A running survey of 5,000 American voters has found that sixteen percent of those who voted for Donald Trump after having previously voted for Barack Obama now regret their vote, the highest rate in any group studied.
The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, a bipartisan “back-panel poll” that has returned to the same voters four times since 2011 to track shifts in public attitudes, has found that “Although the majority (70 percent)” of those voters still “approves of Trump’s job performance, 22 percent disapprove — a rate twice as high as that of all Trump voters.”
That small difference is all the more pronounced because relatively few American voters have actually changed their minds since the election.
“The strong partisanship evident in voters’ views of Trump is also reflected in whether individuals regret the decisions they made in November,” writes Robert Griffin, a director of quantitative analysis at the Center for American Progress who participated in the study.
Overall, very few of those who report voting in the election say that they have regrets (6 percent). This is only slightly higher than when these respondents were interviewed in December 2016 (3 percent). The vast majority of voters would vote the same way given a second chance.
Trump and Clinton voters are similar: 6 percent of both groups regret the vote they made in November. Only about 3 percent of third-party voters express similar regrets. However, 16 percent of Obama-Trump voters regret voting for Trump — the highest of any group examined here. By contrast, only 3 percent of Romney-Clinton voters regret voting for Clinton.
Moreover, Democrats enjoy a 7-point lead in the generic congressional midterm ballot for 2018 that “derives largely from uncertainty and defection among Trump voters” because Republicans lead Democrats among Obama-Trump crossover voters by 22 points. According to Griffin, “about 20 percent” of that group “say that they will vote for a third-party candidate, are uncertain whom they will vote for, or will not vote” — altogether, “more than twice the number of Clinton voters reporting the same.”
Put another way, Donald Trump ran as a “change agent” while media and Hillary Clinton opponents framed her as “the establishment,” mirroring the way Barack Obama won in 2008. A small, but crucial segment of the voting public was able to overlook Trump’s birtherism, race-baiting, and general boorishness because he was supposedly a fresh face in politics. But for many of these voters, the new has worn off.
“There’s just a higher amount of uncertainty in Trump’s coalition,” Griffin tells POLITICO. “This was probably something like 9 percent of the people who voted for him. They’re highly uncertain about what they’re going to do in this upcoming election.”
Some of the erosion in support is probably due to failed promises, such as Trump’s vow to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act with an unspecified, yet somehow far superior, plan. Some measure of the discontent among Obama-Trump voters has to derive from Trump’s relentless pandering to his far-right base — for example, with a Muslim ban and the cancellation of DACA — while his promises to build infrastructure and create jobs languish.
But one would hope that having elected the nation’s first black president, at least some these voters are also disturbed by how easily and stupidly Trump sweeps back every bit of progress achieved in the previous eight years, as if erasing Obama’s legacy was his only real priority.
One would hope.
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