Poll: Support for Trump steady in Warwick, surrounding towns

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – President Trump’s job approval rating in Kent County remains steady after three months in office, but voters there are divided on the wisdom of his policies, according to a newly released Brown University survey.

The poll of 555 registered Kent County voters found 43% think Trump is doing an excellent or good job as president, while 13% think he’s dong a fair job and 40% think he’s doing a poor job. The survey also showed that if the next election for Congress were held today, 42% of Kent County voters would vote for a Democrat, 37% would back a Republican and 21% aren’t sure.

“He’s neither growing nor diminishing his support,” Jim Morone, the Brown professor who oversaw the poll, said in an interview. “If you’re on the East Side of Providence you might think he’s falling apart and everybody hates him – not true. On the other hand, he’s not expanding his base at all.”

“It looks like if we reran the election tomorrow, the same thing would happen,” Morone said.

Kent County voters gave a mixed review to some of Trump’s policies in the poll. Half support his temporary ban on entering the United States for people from certain Middle Eastern countries, and 46% support building a wall on the Mexican border versus 44% who oppose doing so. On health care, only 36% favor repealing the Affordable Care Act – unless the wording of the poll question calls the law “Obamacare,” which causes a tie result at 41%.

“Trump’s support is not about public policy,” Morone argued. “I think it’s about who he is and what he stands for.”

The Kent County results were part of a unique new survey Brown conducted for the first time, testing Trump’s support as he approaches the 100-day mark among 2,812 voters in five representative regions of the country. The automated landline and cell-phone survey was conducted April 5 to 10 by RABA Research. The Rhode Island results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Kent is Rhode Island’s second-largest county and home to about 165,000 people. Half live in Warwick, the state’s second-largest city, with the rest in Coventry, West Warwick, East Greenwich and West Greenwich. Trump eked out a narrow victory there last fall, defeating Hillary Clinton by less than a percentage point – a big shift from 2012, when Barack Obama won Kent County by double-digits.

Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming characterized Kent County as generally a swing region in federal and statewide elections.

“It’s an independent type of area,” he said. “A city like Warwick can go either way in a lot of elections.” Warwick has a Republican mayor but many Democratic officeholders otherwise, he noted, and Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin represents the county in the U.S. House.

Kent County was chosen by Brown to represent working-class suburbs, while other regions were selected to represent wealthy first-ring suburbs (Colorado), the rural Midwest (Iowa), the diverse rural south (North and South Carolina) and upper-middle-class exurbs (Pennsylvania).

On other policy issues, 52% of Kent County voters oppose ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Asked whether the country should pull back on international trade agreements, 38% said yes, 33% said no and 29% said they weren’t sure, with slightly higher support when China was mentioned in the question’s wording.

The poll also found 37% of Kent County voters say they personally know someone who has been impacted by the opioid crisis; 24% have participated in the organized opposition to President Trump; 37% think he has ties to Russia that threaten American interests; and 30% believe Obama wiretapped Trump tower last year.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook