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Monmouth College poll shows President Trump retaining most Obama crossover voters, but his support slipping in three key Midwestern House districts

Duane Bonifer
04/30/2018
MONMOUTH, Ill. — President Donald Trump maintains the support of a majority of voters who supported him in 2016 and former President Barack Obama in 2012 in three key Midwestern House districts, according to a poll conducted by Midwest Matters at Monmouth College.

But Trump has lost the support of enough of those voters to possibly affect his reelection chances in those key states.

The poll surveyed Obama-Trump voters — persons who voted for President Obama in 2012 and then President Trump in 2016 — in three battleground Midwestern congressional districts:

Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, located in the northeastern part of the state and with a Republican incumbent;Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, located in the southwestern part of the state and with a Democratic incumbent;Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, located in the Iron Range northeastern part of the state and with an open seat.
In the three districts polled, strong majorities of voters say they will definitely or probably vote for the president in 2020 (Iowa-1: 63%; Wisconsin-3: 61%; Minnesota-8: 68%). The shares of those who said they will definitely or probably not vote for Trump ranges from 21-25%.

“If the decline in support is consistent statewide, Minnesota, which President Trump lost by just 1.5% in 2016, will be out of reach and Wisconsin, where he won by 1%, could flip back to the Democrats,” said Robin Johnson, coordinator of Midwest Matters and Monmouth political science lecturer. “He would likely hold on to Iowa because his margin of victory was larger at about 10%.”

The profiles of the Obama-Trump voters are similar in all three congressional districts. Most earn less than $50,000, have educational attainment of less than a bachelor’s degree, are women and identify themselves as nonpartisan. More voters identify themselves as middle class in all three districts, ranging from 42% in Iowa-1 to 48% in Wisconsin-3. Working-class voters range from 32% in Wisconsin-3 to 36% in Iowa-1. Working-class and middle-class voters comprise about 80% of voters in all three districts.

The poll also found that support for the president extends to Republican candidates for Congress this fall. A majority of Obama-Trump voters in Minnesota-8 (58%) and Iowa-1 (51%) said they will vote for Republican congressional candidates this year, and a plurality of Wisconsin-3 voters (48%) will do so. Support for Democratic congressional candidates ranges from 20-25%.

MORE POLARIZATION: Similar numbers of voters in the three districts said the political views of a business owner would influence their purchase decision, ranging from 26% in Iowa-1 to 30% in Wisconsin-3. Among those who said their views would not affect their decision ranged from 54% in Minnesota-8 to 58% in Iowa-1.

“This finding, paired with the increasing number of parents who object to their children marrying somebody from the opposite political party, provides further evidence of the partisan divide affecting more areas of American life,” Johnson said.

Among the poll’s other findings:

IMPACT OF PRESIDENT’S PERSONAL LIFE: Roughly one-half of the Obama-Trump voters in the three districts say their opinions about the president haven’t changed as a result of accusations about his personal life; the remainder is closely divided between those whose opinions have improved and worsened.

THE WALL: Strong majorities of Obama-Trump voters in all three congressional districts support expanding the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico (Iowa-1 64%; Wisconsin-3 68%; Minnesota-8 73%). Support for the wall is closely aligned with support for Trump’s reelection, with nearly all of those who say they will definitely vote for the president in 2020 also say they support the wall; between two-thirds and three-fourths of probable Trump 2020 supporters favor the wall.

TRADE VERSUS AGRICULTURE: Opinions varied when voters were asked whether strengthening the manufacturing economy through tariffs was more important than protecting the agricultural economy, which would likely be hurt by tariffs. In Iowa-1 and Wisconsin-3, more voters chose the agricultural economy than manufacturing as the top trade priority (47% to 37% in Iowa; 47% to 36% in Wisconsin). Voters in Minnesota-8 chose manufacturing (52% to 30%).

There is a large drop-off in support for Trump’s reelection among voters who prioritize the agricultural economy. For example, in Iowa-1, 81% of voters who prioritize manufacturing definitely or probably support Trump in 2020, versus 51% of voters who prioritize agriculture.

There is also a wide gap between these two groups of voters in their intentions to vote for Republican congressional candidates, ranging from 58%-74% of manufacturing voters and 35%-39% of agricultural voters.

FIRST AMENDMENT VERSUS SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS: Poll respondents were asked to choose which constitutional amendment was more important to them — the First Amendment (freedom of speech) or the Second Amendment (right to bear arms). In Iowa-1 and Wisconsin-3, pluralities chose the First Amendment; in Minnesota-8, a plurality preferred the Second Amendment.

All three districts have significant rural populations where Second Amendment rights are generally more popular.

METHODOLOGY: The Voter Study Group estimates that 9% of 2012 Obama voters voted for Trump in 2016. The three states were chosen for the poll because they have the most Obama-Trump counties in the nation. Iowa ranks first (31 counties), Wisconsin second (23 counties) and Minnesota third (19 counties). The Midwest contains more than half of all Obama-Trump counties and was the key region that propelled Trump to the presidency. The congressional districts chosen featured clusters of Obama-Trump counties.

The surveys were conducted April 21-23 by Remington Research Group. Participating in the survey were 336 Minnesota-8 voters, 329 Iowa-1 voters and 302 Wisconsin-3 voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012. The margin of error is +/-5.2% with a 95% level of confidence in Iowa-1 and Minnesota-8, and +/-5.3% with a 95% level of confidence in Wisconsin-3.

For more information about the poll, contact Johnson at rojohnso@monmouthcollege.edu or 309-457-2407.