The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The myth of the disillusioned Trump voter

Trump's leadership, temperament questioned in new poll results (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Beware the political anecdote.

The New York Times reported Monday that a key congressional district in Pennsylvania isn't thrilled with its choice of voting for Donald Trump for president. The 8th District outside Philadelphia is a quintessential suburban swing district that has the unusual distinction of voting for both Trump and Mitt Romney by the narrowest of margins the past two elections. Hence the New York Times Treatment.

The headline of the piece is “Trump Voters in a Swing District Wonder When the ‘Winning’ Will Start.” A sampling:

Usually, this pathway outside Parx Casino is reserved for self-flagellation, a private lament at the last hundred lost. But lately, as with most any gathering place around here since late January — the checkout line, the liquor store, the park nearby where losing lottery numbers are pressed into the mulch — patrons have found occasion to project their angst outward, second-guessing a November wager.
“Just like any other damn president,” sighed Theresa Remington, 44, a home-care worker and the mother of two active-duty Marines, scraping at an unlit cigarette. She had voted for Donald J. Trump because she expected him to improve conditions for veterans and overhaul the health care system. Now?
“Political bluster,” Ms. Remington said, before making another run at the quarter slots. She wondered aloud how Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont might have fared in the job.

That's a pretty grim picture. And it's quite possible it's an accurate one of this particular district. But if it is, this district is not an accurate microcosm of Trump supporters more broadly. And it's not close.

The same day this story came out, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing very little buyer's remorse among Trump voters. The poll showed just 7 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say Trump has performed worse than they expected him to. Fully 38 percent — five times as many — say he has performed better.

There is a real sense among some that Trump has underperformed. But it's almost wholly on the Democratic side, where 32 percent say he's worse than advertised, and just 3 percent say he's better.

It's worth noting that Pew incorporates lots and lots of independents into its “Republican and Republican-leaning” voter group. In fact, the vast majority of independents are characterized as either “Republican-leaning” or “Democratic-leaning.” So the GOP-leaning group represents the vast, vast majority of Trump voters — all but a few points' worth of Trump's 46 percent share in the 2016 popular vote. If there was a sizable revolt, it would show up here.

Similarly, a Gallup poll was released Monday showing a conspicuous decline in the number of people who say Trump keeps his promises — from 62 percent in early February to 45 percent today. And that poll did show a decline even among Republicans, from 92 percent to 81 percent. But that's still 8 in 10 who think Trump is a man of his word, and the 45 percent overall and 43 percent of independents who say Trump keeps his promises is very much in line with the vote share he got in November.

And finally, Trump's overall approval rating stands at 41 percent in Gallup's polling, which is right about where his favorable rating was upon his election as president (42 percent).

There are definitely more voters like Theresa Remington at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa. In fact, there might be more of them at this casino and in Bensalem than in a lot of places across the country. And maybe she is the tip of the spear when it comes to Trump voters abandoning him.

But for now, she seems to be in very limited company.