NBC News poll of the South: Voters' support for Trump grows, residents see race relations improving

President Donald Trump takes the podium before speaking during a Keep Ameri
President Donald Trump takes the podium before speaking during a Keep America Great rally on July 17, 2019, in Greenville, North Carolina. Copyright Zach Gibson Getty Images
Copyright Zach Gibson Getty Images
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
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The survey also measured support for Democratic presidential candidates.


President Donald Trump's approval ratings in the South have ticked upward, with 54 percent of voters giving a thumbs-up to the way he's handling his job, according to a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey online poll.

The survey of voters in 11 southern states found 38 percent said they "strongly approve" of the way Trump's handling his job, and 16 percent who said they "somewhat approve." That's up slightly from a poll in September of last year, which put his total approval at 52 percent.

Those numbers are higher than his national approval rating, which NBC News reported Friday had risen to 48 percent.

The approval ratings swung wildly in some individual states in the polling. Trump has a 60 percent approval rating in Alabama, but just 48 percent approval in neighboring Georgia, the polls showed.

The polling was conducted between July 2 and July 16, so much of it was completed before Trump's tweets on July 14 calling for four Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." The error estimate for registered voters is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

The survey also found slightly more support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the South than the rest of the country. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats said if the primary or caucus was being held in their state today, they'd vote for Biden vs. 25 percent nationwide.

The second most popular candidates were Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both had 14 percent of respondents say they'd vote for them. Thirteen percent said they'd vote for Sen. Kamala Harris, and 8 percent said they'd vote for former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Southerners said they were happy with the current state of the economy, with 72 percent of respondents saying the national economy is "very good" or "fairly good."

More Southerners also said they think race relations in their states are improving. Twenty percent said they're getting better, compared to 14 percent in September. The number of people who said relations are getting worse dropped significantly, from 44 percent in September to 34 percent in the current poll. A plurality of respondents, 44 percent, said they're "about the same."

Fifty-one percent of voters in Mississippi, where earlier this year Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a bill prohibiting abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, said they'd like to see the Supreme Court overturn its decision in Roe v. Wade. Forty-six percent of respondents said they'd like the 1973 ruling, which established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, to stand.

The numbers were the exact opposite in Alabama, where Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most stringent abortion ban in the country in May. Fifty-one percent of voters there said Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, while 46 percent said it should.

In Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that was similar to Mississippi's in May, 59 percent of respondents said the ruling should stand, while 37 percent said it should be overturned.

More poll data is here: Alabama; Georgia; Mississippi; Tennessee; and nationwide.

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey polls were conducted online among a regional sample of 4,869 adults ages 18 and over, including 4,203 who say they are registered to vote. The Southern region includes those who live in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas or Virginia. The poll was conducted from July 2 to July 16. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.

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