(CN) – President Donald Trump’s approval numbers dipped below 40% as jitters over a potential recession materialize, but Democrats warn the president’s approval ratings remain strong in rural areas of swing states.
Anxiety over the short-term health of the U.S. economy has dented Trump’s approval ratings according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, to 38% from a career-high 44% in July.
The most significant factor in the decline is growing disillusionment with the U.S.-China trade war and fears it could precipitate a recession. Six in ten respondents said a recession over the next year is likely. The same percentage said they are concerned the ongoing trade war will raise prices on consumer goods.
It’s no secret Trump’s prospects for a second term are almost exclusively contingent on the health of the economy, as many of his supporters otherwise recoil from his persistent feuds, Twitter tirades and overall personal comportment.
Trump lashed out once the poll results were made public Tuesday.
“ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 Election,” wrote in a Tuesday morning tweet.
“One of the greatest and most powerful weapons used by the Fake and Corrupt News Media is the phony Polling Information they put out,” he said in a later tweet.
Trump said internal polling conducted by his campaign paints a different picture.
Democrats commissioned a poll that they claim tells much the same story – that in rural areas far from the anti-Trump bastions of the coastal cities, support for the president remains robust.
The American Federation of Teachers and One Country commissioned a Change Research survey that found the President’s approval rating is at 60% in rural areas of the Rust Belt and Great Plains.
Several of the states involved in the survey – like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – went red for the first time in several years in 2016 and are widely viewed as critical to Democratic prospects in 2020.
Along with the three Rust Belt states, the poll concentrated on non-metro communities in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia, and found voters in those regions approve of Trump’s performance as president.
Trump is most popular in North Dakota and Pennsylvania’s rural regions, with his favorability hovering at 60%. In Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump’s approval rating comes in at 51%.
But even in the rural regions covered by the poll Trump’s trade war is unpopular, with 36% saying it will hurt in the short-term and long-term. Another 39% said the trade war will hurt in the short-term but it’s ultimately worth it. Only 14% said the trade war will be immediately beneficial.
Many in the Democratic Party continue to worry the progressive issues disseminated on the campaign trail and at debates are oriented toward an upper-class urban and well-educated audience – one that lacks the electoral votes to unseat a widely unpopular president.
Some view the rural voters in the Midwest as a key to the White House and believe Democratic candidates should tack to appeal to those voters.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has consistently made the case that he is best positioned to win over that slice of the electorate. However, a new poll out of New Hampshire shows his once considerable lead has shrunk while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has gained steam.
The Emerson Poll found Biden and Warren in a statistical dead heat at 24% and 21%, respectively. The news is bad for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was leading in the same poll conducted in February.
“For Warren, only time will tell whether she is peaking this September or solidifying her base in the state,” said Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson Polling. “For Sanders, the question is whether his base of 18- to 29-year-olds is splintering away from him, or if this poll is an outlier.”
While Warren can revel in taking the second position, the poll also contained bad news for her: She was the only Democratic candidate to lose to Trump in a head-to-head matchup with the president.
Meanwhile, the respondents to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS continued the “six in ten” theme Tuesday: Six in ten of them said Trump does not deserve to be re-elected. The silver lining for the president here is that the share of registered voters who say he deserves to be re-elected has risen slightly in the last two years, from 35% in November 2017 to 39% now.
By way of comparison, 52% of Americans thought George W. Bush deserved to be re-elected at a similar stage of his presidency in October 2003. A December 2011 Gallup poll found 43% of registered voters thought Barack Obama deserved re-election.