The poll comes during a manufacturing recession in the Midwest.
A poll released Thursday found that only 37% of Pennsylvanians believe Donald Trump deserves a second term. The state's 20 electoral votes, tied for 5th most with Illinois, are critical to both parties' presidential hopes.
Franklin & Marshall College's monthly poll also found that, while a majority of Pennsylvanians — who reelected Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last year — say their state is "headed in the right direction," only 35% think the same about the nation more broadly.
The poll also found that only 37% of Pennsylvania voters think that Trump is doing a "good" or "excellent" job.
Trump needs to repeat his 2016 performance in the Midwest to win reelection. Without victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — all states he won by less than 1% — he would have to look for victories in battleground states he lost in 2016, like Nevada, New Mexico, and Minnesota.
Unfortunately for Trump, his approval rating has sunk in every battleground state since taking office, now sitting at 45% in Pennsylvania and 43% in both Wisconsin and Michigan. Earlier this year, Politico reported the Trump campaign's internal polling in the Midwest had stoked concerns about its 2020 prospects in the region.
In 2016, an essential part of Trump's message in the Midwest was his promise to bring back industrial jobs from overseas, return "millions of workers on the sidelines" to the workforce, and renegotiate trade deals like NAFTA so they would "work for America."
That message seemed to resonate, at least with some. Midwestern voters who had supported President Barack Obama in 2012 went for Trump in 2016, with many of those voters saying they thought Trump’s economic policies were more friendly to working- and middle-class voters than Hillary Clinton’s. (Not all who trumpeted "economic anxiety" ahead of the 2016 election were concerned about finances, as subsequent studies have shown.)
But the viability of Trump's economic message is being called into question as this year's manufacturing recession costs thousands of workers their jobs in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and Trump has failed to deliver on many of his campaign promises.
And the voters who gave Trump the White House might not support him in 2020 if they feel that he hasn't delivered on his pledge to "bring jobs back."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.