2016 Elections

Trump Can't Get Past the Door in Rust Belt Homes

A poll shows that majorities of voters in four states wouldn't want the Republican front-runner in their living rooms.

Adults only.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Donald Trump has a personal problem with voters that transcends policy differences, partisan affiliations and political concerns: They don't want him in their homes and aren't eager to have their kids exposed to him.

These are among the findings of an online poll of working-class voters in the Rust Belt. When asked which likely general election candidate would be a good role model for their children, these voters said they preferred Hillary Clinton, 39 percent to 14 percent. By a margin of more than 3-2 they said they would rather have her in their homes over Trump, according to the Purple Slice survey conducted by Purple Strategies for Bloomberg Politics.

The poll surveyed 803 voters in households with earnings between $30,000 and $75,000 in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Trump camp has predicted that he would do better than other Republican candidates with this demographic -- sometimes referred to as Reagan Democrats, though that's probably outdated.

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It's a constituency he needs -- President Barack Obama ran slightly ahead of Mitt Romney with these voters in 2012 -- and Trump is focusing his efforts in those four Rust Belt states. Overall, however, these voters said they would vote for Clinton, 46 percent to 39 percent.

"Much of the dislike toward Trump is rooted in concerns about his tone and behavior -- not just on policy differences," said Doug Usher, who conducted the poll for Purple Strategies. "As voters begin to envision the next president living in the White House and leading our country, these impressions matter."

These numbers reflect Trump's unpopularity rather than positive feelings about Clinton. For both candidates, unfavorable opinions exceeded favorable ones, though Trump's ratings were worse.

This survey underscores the presumptive Republican nominee's problems with women, in this case working class, or mainly middle class, voters in four strategically important states. Overall, he trailed Clinton with these female voters by 15 points.

By 44 percent to 10 percent, women said Clinton would be a better role model for their children. By almost as much they would prefer to have her as a guest in their house.

Often, though not always, Americans have voted for the presidential candidate who comes across as more personally appealing. Clinton doesn't meet that standard; it's just that Trump does worse.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net

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