Here are the highlights of Public Policy Polling’s newest national poll.
The Republican Tax Plan
PPP’s newest national poll finds that six months after the passage of tax reform, it’s still not really catching on with voters. Only 31% support it to 38% who are opposed, with 30% not sure one way or the other.
The core problem for Republicans with tax reform is that voters continue to be skeptical it’s actually going to help them on a personal level. Just 30% say they think it will help their family’s finances, to 33% who think it will hurt, and 25% who don’t think it will have an impact either way. 51% think it will mostly benefit the rich to 30% for the middle class, and just 7% for the poor.
Tax reform is a piece of an overall issue for the GOP which is that most people still don’t feel their personal economic situation has improved under the Trump administration. 35% say they’re better off than they were a year ago but 26% say they’re worse off, and 37% say they’re in about the same place. Having investments in the stock market continues to be a big dividing line for whether people actually think they’re doing better or not- among those who do 43% say they’re better off and just 16% worse off. But among those who don’t only 27% say they’re better off to 35% who say they’re worse off.
The Battle for Congress
Democrats continue to have an advantage for this fall’s Congressional elections, leading the generic ballot 46-40. That lead grows to 52-43 among voters who say they’re ‘very excited’ to turn out this year. The brand of Congressional Republicans continues to be pretty abysmal. Only 20% of voters approve of the job Paul Ryan is doing, to 60% who disapprove. And he comes out looking popular compared to Mitch McConnell, who has just a 13% approval rating with 58% of voters disapproving of him. Overall Congress has a 6% approval rating.
Where Trump stands, currently and in historical context
Donald Trump continues to fare poorly, with 39% of voters approving of him to 54% who disapprove. We asked some questions putting Trump in recent historical perspective. 40% of voters say he’s the worst President of the last 40 years to 32% for Barack Obama, with no one else measuring in double digits. When it comes to the best President during that time period, Trump finishes third at 16% behind Obama’s 29% and Ronald Reagan’s 25%. Even among Trump voters 49% pick Reagan as the best President of the last four decades to 38% for Trump so it’s still Reagan’s party to some extent. 53% of voters wish Obama was still President to 41% who are glad Trump is in office.
Jeff Sessions and Scott Pruitt
Trump’s attacks on Jeff Sessions have turned the Republican base against Sessions. Overall only 15% of voters see Sessions favorably to 50% with a negative opinion of him. He’s viewed unfavorably by Trump (20/40) and Clinton (7/64) voters alike. In a somewhat remarkable development Trump voters (37/32) would like to see Sessions fired, while Clinton voters (27/44) are opposed to him losing his job. Overall voters are pretty closely divided with 31% wanting Sessions fired to 37% who support keeping him in his job.
Dividing lines are more predictable when it comes to Scott Pruitt. 41% of voters think he should be fired to 22% opposed, with Clinton voters (60/13) strongly for firing him and Trump voters (17/35) somewhat opposed. Just 12% of voters see Pruitt favorably to 37% who have a negative view of him.
‘Spygate’ and the Russia Investigation
One thing Trump has going for him is that his voters are lining up behind him on his ‘Spygate’ conspiracy theory. 71% of Trump voters think the FBI put a spy inside his campaign for President, to only 13% who don’t think that happened.
Public opinion on the Russia investigation continues to be pretty static, with Trump voters just wanting it to go away. 63% of them want Robert Mueller fired to end the investigation, compared to only 18% who are opposed to firing him. Overall though just 30% of voters think Mueller should be fired with 54% preferring to keep him on.
Last June we found 42% of voters thought the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and 42% didn’t. Now 45% think there was collusion and 43% think there wasn’t. Last June 37% of voters said the Russia story was ‘fake news,’ and 49% said it wasn’t. Now 39% say the story is ‘fake news,’ and 46% say it isn’t. Last June 36% of voters said Trump should continue as President even if collusion was proven, to 54% who said he should resign. Now 35% say Trump should continue as President even if collusion is proven, to 56% who say he should resign.
Basically nothing that’s happened in the last year has done much to move the needle on people’s feelings about the Russia investigation- with one exception. A year ago only 20% of voters claimed Russia wanted Hillary Clinton to win the election, to 57% who said it wanted Trump to win. But as Trump has pushed a narrative that Russia actually helped Clinton it’s gone up to 32% of voters saying Russia wanted Clinton to win the election to 51% for Trump, because a majority of Trump voters (54%) now say Russia wanted Clinton to win to 18% who grant that it wanted Trump to win.
Voters don’t think that Trump should or even can pardon himself. 20% think Trump has the right to pardon himself, to 65% who say he doesn’t. Trump voters (42/33) do narrowly think he’s allowed to self pardon, but Clinton voters (6/90) are almost unanimous in saying he can’t. Just 13% of voters think Trump should pardon himself with 69% saying he should not. Even his own voters (27/39) lean against a self pardon with Clinton voters (5/91) again pretty unanimous in saying he should not.
It continues to look like Trump will probably have an uphill path to reelection in 2020. He polls at either 39% or 40% in half a dozen match ups against possible Democratic candidates that we tested him in. The strongest polling Democrat is Joe Biden, who leads Trump 53-39. Bernie Sanders leads him 49-40, Elizabeth Warren leads him 48-40, Cory Booker leads him 47-39, Kirsten Gillibrand leads him 45-39, and Kamala Harris leads him 45-40.
One reason Trump may do so poorly in these match ups is that voters don’t think he’s fulfilled the core promise of his campaign to ‘Make America Great Again.’ Only 36% think he’s done that, to 58% who say he has not. Similarly only 36% of voters think Trump is honest to 57% who say he isn’t, and a 51% majority of voters outright say they think Trump is a liar to 39% who disagree with that characterization. And 57% of voters still think Trump should release his tax returns to 35% who say it’s not necessary.
The Trump Administration and the Media
The Trump administration continues to lose its never ending fight with the media. Last week Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed she has more credibility than the media but the public disagrees, saying by a 48/35 spread that the media has more credibility than she does. That’s a common theme when it comes to Trump’s various feuds with media. Voters say they trust CNN more than him 53/38, that they trust NBC, ABC, and CBS each more than him 53/39, that they trust the New York Times more than him 52/38, and that they trust the Washington Post more than him 51/38. Trump’s attempts to make the media his foil haven’t been as successful as they were with Hillary Clinton.
We continue to find that voters generally want stricter gun laws- 55% favor that approach to 34% who are opposed. When it comes to some specific measures there’s a broader consensus. Voters favor background checks for all gun buyers 86-6, and they support a ban on the sale of assault weapons 60-29. There’s also strong agreement- with only 26% of voters favoring the concept and 56% opposed to it- that giving teachers guns isn’t the solution to the problem. And there’s further agreement- with 69% of voters dismissing the theory to only 11% who believe it- that pornography is not causing school shootings.
The two most prominent groups in the current gun debate have strongly divergent images with the public. 54% of voters see the high school students leading gun protests across the country favorably, to 35% who have a negative opinion of them. By contrast only 39% of voters see the NRA favorably, to 45% who have a negative opinion of it.
–Associating themselves closely with Trump hasn’t done a lot for either Rudy Giuliani or Roseanne Barr’s image. Giuliani- once a well respected figure in American politics- is now seen positively by only 32% of voters to 48% who have a negative opinion of him. That puts him on only slightly better ground than Roseanne- not once a well respected figure in American politics- who has a 25/52 favorability spread.
-Americans are still pretty down with Canada. 66% of voters see the country favorably to 13% with a negative opinion of it. There is somewhat of a divide between Clinton voters (77/7) and Trump ones (54/19) when it comes to the country but at the end of the day they’re both pretty positive on Canada. Only 5% of voters think Canada should be punished for stuff that happened in the War of 1812 to 82% who are opposed.
-We polled on two great internet debates and settled one while another will rage on. When it comes to who the GOAT is there’s not a lot of division among Americans- 54% say it’s Michael Jordan to only 14% for LeBron James. Much divides us along party lines these days but the belief that Jordan is the greatest ever is one that brings us together as Democrats (60/17), Republicans (51/17), and independents (49/8) alike.
Polling on Laurel vs. Yanny brings no such clarity though. 21% say it’s Yanny, 20% say it’s Laurel…and 49% said they had no clue what we were asking about, perhaps a bit of a reality check on how tuned in most Americans are to the debates that consume people who spend all day on the internet.
Full results here