The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

In the states that gave Trump the presidency, 3 in 10 Republicans are embarrassed by him

President Trump likes to trumpet his "tremendous" support and strong base, but polls show that his approval rating is declining. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Donald Trump won the presidency on the strength of 63 million votes across the United States. More specifically, he won it on the strength of 78,000 votes in three states. His narrow wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — 0.06 percent of all the votes cast — gave him the electoral college majority he needed to be inaugurated, despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes overall.

On Sunday, NBC News released new polling conducted by Marist. As is the case in most other places in the country, Trump’s approval rating in those states has sagged, with only about a third of adults approving of his job performance. Nearly 4 in 10 adults in each state view him with strong disapproval.

What jumped out at me in these poll results, though, was another set of numbers. In each state, more than 6 in 10 adults say that Trump’s conduct as president leaves them embarrassed, while only about a quarter say that Trump makes them proud.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans and those who voted for Trump are more likely to say that they’re proud than embarrassed.

But notice an interesting detail on that graph: About 1 in 5 Trump voters and 3 in 10 Republicans agree with the majority that his conduct has been embarrassing.

Even more interesting is that white working-class respondents — the group that’s often given credit (or, in some quarters, blame) for Trump’s victory — is more likely to say that they are embarrassed than proud.

In that group, Trump’s overall approval rating is underwater in both Michigan and Wisconsin; in Pennsylvania, his approval rating with whites without college degrees is only two points higher than his disapproval.

The motivating issue for those voters was ostensibly concern over the economy. On economic issues, Trump fares decently, with more people in each state* generally saying that Trump’s making the economy stronger than say he’s making it weaker.

Notice, though, that the opinions of white working-class residents of each state align more with the overall views of Trump than with his base of support. That, of course, is because a lot of the white working-class voters in these three states are Democrats who, in elections past, helped keep the states blue. But Trump’s argument has been that this is the core of his base of support. At this point, it doesn’t look like it.

On manufacturing, we see the same split between the population and Trump’s base: General skepticism that Trump is succeeding on manufacturing, with working-class whites in each state leaning more toward the overall opinion.

When we look at the proud-versus-embarrassed question this way, the split is clear.

Marist asked another question that’s revelatory. Of Trump voters, the pollster asked why they supported him, because they liked Trump or because they disliked Clinton? At least 30 percent in each state said it was because they didn’t like Clinton.

Now, this may be after-the-fact rationalization, an excuse offered for supporting a candidate whom they now find embarrassing. But given that Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by 0.22, 0.72 and 0.76 percentage points, respectively, the idea that 2 in 10 now say they’re embarrassed by him and 3 in 10 of his supporters in each state now say that they only did it because they hated Clinton? That’s not a recipe for reelection.

* We’ve made Michigan’s columns in the graphs a vibrant shade of scarlet.