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New Poll Says Voters' Impression Of Trump Will Impact Their Votes In November


This morning we are broadcasting from Del Rio, Texas, which is just a few miles from the U.S. border with Mexico. I am, at this very moment, looking over Lake Amistad on the Rio Grande River. This is the natural divide between the U.S. and Mexico. Del Rio is part of the 23rd Congressional District in Texas, really one of the only swing districts in this red state.

And we've been here talking to voters about what's on their mind ahead of the 2018 midterms and how they measure the presidency of Donald Trump. There's a new poll out this morning from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist that addresses that very topic. And we have NPR's lead political editor, Domenico Montanaro, with us to discuss the findings. Good morning, Domenico.


MARTIN: So I am, at this moment, looking up at the vast Texas sky. And it feels pretty far away from Washington, D.C., and politics. But let's...

MONTANARO: Sounds nice. (Laughter).

MARTIN: Yeah, it is. It's really nice. But let's dig into the poll findings. Let's start with the president and Republicans. They saw a bump in enthusiasm among the base during Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. Did it last?

MONTANARO: Not really. You know, the Kavanaugh factor appears to actually have faded as a big motivating issue for voters. Republicans have maintained their level of enthusiasm. But what the pollsters tell us is that that's more likely because it's October. The closer you get to the election, there's a natural rise. And when you look at Kavanaugh specifically, the number of people saying he's motivating their vote has gone down between both parties, including Republicans.

And we see the president's approval rating back down to 39 percent. We see Democrats opening up a gap of 10 points now on the question of whether you'd want to have a Democrat or Republican in control of Congress and your district.

MARTIN: I feel like you've been on the program several times over the past few months talking about the importance of women in these midterm elections. President Trump is struggling on that front. Does the poll show that he's making any inroads with female voters?

MONTANARO: Not at all. One of our pollsters said that it's really all about the gender gap here in 2018. They said 2010 and 2014 were really about men who were motivated to take back the House and Senate, upset with President Obama. But in 2018, it's about women who are motivated against President Trump.

We saw that up and down on questions related to the president's approval rating, to preference for control of Congress and, in particular, when you look at white, college-educated women, they give the president the lowest approval ratings of almost any group and are among the highest to believe that these elections are very important. So they are very motivated.

MARTIN: Really interesting because we did meet a woman here, Janet Oglethorpe, in the suburbs of San Antonio. Same thing, she's a liberal. She's a Democrat. But the election of Donald Trump shattered her. And she's become politically motivated in a - in a totally new way. So we've definitely seen that play out here. What about issues, Domenico? I mean, does the poll address what are the issues that are going to motivate people to turn out this year?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, first and foremost, the driving factor in this election is President Trump. Two-thirds say that the president will be a factor in their vote. That's 20 points higher than in 2014, when the same question was asked about President Obama. And that's the year Republicans took back the Senate. But when we dove in, specifically at some of the issues that are important to people, the top issue of course was jobs and the economy, followed by health care and immigration - all of which we've heard a lot about in this election.

But when you break it down by party, that's where you see some real differences. Republicans, jobs and the economy and immigration far and away the biggest issues - nothing else comes close. For Democrats, it's health care and climate change. Notice I didn't mention those tax cuts. Republicans hoped to run on those, but they haven't broken through. More people say they'd be motivated to vote for a Democrat because of those tax cuts. And when you ask people about the rising federal deficit, 60 percent, including a plurality of Republicans, say in order to address the deficit, they'd prefer to roll back tax cuts rather than touch entitlements.

MARTIN: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
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