College Republicans pledge support to Trump, despite waning poll numbers

By Patrick Keck

2020 started strong for President Donald Trump, but it didn’t last. His national approval ratings peaked at 49 percent five times this year before the end of May, according to the Gallup poll. The positive trend came to an end with a ten percent drop to 39% in their latest measure in the beginning of June.

Real Clear Politics, compiling polling averages from the end of May through June 23 from  Reuters, CBS News and Politico, among others, found that nearly 70 percent of those surveyed believed the president had the country moving in the wrong direction.

Heading into an election year, Trump’s reelection chances have taken a hit due to the coronavirus, its subsequent economic fallout, and Black Lives Matter protests. Still, area supporters, like Taylor Armstrong, are pledging their support.

Armstrong, chairman of the Miami College Republicans, will vote for the first time in a presidential election this November and plans to back his party’s nominee.

A native of Urbana, Ohio, Armstrong said the 2016 election inspired him to follow a career in politics. While recognizing the current issues troubling Trump, he applauds his handling of them and trusts the president will be able to get the country out of them.

“With the pandemic, I feel the president has done as much as he can,” said Armstrong, a rising junior studying political science. “The record shows he took as much early action as could have with shutting down the border to China.”

While the U.S. has suffered over 120,000 deaths from the virus as of this week, Armstrong said the president struck a balance between listening to the experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, and acting within the confines of the Constitution.

According to the Butler County Board of Elections, the county went red in 2016 with more than  60 percent voting for Trump. This has been quite regular, as the Republican presidential candidates have carried the county for the past seven elections.

Oxford voters, however, generally go the opposite way of Butler County as a whole. The city remains a blue dot in the red county. Almost two-thirds of the 7,000-plus voters in Oxford supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. In this year’s primary election, the result was similar. Biden received 794 votes in Oxford’s 13 precincts while only 281 voted on the Republican side for the unopposed Trump.

Biden, the Democrats presumptive nominee, leads Trump in most recent polls nationwide, although the latest Ohio study conducted by Fox News suggests the lead is slim in the swing state. Trump won Ohio over Hillary Clinton last election, securing 18 electoral votes in the process.

The Fox poll, collecting responses between May 30 and June 2, found that 45% of the 803 surveyed voters in Ohio would support Biden compared to 43% who would back Trump.

Armstrong said the poll numbers do not worry him because they do not always represent the full picture. He remembered how he and many Americans believed Clinton would become the 45th President of the United States based on poll data.

“I tell people to use polls as a guide, but don’t take them as gospel,” said Armstrong. “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings on November election day.”

Those polled were split between Trump and Biden on the issues dominating the headlines, with more saying they trusted the president on the economy and immigration; but more believing in the former vice president in regards to the coronavirus and race relations.

Forty-six percent of Ohioans said they would trust Biden on matters related to race relations, a 13% lead over the president. With calls for police reform, Armstrong said it’s too early to tell what will happen, but said he believes it is an opportunity for Trump to show another side.

“People don’t realize that the president is pretty open to everything,” said Armstrong. “He’s a businessman, so he has to stay optimistic and open. In government, it’s the same way. You have got to be willing to open up a little.”

If Trump is re-elected, Armstrong said he would like to see him change his use of Twitter. While believing the public should not take his tweets as verbatim, he said his social media messages can confuse and detract from his true message.

“I hope he improves on the fact that he uses social media not as a diary, but more as to reach the people, the electorate, those that support him, and really any American,” said Armstrong. He said he believes many on both sides of the aisle agree with that.

Armstrong would like to see the president institute a national infrastructure plan, which he said he believes will create many jobs in a time where the unemployment rate is 13.3% at the end of May according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Armstrong’s belief that the U.S. will get back on its feet, stems from how the economy operated in the president’s first three years in office, a period where the country’s real GDP grew between 1.1% and 3.5% each quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“If he can do it in his first term, he can do it in his second term,” said Armstrong, who believes Trump’s economic policies are to help all Americans. “It’s an economy that allows people to ascend and that’s the great thing about our economy and our country.”