Aaron Schwartz via shutterstock
President Donald Trump (Aaron Schwartz via shutterstock)

HAMDEN, CT – President Donald Trump is leading his Democratic challengers in Wisconsin, but he trails within the margin of error in Pennsylvania, and is locked in close races in Michigan, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The three states are considered part of the “Rust Belt” which is an informal term for a region in the Midwest and Great Lakes area that has experienced varying periods of industrial decline in recent decades.

Among registered voters in Wisconsin, Trump leads the Democratic candidates by between 7 and 11 percentage points in head-to-head election matchups:

Trump tops Senator Amy Klobuchar 50 – 39%;
Trump leads Senator Elizabeth Warren 51 – 41%;
Trump beats former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg 49 – 41%;
Trump tops former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg 49 – 41%;
Trump defeats Senator Bernie Sanders 50 – 43%;
Trump is ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden 49 – 42%.

In Pennsylvania, the picture is nearly reversed.

Among registered voters in Pennsylvania, Trump trails Biden, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg by 6 to 8 percentage points in head-to-head matchups, while Sanders, Buttigieg, and Warren are in tight races with the president:

Biden is ahead of Trump 50 – 42%;
Klobuchar leads Trump 49 – 42%;
Bloomberg leads Trump 48 – 42%;
Sanders has 48% and Trump gets 44%;
Buttigieg receives 47% and Trump has 43%;
Warren gets 47% to Trump’s 44%.

Among registered voters in Michigan, the Democratic candidates range from narrowly ahead to essentially tied with Trump in head to head election matchups:

Sanders narrowly tops Trump 48 – 43%;
Bloomberg has a slight lead over Trump 47 – 42%;
Biden has 47% and Trump gets 43%;
Warren gets 45%, while Trump receives 43%;
Buttigieg gets 45% and Trump has 44%;
Klobuchar receives 45% to Trump’s 44%.

“Three different states, three different scenarios, one constant – the economy. It’s a top issue for voters, and it’s giving President Trump a strong tailwind,” Quinnipiac voting analyst Mary Snow said. “Wisconsin voters give him a job approval rating above 50 percent, higher than what he receives nationally and in Pennsylvania and Michigan. These Wisconsin numbers are a red warning sign for Democrats that rebuilding the ‘blue wall’ in 2020 may not be so easy. But it’s a long way to November,” said Snow.

When it comes to how voters view the job Trump is doing, the president scores his highest job approval rating among voters in Wisconsin, 51 – 46%. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, his job approval is underwater as more voters disapprove than approve of the job he’s doing. In Michigan, voters disapprove 54 – 42%. In Pennsylvania, voters disapprove 52 – 44%.

The Quinnipiac poll also asked voters in the three states on his handling of the economy — and he received good grades.

Wisconsin voters approve 59 – 38% of Trump’s handling of the economy, Pennsylvania voters approve 57 – 41% , and Michigan voters approve 52 – 44%.

They also graded him on favorability. Trump has a split favorability rating in Wisconsin with 50% of voters saying they have a favorable opinion of him, while 47% say they have an unfavorable opinion of him. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, the president is negatively viewed by more than half of registered voters.

On the other side, the Democratic presidential candidates are mostly negatively viewed by voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

People polled in the three states list the following as the most important issue:

Wisconsin: 31% say economy, 27% say health care, 12% say climate change;

Pennsylvania: 29% say economy, 26% say health care, 13% say climate change;

Michigan: 35% say economy, 24% say health care, 12% say climate change.

When broken down by political party, however, there are differences in the top three issues in each state.

“The issues voters choose as their most important show a big divide,” Snow said. “Voters citing the economy as the number one issue are voting overwhelmingly for President Trump. But the exact opposite is true for voters who say health care or climate change are their top issues, who are voting overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.”

“Between President Trump and the Democratic presidential candidates, voters aren’t showing much enthusiasm about any candidate. Getting a split favorability rating is the high water mark,” added Snow.

The poll was conducted before Tuesday night’s contentious Democratic presidential debate in Nevada.

This is the first swing state poll of the 2020 presidential election cycle from Quinnipiac University that includes separate polls conducted simultaneously in key swing states. The poll was conducted from February 12 – 18.

Each poll had a 3.4% margin of error.