About 7,000 registered Democrats switched parties in the economically hard-hit Youngstown, Ohio, area, in 2016, and presumably went on to vote for Donald Trump in the general election. This apparently may be the reason why CNN arranged a small focus group representing a cross-section of the electorate there to see how Trump-voting Democrats assessed his presidency one year in.
Trump carried the important swing state of Ohio in the presidential election, but since taking office, has registered historically low approval ratings in national polling data.
CNN, a television network that has been very critical of the president, and vice versa, may have been surprised with the findings, since the dialogue appears to run counter to the accepted narrative.
In the heavily edited segment, when asked how the president is doing, the former Democrats replied with assessments such as “fantastic,” “phenomenal,” and “better that I would have ever dreamed,” RealClearPolitics reported. Whether this perception carries over into the 2018 midterm elections to help the GOP retain control of Congress, or whether the Democrats will capture one or both of the chambers (which would fit with historical trends), remains to be seen, however.
In their discussion with CNN correspondent Martin Savidge, the Ohioans seemed very supportive of the president’s focus on his America first, job-creating agenda. They also indicated that immigration is a very important issue, and all agreed that generally the media does not give Trump a fair shake, even while acknowledging concern with some of the president’s inflammatory rhetoric and/or tweets.
With that in mind, in October, 2017, Bill Clinton’s former pollster pushed back against conventional wisdom about Donald Trump’s low approval ratings and how that relates to facts on the ground. He seemed to suggest that voters can hold at least two thoughts simultaneously, i.e., disliking Trump’s overheated or hyperbolic discourse (or by extension, unnecessary feuds with his political foes), but still back the policies of the man who was a former Democrat and independent and who ran for and won the presidency on the GOP ticket.
Donald Trump has famously branded CNN as “very fake news,” and reserved four spots on his fake news awards list (that temporarily broke the internet last night when it was released) for that network.
A year-end analysis by the Pew Research Center found that “the president received just 5 percent positive coverage in 2017,” The Hill reported yesterday, as contrasted with 80 percent positive coverage for Barack Obama in his first year in office. Last year, a study from Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy similarly suggested that media coverage in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency was overwhelmingly negative on all issues based on an evaluation of CNN plus CBS, NBC, Fox News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and three European news outlets.
Watch the CNN focus group with the Youngstown Trump crossover voters and draw your own conclusions.