Trump’s Base Begins To Soften


To:         Interested Parties

From:    Margie Omero, PSB Research

Re:         Recent Polling on President Trump

Date:     March 13, 2017



PSB conducted online interviews with 800 general population respondents in the US. Interviews were conducted from March 6-9, 2017. February polling was conducted in the same way (February 6-8, 2017).

Our recent national poll shows Trump to be falling short of Americans’ expectations, even more so than in February. “Going too far” seems to be a driver, particularly for so-called Trump Regretters who have moved from Trump somehow since November. In this climate, Clinton voters are more poised to take politically-motivated consumer actions.

Compared to February, Clinton voters have grown slightly more enthusiastic, and Trump voters slightly less so.

 Clinton voters say they were about as enthusiastic for her in November as Trump voters were for him (48%, 52% very enthusiastic, respectively). This enthusiasm gap has closed some since our February poll (46%, 55%). In fact now more Clinton than Trump voters say they’d support their candidate strongly if the election were held again today (58%, 51% very enthusiastic, respectively).

Trump is weak relative to expectations. (Figure 1)

Trump is falling short of expectations. In fact, three of the four traits on which Americans rate him as doing “more than they expected” are negative. He is particularly weak on “going too far,” and “getting sidetracked by things that aren’t important.” Meanwhile he falls well short of expectations on “unifying the country,” “draining the swamp of Washington politics as usual,” and “surrounding himself with the best people.”

Trump is weaker on expectations compared to February, particularly with his base. (Figure 2)

To be sure, Trump voters give Trump better ratings than do everyone else; his voters are more likely to say he’s exceeding rather than falling short of expectations. Yet much of the decay in Trump’s image from February comes from his own base. For example, in February half of Trump voters felt he was “surrounding himself with the best people” more than they expected. Now only 39% of Trump voters have that view.

About one in ten could be called “Trump Regretters” who have moved from Trump in some way. For them, Trump has been going farther than they expected.

As in February, we found about one in ten Americans to have moved away from Trump—either in their vote or in intensity (becoming less enthusiastic Trump voters or more enthusiastic Clinton voters). These voters only identify one dimension on which Trump is doing more than they expected, and that’s “going too far” (54% more than expected, 35% about as expected, 11% less than expected).

Partisans disagree on how they imagine CEOs view Trump.

Our survey also covered a short series of questions about the impact of businesses’ engaging with Trump on politics. And as a level set, we asked voters how much they thought CEOs generally supported Trump. Voters are divided on this; about half of Clinton voters assume most CEOs disapprove of the President (36% approve, 47% disapprove) while about eight in ten Trump voters think CEOs generally approve of Trump.

Clinton voters are more likely to support the idea of CEOs criticizing a president (any president). (Figure 3)

Perhaps different perceptions of CEOs’ views toward Trump leads to differences in the appropriate political voice for a CEO. Even when we framed the question as “regardless of how you feel about President Trump,” Clinton voters were twice as likely to say it’s appropriate for business leaders to criticize a president if “personal values or those of their customers are being threatened.” A slim plurality of Trump voters agree.

Prioritizing a company’s political values may be more important to Clinton voters than to Trump voters. (Figure 4)

Clinton voters also seem more likely to prioritize a company’s politics and values themselves in their own purchasing decisions. Majorities of both Clinton and Trump voters say they prioritize “a fair price” over a company that “shares my own values”—but Clinton voters were more closely divided (57% fair price, 43% share values) than Trump voters (68%, 32%). Note we made it not so easy to prioritize a company’s values with the question language “even if it’s sometimes inconvenient or more expensive,” since that is how customers frequently perceive the tradeoff they must make.

And Clinton voters are backing that up with twice as many politically-motivated purchases as Trump voters.

Clinton voters are more likely to have taken a variety of recent political actions since January of this year. A fifth of Clinton voters have stopped using a product, or changed their habits because of a company’s political values (21%) or a CEO or business leader’s statements on Trump (21%). Similar numbers of Clinton voters have contacted a Member of Congress (20%) or donated to a political organization (18%). About one in ten Trump voters have taken these actions (12%, 11%, 10%, and 10%, respectively).

(Figure 1: Trump is Weak Relative to Expectations)                                                                                               (Figure 2: Trump’s Ratings Have Softened With His Base)



(Figure 3: Clinton Votes Are Far More Likely to Say It’s Okay…)                                                                           (Figure 4: More Clinton Voters than Trump Voters Say…)


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“Trump Regretters” Say He’s Going Too Far

PSB’s recent polling (800 interviews of adults, conducted online between 2/6-2/8) shows Trump just meeting or falling short of expectations. While Trump receives some of his best ratings on “getting things done,” and “keeping promises” generally, he is more likely to fall short of than exceed expectations on more specific promises like “draining the swamp” or even “making America great again.”

Further, approximately 11% of adults are Trump Regretters in some way—they voted for Trump but now would change their mind, or have moved away from him (or toward Clinton) in intensity. For these voters, the perception Trump is “going too far” may be a big driver.

Some key findings from the poll:

  • On none of the 14 dimensions we tested did Trump exceed expectations more often than not.
  • Over a third (35%) say he is “going too far” more than expected, with identical ratings for “getting sidetracked by things that aren’t important.”
  • Yet Trump earns nearly identical marks for two positive traits: “keeping promises” and “getting things done” (34% more than expected for each).
  • He receives particularly low marks on “unifying the country,” with even his own voters giving him lukewarm marks here (18% more than expected, 58% as much, 24% less). 
  • Trump underperforms on some of his key campaign promises. On measures like “surrounding himself with the best people,” “draining the swamp of Washington politics as usual,” and “making America great again,” more say he’s done less than expected than more.
  • About 11% of adults are what we call Trump Regretters. They were Trump voters who wouldn’t vote for him today, or have become unenthusiastic in their Trump support. Unenthusiastic Clinton voters who have grown enthusiastic toward her, and non-voters who now would vote for Clinton are also included in this group.
  • These Trump Regretters are particularly likely to say Trump has been “going too far” more than they expected (58%). And regression analysis shows it is one of the best predictors of being a Regretter.


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