MCAP poll: Erie voters give Trump mixed results

Tuesday March 26, 2019

President gets good marks on economy, poor on job performance

trumpA new poll released today by the Mercyhurst University Center for Applied Politics (MCAP), the third iteration of the same poll, shows that Erie County has some good news and some bad news for President Donald Trump.

In two historical markers for predicting the outcome of presidential elections – a president’s’ job performance and the state of the nation’s economy – Erie County voters delivered mixed results for Trump.

Like its predecessors, the new poll included a standard battery of questions addressing a wide range of issues related to the public’s perception of Donald Trump and his performance as president. The goal of the project is to provide an accurate account of the evolution of public opinion in Erie County for the duration of the Trump administration. Two more MCAP polls of the same nature are expected before the 2020 election.

Erie was one of three counties in Pennsylvania that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016, and helped make Trump the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1988.

In the latest poll, registered Erie County voters give the president poor marks for his job performance with only 35% approving of the job he is doing as president; a majority of 55% say they disapprove. Likewise, today only 43% of voters have a favorable opinion of the president and 61% say they believe the nation is on the wrong track; while 33% say it is headed in the right direction. These numbers contrast with those obtained in polls of Erie County voters conducted in February and October 2017, which were more positive for the president.

On the flip side, if Trump’s job performance and favorability numbers suggest cause for concern as we approach the 2020 election, voters’ perception of the economy may be cause for confidence. For the first time since Trump’s election, a solid majority, 58%, of Erie County voters describe the state of the nation’s economy as either “excellent” (7%) or “good” (51%) as opposed to “not so good” (31%) or “poor” (9%). Voters’ perceptions of Erie County’s economy are also positive. Today, voters’ perceptions of their families’ financial situations, the availability of jobs, and the overall state of the Erie County economy are more positive than they were in February and October of 2017. In addition, half of all voters approve of the way Trump is handling national defense and terrorism.

In terms of the 2020 election, MCAP Director Dr. Joe Morris says no single variable can be used to accurately predict the outcome of all presidential elections, but in nearly every election since the middle of the twentieth century incumbent candidates for president who had a national approval rating of 49% or higher at the time of the election won reelection.

The state of the nation’s economy, Morris notes, is widely considered to be another important predictor of the outcome of presidential elections. Simply stated, econometric models used to forecast the outcome of presidential elections are among the most accurate models available. The results of the present poll suggest that Erie County voters’ perceptions of the national and local economies are increasingly positive.

The poll also compared Erie County voters’ perceptions of Congress and the news media since Trump became president.

Complete poll results can be viewed on the MCAP web page.