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Poll finds Trump standing weakened since springtime

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 7/16/2017 Scott Clement, Dan Balz
Donald Trump in the White House (24 March 2017) © AP Photo Donald Trump

President Trump’s standing with the American people has deteriorated since the spring, buffeted by perceptions of a decline in U.S. leadership abroad, a stalled presidential agenda at home and an unpopular Republican health-care bill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Approaching six months in office, Trump’s overall approval rating has dropped to 36 percent from 42 percent in April. His disapproval rating has risen five points to 58 percent. Overall, 48 percent say they “disapprove strongly” of Trump’s performance in office, a level never reached by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and reached only in the second term of George W. Bush in Post-ABC polling.

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Almost half of all Americans (48 percent) see the country’s leadership in the world as weaker since Trump was inaugurated, compared with 27 percent who say it is stronger. Despite the fact that Trump campaigned as someone skilled at making deals that would be good for the country, majorities also say they do not trust him in negotiations with foreign leaders and in particular Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Just over one-third of all Americans say they trust the president either “a great deal” or “a good amount” in any such foreign negotiations. Asked specifically about Trump-Putin negotiations, almost 2 in 3 say they do not trust the president much, including 48 percent who say they do not trust the president “at all.”

Perceptions about the role of Russia in the 2016 election and possible collusion or cooperation with Trump campaign associates continue to be a drag on the president, though like many other questions, results show a clear partisan divide.

The Post-ABC poll finds 60 percent of Americans think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, up slightly from 56 percent in April. Some 44 percent suspect Russian interference and think Trump benefited from their efforts. Roughly 4 in 10 believe members of Trump’s campaign intentionally aided Russian efforts to influence the election, though suspicions have changed little since the spring.

Americans’ views on Russia’s role in the election continue to divide along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 8 in 10 believe Russia attempted to influence the election and more than 6 in 10 think members of Trump’s team attempted to aid their efforts. But among Republicans, one-third think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, and fewer than 1 in 10 think Trump’s associates sought to help them.

Last week, information was revealed by the New York Times that Donald Trump Jr. and two other senior campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer and others after being offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton and told that the information was part of a Russian government effort to help Trump.

Asked about this revelation, more than 6 in 10 Americans say the meeting was inappropriate, with just about a quarter saying it was appropriate. But almost half of all Republicans call the meeting appropriate.

Suspicions of Trump have eased at least slightly on one front. While 52 percent think he is trying to interfere with investigations into Russia’s possible election interference, that is down slightly from 56 percent in June.

The president’s strongest assets continue to be the healthy economy and a view among many Americans that the Democrats do not have a coherent message or program in opposition, other than opposition to the president.

Trump’s approval rating on the economy, in contrast to his overall rating, is about one-to-one, with 43 percent giving him positive marks and 41 percent giving him negative ratings. Meanwhile, fewer than 4 in 10 say the Democratic Party currently stands for something, while a slight majority say it “just stands against Trump.”

Beyond those areas, Trump continues to be deeply unpopular. His standing is a mirror opposite of Obama and Bush at this point in their first terms. Each held a 59 percent job approval rating in Post-ABC polling. Trump’s standing is closer to that of Bill Clinton’s, who hit a record low 43 percent approval in late June 1993, before rebounding later that year.

Half of Americans say Trump is doing a worse job than most past presidents, while just under one-quarter say he is doing better, and a similar share say he is faring about the same as previous presidents. A 55 percent majority say Trump is not making significant progress toward his goals.

The survey points to many causes for Trump’s troubles. As Republican senators attempt to pass major health-care legislation, the poll finds about twice as many Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, to GOP plans for replacing it — 50 percent to 24 percent. About a quarter volunteer either “neither,” say they want something else or offer no opinion.

Independents are an important factor in the Republican law’s struggles. They favor Obamacare over the GOP replacement by a 29-point margin. Democrats are more strongly behind the current law, with 77 percent preferring Obamacare to the proposed alternative. Meanwhile, only 59 percent of Republicans back their party’s proposal, though only 11 percent say they prefer Obamacare. The remaining 30 percent of Republicans say they prefer neither, something else or give no opinion.

On one key issue in the debate over the Republican plan, the public by 63 to 27 percent says it is more important for the government to provide health coverage to low-income people rather than cutting taxes. Republican proposals include major reductions in spending increases for Medicaid, while eliminating many taxes and fees imposed by the 2010 Affordable Care Act to expand the program.

Whatever Trump’s struggles, the poll shows clear risks of Democrats’ opposition to Trump. Some 37 percent say the party currently stands for something, while 52 percent say it mainly stands against Trump. Even among Democrats, over one-quarter say their party primarily stands in opposition to Trump rather than for their own agenda.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted July 10-13 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults reached on cellular and landline phones. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

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