Opinion writer

President Trump listens as West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announces that he is switching parties to become a Republican during the president’s rally at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va. (Justin Merriman/Getty Images)

President Trump and his advisers understandably are obsessed with keeping his base’s support. For a politician with so little appeal among members of the other party and independents and who won the minority of the popular vote, he cannot afford to lose those who put him over the top in 2016. But that is precisely what is happening.

NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump’s job approval rating in three key states that helped propel him to the White House — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — stands below 40 percent, according to a trio of NBC News/Marist polls.

In addition, Democrats enjoy double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania on the question of which party voters prefer to control Congress after the 2018 midterms, and they hold an 8-point advantage in Wisconsin.

In all three states, more than six in 10 voters say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them, compared to just a quarter who have said it’s made them proud.

While a small plurality of voters approve of his handling of the economy, more than 60 percent disapprove of his handling of foreign affairs, an ominous sign as he prepares to reveal his Afghanistan policy to the country.

Even worse for Trump, the pollsters find:

Among white residents without a college education, President Trump outperforms his overall job performance rating in each of these states.  However, he fails to achieve 50% among this group, many of whom were his most ardent supporters in the 2016 election.  In fact, in Michigan and Wisconsin, the plurality of these residents now disapprove of how the president is doing his job.

By at least two to one, more residents in Michigan, 38%, Pennsylvania, 39%, and Wisconsin, 42%, strongly disapprove than strongly approve of how the president is doing his job.  Only 19% of residents in Michigan, 16% of those in Pennsylvania, and 16% of Wisconsin adults strongly approve of how the president is performing in office.

In Pennsylvania and Wisconsin his support among Republicans is down to 71 percent, an extraordinarily low number for a GOP president.

All that dog-whistling on the Confederacy, so much pandering on the Muslim ban and Southern border wall, and meaningless chest-beating on trade have been for naught? It looks that way. Perhaps Trump has overinterpreted or misinterpreted his support from such voters, imagining that they’ll be mollified by racial politics and wedge issues. He after all hasn’t accomplished what he promised — tax cuts, infrastructure, a brand new health-care plan. In addition, “President Trump campaigned on the promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, but is he winning or losing on that pledge?  In Pennsylvania, a majority of residents, 51%, say Trump is failing on this issue, and nearly half of those in Wisconsin, 48%, and Michigan, 47%, agree.”

And rather than show how much of a “winner” he is and how competent he is in comparison to life-time pols, he has revealed himself to be overwhelmed by the job, perpetually caught up in scandal and a terrible manager. (He not only hired the wrong people, but he also allowed their conflicts to paralyze the White House and distract the country.) You also wonder whether his incessant whining about the media has ceased to deflect blame and, in fact, sounds like a lame excuse.

Moreover, Trump brings up Hillary Clinton — still — for a good reason. Many, many voters — surely as many as the margin of victory in these three states — voted as much against Clinton as they did for Trump. In Michigan, 30 percent of Trump voters said just that. In Pennsylvania the number was 38 percent and in Wisconsin 34 percent. Without Clinton around to mock and badger, Trump is having a hard time holding on to support in crucial Midwestern states. When judged on his own merits, he looks more like the political losers he used to mock than the winning real estate mogul who won the presidency. It’s reassuring to know he cannot fool all of the people — even his biggest fans — all of the time.