Filed Under:  National

Disabled Americans disapprove of Trump presidency, poll shows

26th February 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Ryan Whirty
Contributing Writer

A new national poll of the American disability community reveals that Americans with disabilities disapprove of President Trump’s presidency in growing numbers, and that those impacted by disability issues – especially disabled voters themselves – are undergoing a significant swing away from Republican politicians and toward Democrats.

The national phone survey of 1,000 people was conducted Jan. 6-11 on behalf of RespectAbility, a non-profit, non-partisan organization aimed at strengthening American communities through the shared values of diversity and mutual respect. Both land-line phone numbers and cell phone numbers were used.

Fully 63 percent of the American population is part of the extended disability community – those with disabilities themselves, those with a family member or close friend of someone with a disability, or those who work or volunteer with people with disabilities.

According to a RespectAbility press release, people with disabilities make up 17 percent of the American population, and are nine percent more likely than those outside the extended disability community to be extremely interested in voting in the 2018 election cycle.

On Feb. 20, nationally-renowned pollster, bestselling author and polling consultant Dr. Stanley Greenberg participated in a webinar and teleconference through RespectAbility to discuss the results of the poll. His firm, Greenberg Research, and the Democracy Corps helped conduct the survey, which carries a margin of +/-3.1 percentage points at a confidence level of 95 percent.

Greenberg said the disability community, while very diverse in terms of political beliefs and leanings, plays an increasingly significant role in American elections and politics.

“It’s important for everyone to recognize that there is a disability community and that it has strong views that are impacted by current events,” he said.

He added, “It’s important to understand the scale of this and understand the reasons why [the disabled] have these views and why their needs should be important to all political leaders and opinion formers.”

According to the poll results, 56 percent of voters with disabilities disapprove of President Trump’s performance, while 54 percent of those in the entire extended disability community disapprove of the presidency. Those figures are slightly higher than the president’s approval rate with those outside of the disability community (52 percent).

Accordingly, 58 percent of disabled voters believe the country is on the “wrong track,” compared to 55 percent of the extended disability community and 56 percent outside the community.

In addition, 53 percent of the disabled are leaning Democratic in the upcoming 2018 Congressional elections, with 37 percent leaning Republican. That compares to the ratios for the extended disability community (50 percent Democratic, 39 percent Republican) and outside the community (48 percent Democratic, 36 percent GOP).

Such data represents a major swing in partisan support on the part of the extended disability community. In the 2014 Congressional elections, only 44 percent of the disability community voted Democratic, compared to 55 percent Republican. Two years later, the disability community voted 50/48 in favor of the Democrats in the 2016 Congressional elections.

“That’s a pretty striking shift,” Greenberg said. “It suggests there’s something going on that is affecting their orientation in politics,” he added.

The poll also revealed strong support in the disability community for the Affordable Care Act and disapproval of the recently passed tax reform act. In general, the poll showed tentative support for the NRA, strong support for unions, warming support of gay marriage, but general disapproval of pro-life groups.

In addition, three-fourths of disabled voters were shown to be working-class – 39 percent possessed a high school education, and 36 percent had some college experience but did not graduate.

In terms of the labor force, people with disabilities were significantly more likely to be out of work compared to voters without disabilities – 54 percent of those without disabilities are employed full time, compared to just 22 percent of disabled voters.

As a result, Greenberg said, unemployment remains a critical issue for the disabled community. “We’re dealing with working-class people, for the most part,” he said, “many of whom are not retired and want to work.”

Finally, Greenberg said disabled voters and the disability community reflect strongly-held communal values, as revealed by the poll numbers – values that could very well inform their political leanings.

“They are very focused on family, and being loyal to family, keeping promises and fulfilling your duty,” he said. “We can clearly see why this community would value these values, and that may well affect the way they’re responding on a whole range of institutions and what’s happening in the country.”

This article originally published in the February 26, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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