’s first term in office “helped” their family say they plan to vote for the Democratic nominee. While Trump’s support seems to have hardened among his remaining supporters, his base of support appears to have contracted, rather than expanded.

The Democratic base is galvanized against Trump.

In our online survey, 2016 Clinton voters and those base voters who skipped 2016 say overwhelmingly (86%) they are unified behind whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be. Despite pundits’ concerns with the potentially divisive impact of a Democratic nominating contest, these voters are not turned off from participating in the 2020 election.

The Trump tax plan is remarkably unpopular, showing surprising potential for voter persuasion against him.

Our face-to-face conversations revealed that Trump’s tax plan has very little support. In fact, working-class people described, in concrete terms, how they were personally affected or did not feel tangible benefits of the tax code overhaul. Regardless of party affiliation, the bill piqued voters’ sense of fairness because the bill disproportionately benefited the rich. Engaging with voters on the Trump tax bill could prove to be a promising approach for progressives looking to win persuadable voters.

In 2020, persuadable voters in key battleground states — Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — are as receptive to a wide range of progressive policies as the Democratic base. The policy details of the Green New Deal or expanding the Affordable Care Act matter less to voters than the need to take action.

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