Monmouth University National Poll: Trump Job Approval Rating Steady at 39%

Arango and Trump

President Donald J. Trump’s job approval rating stands at a net negative 39% approve and 52% disapprove, according to this afternoon’s Monmouth University Poll. The poll shows no negative impact from revelations earlier this month that family members and campaign aids met with Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign. The poll’s numbers reflect nearly identically the President’s 39%-53% rating in May. About one-third (32%) of the public says Trump’s agenda so far has focused a lot on issues that are important to average Americans, another 31% say he has focused a little on these issues and 35% say he has not focused at all on issues important to average Americans.  These results are also largely unchanged from two months ago.

“Donald Trump’s job rating has basically held steady amid another round of supposedly damaging news. Most Americans disapprove of his son and other advisers meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, but that hasn’t really moved the needle on any other public opinion metric related to the president,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

More than three-quarters (80%) of the public have heard last week’s news about the 2016 meeting between Trump campaign advisers, including First Son Donald J. Trump, and a Russian lawyer. Most Americans (59%) say the meeting was not appropriate, while just 31% say it was appropriate.

Most say that the Trump team went into the meeting expecting to obtain negative information on Hillary Clinton – 50% say this was the main purpose for the meeting and another 6% volunteer that this was one of the reasons for the meeting. One-third (33%) believe the meeting was for some other reason. Among those who believe the Trump team walked into the meeting expecting to get dirt on Clinton, 21% say attending was appropriate and 76% say it was not appropriate. Among those who say the Trump team believed the meeting was for another reason altogether, 49% say having the meeting was appropriate while 40% still say it was inappropriate to meet with the Russians during the campaign.

The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is now an unpaid White House adviser with access to classified information, was also at that 2016 meeting, reports say. The public is divided on whether Kushner should be made to resign (39%), lose his security clearance but keep his position (22%), or be able to continue in his current role with no change to his clearance (31%).

Nearly two-thirds of the public say the Russian government either definitely (36%) or probably (29%) tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Just over 1-in-4 say the Russians probably (18%) or definitely (10%) did not interfere. Given the premise that Russia did in fact try to interfere in the election, most believe this caused either a lot (47%) or a little (21%) damage to American democracy. Another 28%, on the other hand, believe that Russian interference did no damage to American democracy. This opinion is driven by a huge partisan divide. Specifically, 60% of Republicans believe that Russian interference in the election caused no damage at all to American democracy while only 28% of independents and 6% of Democrats feel the same.

“We’d like to believe that concerns about external interference in our democratic processes would unite Americans regardless of ideology. But in an era of partisan tribalism, it looks like short-term political ends justify the means,” said Murray.

A majority (54%) of Americans express concerns that Trump may be too friendly toward Russia. This level of concern has been creeping up from 45% during the 2016 campaign to 48% in the first months of Trump’s presidency, and 51% two months ago when Trump fired former FBI director James Comey. A similar majority (55%) of the public is concerned that other members of the Trump administration may be too friendly toward Russia. This number is up slightly from 49% in May. The public is divided on whether the President pressed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, about that government’s interference in the U.S. election when the two met in person earlier this month. Just under half – 46% – say it is either very likely (20%) or somewhat likely (26%) that Trump did this, while a similar number – 48% – say it is not too likely (22%) or not at all likely (26%).

The public continues to be split on whether Trump’s attitude toward Russia does (48%) or does not (48%) present a national security threat to the United States. This opinion is nearly identical to the May poll results, when 48% said Trump’s position toward Russia poses a security risk and 46% said it does not.

Over 6-in-10 (62%) Americans say the special counsel investigation into Russian interference should continue while 33% say it should be brought to an end. Two months ago, 73% supported continuing the related FBI investigation into Russia – before the special counsel was appointed – and 24% wanted it to end.

Currently, 41% of the public think that Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency, while 53% disagree. The Monmouth University Poll asked the same question used by the Gallup Poll during Nixon’s presidency. In July 1973 as the Watergate scandal started to unfold, just 24% of the public supported impeachment and 62% were opposed. Support for Nixon’s impeachment was significantly lower six months into his second term as president than it is for the incumbent today. Interestingly, Nixon’s job rating at that point in his tenure – 39% approve and 49% disapprove – was about the same as Trump’s current rating.

“Even though Trump’s approval rating is similar to Nixon’s, more Americans support impeachment today than did in 1973. That’s partly due to the current epidemic of hyper-partisanship that was simply not prevalent forty years ago,” said Murray. [Note: the 1973 Gallup dataset was obtained from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archives.]

Just 34% of Democrats supported impeaching Nixon in the summer of 1973, compared to 70% of Democrats who support impeaching Trump today. There are much smaller differences in support for impeachment of the two presidents among independents (22% for Nixon and 32% for Trump) and Republicans (7% for Nixon and 12% for Trump). Another difference in the two polls that underlines today’s partisan tribalism is that Nixon had a higher approval rating than Trump among Democrats (24% versus 7% for Trump) and a lower approval rating than Trump among his fellow Republicans (67% versus 79% for Trump). Approval among independents was the same for Nixon in 1973 (41%) as it is for Trump today (41%).

Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted the poll by telephone from July 13 to 16, 2017 with 800 adults in the United States.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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