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Trump's Stalwart Geopolitical Regions Are Religious, Rural

Trump's Stalwart Geopolitical Regions Are Religious, Rural

by Dante Chinni
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Job approval is net positive in four of 13 county types
  • Rural counties support Trump, urban counties are strongly opposed
  • Key Republican-leaning county types disapprove of Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's base of support is currently centered in the evangelical South and rural counties scattered throughout Appalachia and the Midwest, according to June Gallup data analyzed using geopolitical categories developed by the American Communities Project (ACP) at George Washington University.


In most other types of counties across the U.S., Trump's job approval is net negative, with the strongest pockets of disapproval coming from the nation's biggest cities and the dense urban suburbs around them.

While poll data consistently show the president earning well-short of majority job approval nationally, the community-level picture is more nuanced. Trump faces stiff opposition in some places, but in others he continues to be evaluated more positively than negatively.

The list has a fairly clear demographic underpinning.

The counties that support Trump are numerically extensive, but tend to be much more rural. Taken together, the 1,349 counties that make up his strongest base of support -- Rural Middle America, Evangelical Hubs, Working Class Country and LDS Enclaves -- are home to about 35 million potential voters. By themselves, the 47 Big Cities counties hold about 59 million.

Trump's base counties also tend to have median household incomes below the national figure of about $56,000.

The counties in which Trump faces his strongest opposition are generally the most densely populated places in the country, including the Big Cities and Urban Suburbs. These counties, along with the College Towns, also have proportionately more college graduates.

Overall, Trump has seen support slide slightly since the 100-day mark, with his national approval rating falling from an average 41% in the first 100 days to 38% in the month of June. However that data from the first 100 days of his presidency -- from Jan. 20 through April 23 -- showed him earning net-positive reviews in eight county types in the ACP: the four types in the June poll, plus the Exurbs, Middle Suburbs, Military Posts and Graying America.

Trump Approval Now Net-Negative in Four Community Types That Were Previously Net-Positive
President Donald Trump's net job approval among American Communities Project groups (% approve minus % disapprove)
First 100 days June 2017
Evangelical Hubs +32 +20
Working Class Country +33 +13
Rural Middle America +13 +5
LDS Enclaves^ +12 +4
Graying America +10 -2
Military Posts +9 -4
Middle Suburbs +1 -8
Exurbs +5 -9
African-American South -5 -16
College Towns -15 -20
Hispanic Centers -14 -25
Urban Suburbs -26 -31
Big Cities -37 -43
^ Latter-day Saints (Mormon) Enclaves; First 100 days based on Jan 20-Apr 23, 2017.
Gallup Daily

Trump's slip in those four county types may prove to be significant. They hold distinct parts of the Republican base.

  • The Exurbs have higher incomes and more college degrees than the national average and than other GOP communities. They are somewhat representative of the Republicans' establishment core.
  • The Middle Suburbs are a set of blue-collar counties based primarily in the Industrial Midwest that swung heavily to Trump in November. The president won them by more than 13 percentage points after Republican Mitt Romney won them by two points in 2012.
  • The Military Posts, based primarily near armed forces installations, are reliably Republican and tend to be home to "national security" voters.
  • Graying America, counties with lower incomes and large 50-years-or-older populations, consistently vote Republican and are scattered in rural areas across the country.

Trump won the vote in all those county types in November by double digits and, because they are home to 58 million adults, they would likely be key to his re-election hopes.

Gallup's June numbers filtered through the ACP county types also suggest that Trump has lost at least some ground in nearly every type of community since May. Most of these changes were small, however, given the two-point decline in his approval rating among all Americans between May (40%) and June (38%).

Bottom Line

The June numbers indicate that the negative turn in Trump's monthly job approval averages since his inauguration are broad-based, affecting all ACP county types. As a result, he has now fallen below majority approval in some areas that were key to his election. This could affect his viability in 2020 as well as his ability to govern, particularly if it intensifies.

Survey Methods

The latest monthly results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-30, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 15,252 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The sample size in each community group ranges from 3,348 in the Big Cities and 3,197 in Urban Suburbs down to 239 in LDS Enclaves. Aging Farmlands and Native American Lands were not reviewed for this analysis of June data because of low sample size.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. For most community groups, the margin of sampling error is no more than ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For Working Class Country and Hispanic Centers the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level and for LDS Enclaves it is ±8 percentage points. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

A map of all 15 ACP types is available here.


Dante Chinni is a Gallup Research Adviser and Guest Contributor.

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