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Is Trump's base fraying?

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump famously described his core supporters as impervious to outside influence -- even...

Posted: Dec 9, 2017 2:43 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2017 2:43 PM

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump famously described his core supporters as impervious to outside influence -- even when it when it came to his own troubling or divisive behavior.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody," he said at a 2015 rally in Iowa, "and I wouldn't lose voters."

Support narrows across a wide range of typically friendly demographics

He's slid among white evangelicals and non-college-educated whites

For many pundits, this has become a kind of gospel. Trump was elected in 2016 against what most considered insurmountable odds -- and despite a series of allegations of sexual misconduct that dovetailed with the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

But a new national Pew Research Center poll released this week suggests the bonds that delivered him to the White House could be fraying since his inauguration. The survey, which was conducted between November 29 and December 4, showed Trump's support narrowing across a wide range of typically friendly demographics, from evangelicals to the elderly and whites without college degrees.

There is some overlap between groups there, of course, and the survey compared Trump's numbers now to his scores in February, when he enjoyed a modest post-inaugural bump. But with his approval consistently at or around historic lows for a president at this point in his first term and Republicans in Congress struggling themselves, it has become increasingly clear that even his base is not immune to the downward pressure.

Trump's most notable slide came among white evangelical Protestants. In February, 78% said they approved of his job performance. In the new poll, that number falls to 61% -- a 17-point drop. No other demographic shed more than 10 percentage points.

The President is also now underwater with white non-college adults, his approval at 46%, down from 56% earlier this year. Among all whites, he is down 8 points, to 41%. Trump has also seen significant falloff with older Americans. Among seniors (65+), he's down double digits, from 48% to 38%. For those with retirement on the (perhaps distant) horizon, ages 50 to 64, Trump's approval is also at 38%, down from 47% in February.

The significance of those numbers is underlined by post-election polling from 2016, which helped us map Trump's strongest demographics. Per a Pew report at the time, 67% of whites without college degrees voted for Trump, while only 28% backed Hillary Clinton, the largest exit poll margin in that demographic since 1980.

A Monmouth University poll in August showed that six in 10 people who approved of Trump's job performance (61%) said they couldn't think of anything Trump could do that would make them disapprove of him. A similar 57% of those who disapproved of his performance said they would never change their minds.

But in a similar question from the Public Religion Research Institute this week, that number is significantly different. Only 37% of people who approved of Trump said there was almost nothing he could do to make them reconsider their support -- nearly 25 points lower than the Monmouth question from August. A similar six in 10 people who disapprove say they would never change their minds in the PRRI poll. (These are not apples-to-apples comparisons since different pollsters use different sampling and question wording. Still, the figures are striking.)

Though the Pew numbers clearly show a downward trend since Trump took office, one that's in line with just about every other reputable poll on record, the durability of the President's base support in the long term remains an open question. And even if it does hold, or claw its way back, there's no guarantee it will keep its political clout.

RELATED: A very scary number for Republicans heading into 2018

There are signs that Trump's base may in fact be slipping: A poll from Gallup showed the number of people who self-identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents has also tapered off - falling from 42% in November 2016 to just 37% now. Their average in 2017 is slated to become the lowest share of Americans in more than a quarter century of surveys.

Given those broad losses, there is good reason to further interrogate some core, underlying assumptions about the electorate. Among them: Does Trump have enough support to bolster his loyalists in the midterms, solidify opposition to the specter of impeachment or carry him to re-election in 2020? It's becoming increasingly difficult to say.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 13260

Reported Deaths: 625
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89324
Lauderdale67855
Madison65421
Scott58910
Neshoba51231
Forrest48034
Jones46713
DeSoto4616
Leake38410
Holmes36523
Rankin3496
Jackson29613
Copiah2784
Attala27014
Lincoln24320
Monroe24224
Leflore24025
Harrison2346
Newton2243
Lamar2194
Yazoo2152
Pearl River20327
Pike19611
Adams18615
Lowndes1607
Noxubee1586
Washington1535
Warren1506
Bolivar14010
Jasper1393
Oktibbeha13410
Smith13110
Covington1271
Chickasaw12612
Clarke12616
Kemper12510
Lafayette1233
Carroll11310
Wayne1090
Marion1088
Lee1045
Clay993
Winston981
Coahoma983
Lawrence901
Hancock8711
Simpson850
Itawamba857
Yalobusha824
Wilkinson829
Montgomery781
Sunflower773
Grenada752
Jefferson Davis712
Union715
Tippah7011
Marshall693
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne581
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall510
Tunica483
Perry462
Jefferson400
Prentiss383
Stone300
Choctaw292
Webster271
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George191
Alcorn151
Benton140
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 14478

Reported Deaths: 551
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile1996109
Jefferson161488
Montgomery118630
Marshall6499
Tuscaloosa50512
Lee49832
Franklin4476
Shelby43319
Tallapoosa39662
Butler34411
Chambers33623
Madison2964
Baldwin2749
Elmore2637
Etowah23610
DeKalb2213
Coffee2001
Walker1981
Dallas1973
Sumter1916
Lowndes18610
Houston1644
Morgan1621
Autauga1593
Calhoun1413
Choctaw1414
Pike1360
Colbert1362
Marengo1336
Hale1293
Russell1280
Lauderdale1282
Randolph1257
Wilcox1187
Marion11310
Bullock1111
Barbour1101
Clarke1022
St. Clair1021
Pickens934
Talladega912
Greene894
Chilton871
Dale830
Cullman760
Limestone740
Jackson692
Covington651
Washington645
Winston620
Macon602
Bibb591
Crenshaw582
Henry562
Blount491
Escambia433
Lawrence420
Coosa331
Geneva330
Cherokee332
Perry310
Monroe282
Clay272
Conecuh251
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
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