Poll: Trump divides Rhode Island working class

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, center, greets attendees during an election-night party at the Hilton Midtown hotel in New York.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, center, greets attendees during an election-night party at the Hilton Midtown hotel in New York. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO /ANDREW HARRER

WARWICK – A new poll released on Wednesday shows support for President Donald Trump among Rhode Island’s so-called working class has dropped slightly, and voters are largely divided by his ongoing initiatives.

The Taubman Center of American Politics and Policy at Brown University’s Watson Institute polled five U.S. counties, including Kent County, to determine how different areas of the country view polarizing issues.

“Our deep drill down into different American settings shows a fiercely divided nation,” said Jim Morone, director of the Taubman Center, in a statement.

The center defines Kent County as a “working class suburb.” Respondents were mostly college-educated white adults.

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Trump last year earned the most votes in Kent County with 46.7 percent. He beat Democratic candidate Hilary R. Clinton by a margin of 0.6 percent. Clinton, however, won in Rhode Island.

The poll, conducted between April 5-10, shows Trump’s approval rating in Kent County totaling 43 percent, representing a 3.7 percentage point decline from his vote total. The drop mirrored a trend in three of the five polled areas, according to the center.

“Trump’s current approval ratings suggest that many voters who supported him in the election do not approve of his job performance,” according to the center.

The poll, however, showed no evidence of collapsing support, “despite the many controversies that have surrounded his administration,” according to the center. But on issues, Kent County was largely divided.

Fifty percent of respondents favored a temporary ban on selected countries compared with 35 percent opposed. Forty-six percent favored building a wall along the Mexican border compared with 44 percent opposed. About one of every three respondents wanted to see the country pull back on trade agreements, especially with China.

More than half of respondents opposed defunding Planned Parenthood, especially at the expense of shutting down the government. Forty-eight percent of respondents did not believe Trump had ties to Russia, and more than half disagreed with the concept that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in New York.

Trump earlier this year accused Obama of wiretapping. The accusation came via Twitter.

The Taubman poll also affirmed ongoing confusion about the terms “Affordable Care Act” and “Obamacare,” which are one in the same and refer to the controversial health care reform law enacted under Obama.

Most respondents, 49 percent, opposed getting rid of the Affordable Care Act compared to 36 percent in favor. Conversely, 41 percent of respondents favored getting rid of Obamacare, equaling the 41 percent opposed.

The confusion of the two terms was widely reported earlier this year when the Trump administration failed to garner enough Congressional support to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Other public opinion polls showed many U.S. citizens opposed to Obamacare, but in favor of the Affordable Care Act.

Eighty-percent of Kent County respondents were white, and 59 percent reported holding a college degree. The largest percentage of respondents, 44 percent, were aged 65 years or older. Thirty-percent were between the ages of 45 and 64.

The center polled two counties, including Kent County, that switched from Democratic in 2012 to Republican in 2016. It polled one county that switched from Republican in 2012 to Democrat in 2016. The remaining two counties included one that voted for the Democratic nominee in both elections and one that voted for the Republican nominee in both elections.

Support for Trump largely mirrored what was seen during the election, but the poll also revealed 44 percent of respondents saying they have personally backed opposition to President Trump by writing letters, going to meetings or contributing money.

“So, here’s a county where 49 percent of the population says Trump is doing an excellent or good job while 44 percent claim to be organizing against him,” Morone said.

The center polled 2,812 voters, and has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer.

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