President Trump is set to deliver his first State of the Union address with about 40 percent of the country approving of his job performance, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling average.
But a new state-by-state breakdown of Trump approval from Gallup shows the president’s party retains some advantages in this year’s midterm elections that could possibly be relevant to upcoming showdowns with the Democrats on spending and immigration.
Trump averaged 50 percent approval or better in only 12 states, but several of them have Democratic senators running for reelection this year. West Virginia is where Trump is most popular, with a 61 percent approval rating. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is seeking another term there this year.
The president’s next highest approval rating is 57 percent in North Dakota and Wyoming. Wyoming has a popular Republican incumbent in Sen. John Barrasso, but in North Dakota, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkampf will be on the ballot in November.
Trump is at 52 percent in Montana, where Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is up this year. Tester is the only Trump state Democrat who voted against ending the last government shutdown fight. Trump boasts a 50 percent approval rating in Tennessee, which Democrats view as a longshot pickup opportunity, with GOP Trump critic Sen. Bob Corker retiring. He’s roughly breaking even (47 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval) in Missouri, where Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is facing a tough reelection fight.
In all, Democrats are defending ten Senate seats in states Trump carried in 2016. But Trump is underwater in some of these states. His approval rating is just 45 percent in Ohio, 44 percent in Indiana (where Vice President Pence recently served as governor), 42 percent in Pennsylvania (where the main Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Lou Barletta, is trying to ride the president’s coattails), 41 percent in Wisconsin, 41 percent in Florida, and 40 percent in Michigan.
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were where Trump punctured the “blue wall” to beat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College and win the White House.
More troublingly for Republicans, Trump is at just 39 percent in Texas, a reliably Republican state Democrats have long dreamed of turning blue. Sen. Ted Cruz is seeking reelection there this year, with 54 percent disapproving of the president’s job performance.
It’s also worth noting that Republicans failed to retain a Senate seat in Alabama, where Trump still has a 53 percent approval rating (though Doug Jones did vote for the continuing resolution).
Still, Democrats in states where Trump remains popular could still flinch from an immigration-fueled government shutdown after Feb. 8. They still remain the most promising targets to get the votes Republicans need to break a Democratic filibuster over government funding and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
These are nevertheless not the most promising numbers for Trump as he gives his big speech and his party prepares to defend its congressional majorities this fall.