AJC poll: Trump’s approval ratings in Georgia erode

See how the opinions fell on this years first AJC legislative poll.

President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have crumbled in Georgia over his first year in the White House, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll released Friday that shows nearly six in 10 registered voters disapprove of his performance.

The poll, conducted by the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs, pegs the president's approval rating at 36.7 percent and his disapproval rating at 58.7 percent. That's a decline from an AJC poll conducted in January 2017 shortly before he took office with more evenly divided results.

Trump’s ratings in the poll are generally worse than what national polls have shown, and they deviate sharply from the results of the 2016 presidential election, when Trump won Georgia by 5 points.

The AJC survey of 940 voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 points, was conducted before Trump criticized immigrants from "shithole" countries, but several conservative-leaning respondents interviewed by the AJC said those types of remarks highlighted their concerns about him.

“Whoever hears of someone talking this way?” asked Stuart Siegel, a 74-year-old Sandy Springs retiree.

“I was a Republican until this last election, but I’m becoming more of an independent,” he added. “I’ve seen some of the good things he’s done — like lowering the corporate taxes — but I don’t like him personally. Not at all. I don’t think he has the stature of a president.”

Other supporters of the president pointed to what they saw as his accomplishments — a growing economy, a better business climate and the package of $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that Trump signed into law in December.

“The country is moving in the right direction. The tax cuts are a big step in the right direction. The economy is doing much better,” said Janice Ransbotham, a 70-year-old retiree from west Cobb County. “There are a lot of things I see are changing for the better.”

The AJC poll showed Trump’s strongest base of support in Georgia was among voters in North Georgia and among those who describe themselves as conservative or very conservative. About 85 percent of voters who cast ballots for him in 2016 said they approve of his first year in office.

He faces a solid block of opposition among Democrats — 97 percent disapprove of him — along with nearly 70 percent of voters who described themselves as moderates. The gender gap was stark: About 44 percent of men approved of him and less than one-third of women did.

The president’s approval ratings largely mirror the pessimistic view Georgians have over the direction of the country, according to the poll. About 40 percent described themselves as very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today, while 57 percent took the opposing view. Of those, 28 percent were very dissatisfied.

“I think he’s a disgrace to the presidency. I’m so disgraced, ashamed and embarrassed,” said Vicky Green, 54, who owns a commercial cleaning service. “With all the money he’s got, he’s never spent it on class. He doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.”

Those who said the country was on the right track credited Trump for changes that broke the status quo. Bill Ashey, a 64-year-old retiree in Duluth, said immigration was one of the top factors in his decision to vote. And Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, sharp words or not, have him hopeful about the nation’s future.

“Immigration was out of control in the last few years,” Ashey said. “We had people crossing the border and it was out of control. And I think it’s got back to what it should be. I don’t believe in people breaking the law.”

The AJC poll shows Trump’s approval rating in the state is even worse than the national average of polls monitored by Real Clear Politics, where 39.4 percent approve of the president’s performance, compared with 56.4 percent who disapprove.

Georgia voters had sunnier views of Gov. Nathan Deal, who is in his final year of his second term. A majority of voters — 52.8 percent — gave him favorable approval ratings, and less than one-quarter said they disapproved of the Republican. And nearly 64 percent of voters are satisfied with the direction of the state; only 8.1 percent said they were very dissatisfied.

Shantae Martin, a 29-year-old logistics specialist from Lithonia, illustrates that federal-state divide. She said she’s furious with politics in Washington and accused politicians of following “their own objectives instead of the big picture.

“They are too close to the trees to see the forest,” she said. “When you’re that high up in office, you forget about the people.”

But of Georgia politicians, she was generally positive.

“They’re trying to bring jobs back to Georgia,” she said. “They have our interests at heart.”

About the poll

This poll was conducted Jan. 3-5 and Jan. 7-10 and included a total of 940 registered voters residing in Georgia. The survey was administered by the School of Public and International Affairs Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia. Interviews were conducted in English. A statewide random sample consisting of approximately 65 percent cellphone numbers and 35 percent landline numbers was obtained through Revily, a sampling vendor that maintains a database constructed from state voter registration lists. Through commercial sources, phone numbers have been appended to the individual records (registrants) that make up these lists. The survey results were weighted to ensure the sample was representative of the population of Georgia registrants in terms of race, sex and age. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.