Horowitz: Voter Intensity Gap Favors Dems This Time

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Rob Horowitz, GoLocalProv MINDSETTERâ„¢

Rob Horowitz
President Trump’s dismal approval ratings-the worst of any modern president at this time in their presidency-are certainly a good sign for Democrats as people begin to look towards the November mid-term elections.  But even better for Democrats and more worrying for Republicans is the pronounced and now established intensity gap. For example, in the recent Suffolk/USA Today poll, 39% strongly disapprove of President Trump, while only 16% strongly approve of him.

Since turn-out is significantly lower in mid-term elections than in presidential elections, the intensity of feeling of individual voters matters more. Simply put, it takes more motivation for a certain sub-set of voters to come out in the mid-terms than in presidential years when a larger percentage of the electorate routinely cast their ballots.  As a result, the fact that more than twice as many people strongly disapprove of the president than approve him is  likely to be of more electoral consequence than the fact that more than 6-in-10 people disapprove of his job performance, while less than 4-in-10 approve.

There is certainly time between now and November for perceptions of President Trump to improve. But his approval ratings are likely to be less influenced by traditionally important factors like the continued strength of the economy or passing key legislation than the approval ratings of his predecessors.

This is because negative perceptions of President Trump are driven less by his specific issue positions and more by the fact an overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of his behavior, distrust him and do not believe he has demonstrated that he is fit to hold the office.   And close to a majority of Americans strongly believe he fails these critical character and temperament tests.

These kinds of fundamental assessments cannot be easily altered by policy wins.  It will take a real and sustained change in the president’s behavior—of which so far there is no evidence that he is going to attempt, much less succeed in doing.

Perhaps Trump’s biggest problem is the well-earned perception that he is dishonest.  The New Suffolk/USA Today Poll hints at the difficulty Trump has created for himself.  When asked about the Russia Investigation, 57% of Americans have little or no trust in Trump’s denial of collusion, while only 28% have little or no trust in Special Counsel Bob Mueller.  Despite President Trump and his allies’ best efforts to discredit Mueller, in a credibility contest with the president, Mueller wins hands down.

There is plenty of time before November and much can change. And the Republicans have a fairly large structural advantage, including that the composition of the electorate in mid-term elections is usually disproportionately older and older voters tilt Republican. But as we have seen in the special elections to date and the 2017 Virginia and New Jersey Governor’s races,  the strong desire to send a message to Donald Trump is a powerful motivating force—one that just might carry the day..

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates.. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

  • Sponsor: GoLocalProv

    Sample: N=403

    Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

    Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

    Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

    Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

     
  • Are you registered to vote at this address?

    Yes: 100%

     
  • When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

    Unaffiliated: 49%

    Democrat: 32%

    Republican: 15%

    Moderate: .4%

     
  • Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

    Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

    Definitely be voting: 78%

    Probably be voting: 13%

    50-50: 9%

     
  • In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

    Right track: 39%

    Wrong track: 45%

    Mixed: 10%

    Don't know/Refused: .6%

     
  • What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

    Jobs and economy:  21%

    Education: 12%

    Taxes: 12%

    Roads: 12%

    State budget: 9%

    Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

    Healthcare: 3%

    Governor: 3%

    Homelessness: 2%

    Immigration: 2%

    Other: 7%

    Don’t know: .9%

     
  • Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 35%

    Changed for the worse: 16%

    Not changed at all: 43%

    Don't know/Refused: 5%

     
  • Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 26%

    Changed for the worse: 19%

    Not changed at all: 54%

    Don't know/Refused: 1%

     
  • Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

    Net: Approve: 28%

    Definitely approve: 15%

    Probably approve: 14%

    Net: Reject: 67%

    Probably reject: 19%

    Definitely reject: 48%

    Don't know: 4%

     
  • Could you please tell me your age?

    18-24: 7%

    25-34: 15%

    35-44: 15%

    45-54: 20%

    55-64: 17%

    65+: 25%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

     
  • What was the last grade you completed in school?

    0-11: 2%

    High school grad: 16%

    Technical/Vocational school: 1%

    Some college: 23%

    College grad: 34%

    Graduate degree: 24%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

     
  • The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

    $50,000 or less: 27%

    More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

    More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

    More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

    $150,000 or more: 13%

    Don't know/refused: 17%

     
  • What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

    American/None: 21%

    English: 13%

    Italian: 13%

    Irish: 12%

    Black or African American: 6%

    Latino/Hispanic: 6%

    French: 6%

    Portuguese: 3%

    Jewish: 3%

    German: 1%

     
  • Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?


    Excellent: 13%
    Good: 12%
    Fair: 14%
    Poor: 57%
    Never heard of:  0%
    Cannot rate: 3%

     
  • Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 22%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 23%
    Poor: 15%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 6%

     
  • Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 17%
    Good: 22%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 28%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 7%

     
  • Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 9%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 27%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate:  8%

     
  • Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 7%
    Good: 30%
    Fair: 20%
    Poor: 18%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 11%

     
  • Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

    Excellent: 6%
    Good: 28%
    Fair: 30%
    Poor: 31%
    Never heard of: 1%
    Cannot rate: 3%

     
  • Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?


    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 16%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 8%
    Never heard of: 26%
    Cannot rate: 25%

     
  • Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?


    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 20%
    Fair: 28%
    Poor: 17%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 19%

     
  • Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

    Excellent: 4%
    Good: 18%
    Fair: 24%
    Poor: 13%
    Never heard of: 21%
    Cannot rate: 21%

     
  • Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

    Excellent: 5%
    Good: 21%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 10%
    Never heard of: 20%
    Cannot rate: 23%

     
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