As Democrats try to rebrand themselves after a devastating election and months of Russia obsession, a poll commissioned by a party-aligned political action committee shows how far it has to go to recover with the white working class.
That demographic was key to President Donald Trump’s upset victory in November and proved to be the difference in carrying Democratic-leaning states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The poll indicates that Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 37 percentage points among those voters, a 12-point improvement over 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s edge over then-President Barack Obama.
House Majority PAC, which supports Democratic congressional candidates, hired Expedition Strategies to conduct the survey of 1,000 white likely voters without college degrees in key congressional districts in June and July. The poll shows that the voter base has stuck by Trump even as his overall approval ratings have sunk since taking office.
Key findings of the views of that voting bloc include:
- Democrats trail Republicans in the “generic” congressional ballot by 10 points.
A majority, 52 percent, approve of Trump’s job performance; he is more popular than Republican representatives in Congress. He has majority support among white working-class voters both in districts that he won and those that Clinton won.
- A majority believe Trump is doing as well as or better than they expected.
- A majority disapprove of the job Republican and Democratic representatives are doing, but Democrats fared worse, with voters disapproving of their performance by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
- By a 35-point margin, those voters trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats to create jobs. The GOP also enjoys advantages of 19 points on doing more to ensure hard work is rewarded; 15 points on cutting taxes for the middle class; and 11 points on reducing the power of special interests in Congress. Democrats have the edge on only one issue tested: health care.
Republicans pounced on the results, arguing that they show struggling workers trust the GOP more to improve their economic well-being.
“These new poll numbers reaffirm that Americans truly believe the Republican Party when we say we’re going to work to fix the economy, create jobs, and eliminate job-killing regulations,” Republican National Committee spokesman Chase Jennings wrote in an emailed response to questions from LifeZette. “With consumer confidence nearing a 16-year high and the stock market continuing to break records, it’s clear President Trump is moving his “America First” agenda forward. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to struggle to name the leader of their party.”
“It mostly has to do with the eight years before Trump was president … The economy never grew at an appropriate rate.”
Expedition Strategies was blunt in a report detailing its findings, writing: “We suffer from the lack of an identifiable positive agenda. Without it, voters will turn to Trump for progress. With it, we can make significant gains.”
The report also suggested that a staple of the modern Left — demonizing Wall Street — did not play well among poll respondents.
“A narrative about villains did not test as well nor did the Wall Street Republican negative — this reinforces the need to emphasize solutions over villains,” the report states. “Our most important villain [is] Congressional Republicans. It’s worth keeping in mind, Democratic leaders will be a significant villain highlighted by the GOP.”
Eddie Zipperer, a Georgia Military College political science professor and LifeZette contributor, said Trump was the beneficiary of the discontent of voters who fell behind economically during former President Barack Obama’s tenure.
“It mostly has to do with the eight years before Trump was president … The economy never grew at an appropriate rate,” he said.
The House Majority PAC poll comes as Democrats try to recover from a rough decade of elections when Obama was not on the ballot. Despite his success in two elections, his party lost control of both the House and Senate and shed roughly 1,000 state legislative seats across the country.
Unpopularity among the white working class has been a big factor in the Democratic decline. In recognition that attacking Trump is no substitute for an identifiable agenda, party leaders in the House and Senate last unveiled their “Better Deal” agenda, with a slogan of “A better deal: better jobs, better wages, better future” aimed at improving Americans’ job skills and raising salaries.
But Zipperer said the party has a great deal of work ahead of it. He said it was the policies Democrats pursued under Obama that drove away working-class voters in the first place.
‘It was hurting the working class, and people know that now,” he said. “It is going to take more than ‘Better Jobs, Better Wages.’ Those are just words. Nobody believes that.”