A presidential plummet
In a few months, Arkansans shift views on Trump
Recently released polling in Arkansas shows President Donald Trump starting to lose favor with an electorate that gave him a huge win last November.
The president’s job approval rating, while still at the 50 percent favorable mark, has been dropping during his first months in office.
Arkansas gave Trump stout support — almost 61 percent of the vote — in his 2016 general election race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Consequently, Arkansas has been one of those places expected to remain a bastion of support for Trump.
Post-election polling suggests something else is happening here.
The numbers come from statewide polling by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. The most recent survey was done on July 20 among 511 Arkansas voters.
Keep in mind that, with that size sample, the most recent poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.
Nevertheless, the numbers suggest changing perspectives in Arkansas on this presidency, especially when compared with earlier results from these same pollsters. (The earlier polls were of similarly sized samples with similar margins of error.)
Different sets of respondents were asked in February and in April and again earlier this month if they approve or disapprove of the job the president is doing.
The February numbers showed Trump with 60 percent job approval, compared to a 35 percent disapproval rating. His approval almost matched his win in the 2016 election.
In April, the poll margin shifted to 53 percent approval and 39 percent disapproval, still respectable but dropping.
Now come the July numbers — 50 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval.
Break those most recent numbers down further and Arkansans really do appear to be seriously divided on the question of Trump’s job performance.
It isn’t what might have been expected from Arkansas so early in this new administration.
While 39 percent of the respondents “strongly approve” of the job Trump is doing, 40 percent “strongly disapprove.”
Those who “somewhat approve,” at 11 percent, tip the overall approval numbers in the president’s favor. Just 7 percent “somewhat disapprove.”
Not at all surprising is the tiny 3 percent with “no opinion” on how the president is doing.
Jay Barth, the Hendrix College political science professor who helped craft the poll, pointed out in his analysis of results that only about one in five Arkansans “have any mixed feelings about what is still a very new president.” They either like what he’s doing, or they don’t.
Another thought from Barth worth noting is his conclusion that this state, which didn’t really show a gender gap during the 2016 campaign, is showing one now.
In this recent poll, as many women (49 percent) strongly disapprove of President Trump’s performance as men who strongly approve (also 49 percent).
There’s more to come from the polling, which is being released a little bit at a time this week. But one interesting tidbit is already out there.
The July poll respondents substantially disapprove of the president’s activity on Twitter, which has been Trump’s avenue of choice to communicate with Americans.
A full 56 percent of poll respondents disapprove of the practice while 23 percent approve and 21 percent claim no opinion.
Again, women were more disapproving of the president’s Twitter habit than men. Women disapproved by 63 percent, compared to 19 percent of women who approve the practice. Among men, 48 percent disapprove and 28 percent approve.
These results are just six months into Trump’s controversial presidency, mired as it is in congressional and Department of Justice investigations.
The shifting perspective from within the state’s electorate at least suggests people in Arkansas are paying attention to the drama being played out on the national stage.
That’s good. None of us can afford to do any less.