By now, a portrait of Donald Trump's most fervent supporters is simple to draw. A white man, probably without a college degree, who opposes the status quo in Washington. We could tack on additional characteristics, but, for our purposes here, there is no need.
Despite the preceding description, whites, men and those without a college degree all view President Obama more positively than they did before Trump began running.
This is not much of a surprise. In Gallup's most recent weekly average, Obama's approval rating is at 54 percent, the highest it has been since shortly after his reelection. Given that Obama is more popular broadly, it is pretty much certain that he would be viewed more positively by individual demographic groups, too.
It's a little strange that he has become more popular, though, given that he has an increased presence on the campaign trail. His favorability spiked in 2012, too, but that increase was paired with a slew of television ads promoting his candidacy and his work in the Oval Office. This time, he is stumping for someone else but nonetheless seeing an improvement in how he is viewed. That other person, Hillary Clinton, is taking most of the flak, which probably helps.
Again, the improvement in Obama's numbers is across the board. If we compare where Obama was in June 2015 (when Donald Trump announced his candidacy) with where he is now, Obama is viewed more positively in every individual demographic group Gallup tracks. In some cases, the improvement is huge.
Young people, college graduates, less-liberal Democrats and Hispanics all view Obama's performance at least nine points more favorably than they did when Trump entered into the race — groups that are also pretty skeptical of Trump's candidacy. The groups that saw the least improvement were Republicans (though those numbers ticked upward) and black Americans, mostly because Obama's approval rating with black voters did not have much room to grow.
Much of the uptick happened at the beginning of the year, as voting began in the presidential primaries. That's the point at which Democrats, Hispanics, whites and independents started to view Obama more positively.
It's important to note that although whites, men and those without college degrees all view Obama more favorably than they did in June of last year, white men without college degrees may not. ("Whites” includes both white men and women, for example.) What it reinforces, though, is that Trump's pitch of changing the status quo and keeping Clinton from being Obama's “third term” may not be as resonant as he thinks. His campaign has repeatedly pointed to poll numbers showing how many Americans think the country is on the wrong track as evidence that people are clamoring for his candidacy. As we noted earlier this month, some part of the “wrong track” sentiment — which has been prevalent for a decade — is that people are worried about the tone of this presidential election and Trump's rhetoric.
Nearly all of Trump's campaign efforts over the past several months have been focused on reinforcing his support in his base. That has been enough to keep him at a little more than 40 percent in the polls. On the infrequent occasions when he goes much above that, it's because he has managed to woo some new people to his cause. Trump has slipped back to his normal percentage of support, with 15 days to go. Railing against Obama's tenure is great for reinforcing support from Republicans and white men without college degrees, clearly. But that strategy leaves more than half the country amenable to the Clinton-Obama campaigning we've seen regularly over the past several weeks.
Since 2010, there have been only seven weeks in which Obama's job approval was as high among white Americans as it is now, with the most recent prior week falling shortly before his second inauguration. White voters picked Mitt Romney by 20 points in the 2012 election. In a new ABC News poll, Trump leads with that group by only 4 points.
It's hard to think there is no connection.