Good economic news doesn't appear to improve President Trump's ratings

March 15, 2017, 6:46 PM GMT+0

Almost half of Republicans unconvinced of a Trump re-election

Last Friday’s good economic report appears to have boosted economic optimism, but not necessarily optimism about President Trump and his Administration. Even though the Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that Americans like the revised ban on travel from six predominantly-Muslim countries, they see trouble ahead.

The President’s approval rating remains underwater. Just 41% approve of how he is handling his job, while 49% disapprove. And for the first time since he was inaugurated, one in five members of his own party disapproves of his job performance.

Of course, the vast majority of Republicans continue to approve of President Trump. But on a series of other questions, Republican support for the President has slipped from last week.

  • 42% of Republicans this week say President Trump cares “a lot” about their needs and problems, down 14 points from last week.
  • The percentage of Republicans saying President Trump has the right experience to be President dropped 15 points in the last week, from 72% to 57%; Republicans who say he has the right temperament is down 11 points from 66% last week to 55% now.

Among the entire public – Republican, Democrat and Independent combined -- majorities say the President lacks the right experience and the right temperament, and that he cares about their needs and problems little or not at all.

Americans do give the President positive ratings for his handling of the economy – and his approval rating on this (which already had been positive) rose in the last week: now 44% approve of how Donald Trump is handling the economy and only 35% disapprove. Since the Inauguration, expectations for the economy have improved (as a majority of Republicans have turned around their economic evaluation). One in three (32%) overall now say the economy is getting better, and only 17% think it is getting worse.

But for many, a good unemployment report isn’t enough. Some may not realize it is good. Only one in four say the jobless rate is under 5%, which is where it has remained for several months. Only one in three think it is the best measure of the state of the economy. Less than one in four think it does a good job explaining the health of the national economy. Two-thirds still say unemployment is a serious national problem (though under half say that it is a serious problem in their own communities). And more people give President Obama credit for the unemployment rate drop than credit the current White House occupant.

As for the revised travel ban, which temporarily bans entrance into the country from six nations but allows entry for those in the restricted countries with residential permits and existing visas, and suspends refugee entry for 120 days, Americans generally support it: 47% approve of the new order, 39% disapprove.

That was the good news.

This poll was conducted before the Congressional Budget Office released its rating of the Affordable Health Care Act. But even before the CBO estimate that as many as 24 million people could lose health care under the GOP plan, many people were critical. By 43% to 32%, the public opposed the changes.

Republicans support the plan, but only 18% of Republicans support it “strongly.”

It is possible that the President’s last week Twitter accusation that President Obama had wire tapped Trump Tower during the campaign overrides last Friday’s good economic news and the positive reaction to the new travel ban. By nearly three to one, the public says Trump’s use of Twitter is inappropriate.

Even more important, perhaps, is that one week ago Republicans narrowly called his Twitter use appropriate. This week, GOP identifiers have changed. By 42% to 38% they say his Twitter use is not appropriate.

Fewer people now say President Trump is honest and trustworthy than did last week. Just 29% now describe him as honest and trustworthy, down four points from a week ago.

Americans in this poll are looking ahead with concern. They are more pessimistic than optimistic about the next four years with Trump as President. Two in three (including a majority of Republicans) expect there will be at least one or two major scandals during the Trump Presidency, and most do not expect him to win re-election.

Though Republicans remain optimistic about the next four years, they are dubious about the possibility of a Trump victory in 2020. 41% of Republicans think it’s likely Trump will not win a second term, and only 35% disagree.

Since last fall, President Trump has claimed the public doesn’t care about his tax returns. Last night one year of his returns (2005) was leaked. Before that happened, Economist/YouGov poll respondents claimed they cared about the President’s taxes. Two-thirds said – as they have before in Economist/YouGov polls – that it is important for Presidents to release their tax returns; by more than two to one they say Trump should release his tax returns. Even a third of Republicans agree.