Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now viewed more positively than negatively
Donald Trump’s approval rating in Economist/YouGov polls has been hovering just below 40% since the summer. This week marks the latest low for this President: just 36% approve. More than half do not.
More than twice as many say they “strongly disapprove” (42%) as “strongly approve” (19%).
The President continues to receive support from his party’s rank and file – 81% of Republicans approve, while 16% do not. And just over half of Republicans approve strongly.
Last week, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, suggested that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate our country from chaos.” In this week’s poll, all three men are seen favorably by the public.
Kelly and Mattis have generally received positive marks from Americans, but Tillerson has not. Until this week, his unfavorable ratings matched his favorable ones. But the President’s attacks appear to have improved public perceptions of the Secretary of State. This week, the public overall sees Tillerson favorably.
In addition, the President’s attacks haven’t affected how Republicans rate the three advisors. More than half of Republicans have favorable assessments of each man, while fewer than one in ten hold unfavorable opinions of each.
Relatively few – just 15% – believe President Trump follows his advisors’ advice. A majority thinks he doesn’t listen to them. Republicans are divided 37% to 31% on this.
The President’s tweet attacks on Corker are among the most negatively rated of the more than 1,300 tweets YouGov has asked Americans to evaluate since early February. Republicans, independents, and the public overall rank those tweets in the bottom 1%.
Two other very prominent advisors to the President – his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner – do not reach the same level of public support as Tillerson, Mattis, and Kelly. Only 38% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the President’s daughter, her lowest percentage this year. Kushner received mixed reviews earlier in the administration, but now opinion is clearly negative.
51% of Republicans view Kushner positively, but that is lower than GOP favorable ratings for Tillerson, Mattis, or Kelly. Nearly eight in ten Republicans like the First Daughter.
Kushner and Ivanka are now under scrutiny for their use of private email accounts while working in government – similar to the email usage for which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was criticized during the 2016 campaign. Just as the reaction to Clinton’s use of email reflected partisanship, so does the public response to the findings about Kushner and Trump. In both cases, there is agreement overall that the issue is serious, and many question the legality of the behavior.
By the time of the 2016 election, nearly the entire public (92%) knew about Clinton’s use of email. As of this weekend, less than two-thirds know about the Kushner and Ivanka’s use. In 2016, Republicans had heard more than Democrats about Clinton’s emails, while today Democrats have heard more than Republicans about the controversy. A majority see the current issue as a serious problem, though partisans reverse their positions, depending on the person or persons involved.
By 45% to 28%, Americans would like to see a Congressional investigation of the Kushner and Ivanka email use. In 2016, by 51% to 38%, the public also wanted an investigation of Clinton’s emails. But who exactly wants an investigation has changed. In 2016, 89% of Republicans wanted a Congressional investigation of Clinton’s email use; just 22% think the new situation should be investigated. Only one in five Democrats wanted Clinton investigated a year ago; three in four want a Congressional investigation today.
Read more results from this week's Economist/YouGov poll here