STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
How has the news of the past month affected the political support for President Trump? In a matter of weeks, the president has lost key advisors and has also become the central figure in a partial government shutdown. Now an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll has asked voters about the presidential campaign now beginning. NPR lead political editor Domenico Montanaro is with us. Domenico, good morning.
DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: What do the numbers say?
MONTANARO: Well, you know, the fact of the matter here is that, you know, the president's approval rating is slipping somewhat, and it's largely because of his base. There have been some cracks that we've seen. The president approval rating dropped slightly, from 42 to 39 percent. But among some of those key base numbers from last month, suburban men and white women without a college degree, they had approved of the job the president was doing. Now they don't. He's also down some with white evangelical Christians, suburban men and even slightly with Republicans, overall.
INSKEEP: Have people been thinking already about how they plan to vote in 2020?
MONTANARO: They certainly have been. And it's not great news for President Trump there, either. Fifty-seven percent of people say that they definitely would not vote for President Trump in 2020, which is - historically, those are terrible numbers. President Obama, at the same point, was at about 48 percent of people who said they definitely would not vote for him. That wound up being roughly about where President Obama wound up doing in the 2012 election. He wound up winning, of course. But about 47 percent of people didn't vote for him.
INSKEEP: I guess we should clarify here. Fifty-seven percent of people in this survey saying they'll definitely vote against President Trump. Sounds like the president's re-election prospects are toast. But, of course, the question is who actually shows up to vote in 2020, in what percentages do they show up to vote, do they really do what they say they're going to do? Nevertheless, it's pretty dire.
MONTANARO: Yeah. It's who winds up showing up, but also who he winds up running against. Because, you know, these elections, obviously, are choices. And, you know, it's one thing to say a generic Democrat could beat President Trump. It's another thing to say who that Democrat actually would be.
INSKEEP: So what is it that seems to be driving the president's support downward?
MONTANARO: Well, a big part of it, obviously, is the shutdown. You know, there's the longest-running shutdown that the country's ever seen. And just in the past month what we've seen is that people have changed somewhat dramatically in some cases, but also we see that people say - more than 60 percent of people say that they have a more negative view of the president than they did before this as the shutdown has continued. And, you know, that crosses over, not just with, you know, Democrats and independents, but there is a significant chunk of Republicans, about a quarter of Republicans, actually, who say they have a more negative view of the president now.
INSKEEP: And that's not far from the number of Republicans who haven't made up their mind that they'll definitely vote for this president again. There are some Republicans who are in that category right now.
MONTANARO: Yeah. You only have about 30 percent of people who say that they'll definitely vote for President Trump this time around. A president generally wants to try to be closer to 40 percent in that number and definitely below 50 percent in the people who say they definitely won't vote for him.
INSKEEP: Self-identified independents are not with the president much at all?
MONTANARO: No. Not at all. And in fact, this trend has continued from the 2018 elections, where independents have largely looked like Democrats, which is pretty unusual because independents are a group that generally have, over the last couple election cycles, anyway, trended Republican. You might remember Mitt Romney won independents in the 2012 presidential election and still lost.
INSKEEP: Domenico, thanks for the update. Really appreciate it.
MONTANARO: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro.