Assuming President Trump’s State of the Union address goes as well as last year’s speech to a joint session of Congress, Trump’s approval rating, which lingered below 40% for much of last year, will likely see a bump tomorrow, along with stocks, which today are seeing their worst daily drop since the Brexit vote.
But Trump’s low national approval rating masks something that’s important when evaluating Trump’s popularity: His approval varies dramatically from state to state. Indeed, in many of the states that he carried on election night, his approval rating is in excess of 60%.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Trump averaged 50% or higher approval in 12 states in total, primarily in the states where he received the most votes in the 2016 election.
In addition to West Virginia, the states where at least half the respondents approved of Trump included several western states (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Alaska), several southern states (Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas) and two Midwestern states (North and South Dakota).
Trump earned between 40% and 49% approval – above his national average – in 20 states. These were predominantly in the Midwest and South, and included several of the key rustbelt states that were critical to his 2016 victory: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Fewer than 40% of respondents approved of Trump in the remaining 18 states, 14 of which are located in the East and West – his worst performing regions in the election. In addition to Vermont, his ratings were particularly low – below 30% – in Massachusetts (27%), California (29%) and Hawaii (29%). Maryland, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island round out the states where fewer than one-third of the respondents approved.
These results are based on 171,469 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted nationally throughout 2017. Gallup interviewed more than 1,000 respondents in 39 states in 2017, and no fewer than 471 in any other state. Each state’s sample is weighted to match U.S. Census Bureau demographic parameters for that state’s adult population. The full results by state appear at the end of this article.
Big State-Small State Divide:
As Gallup explained, the seeming discrepancy between Trump’s national approval rating and his state-by-state ratings is actually a reflection of the fact that the group with ratings below the national average includes some of the most populous states in the nation, particularly California, New York and Illinois. By contrast, most of the states with 50% or higher approval of Trump are among the least populous – the exceptions being Tennessee and Kentucky.
Altogether, Trump received approval ratings above his 38% national average in 33 states and below it in 17.
While conservatives applauded Trump’s performance, the president averaged the lowest first-year approval rating of any president in Gallup history, and lagged Barack Obama’s 57% first-year rating by nearly 20 points. Naturally, this is reflected in Trump’s state-level ratings, with only 12 states giving him 50% or higher approval, compared with 41 for Obama in 2009.
The 50% mark is an important threshold in presidential election years for presidents seeking a second term, as it correlates strongly with reelection. Popular presidents also tend to weather midterm election years with fewer party losses in Congress.
Trump’s latest weekly approval rating is 38%, matching his 2017 average. According to Gallup, the latest polling suggests the president could be a liability for candidates in the fall. Already, more than 30 veteran Republican lawmakers in tossup districts have opted to retire instead of running again.
Still, Trump’s relatively high ratings in West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota, all states with Democrats defending Senate seats in 2017, could impact the party’s political calculus in those races.