Americans see decision making in the White House as impulsive

March 07, 2018, 7:30 PM GMT+0

Nearly half of Americans think the President ignores his advisers’ guidance

Americans don't find a lot of careful thought in the President's decision-making process, at least when it comes to his public statements, and there has been little, if any, improvement in this perception since last July. The latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds a majority of Americans – Republicans and Democrats alike – believing that Donald Trump speaks without thinking most of the time, often doesn't listen to his advisers, and, at least some of the time, says things that are incorrect.

In the last week, the President has changed his public stance on gun control and the National Rifle Association, and has surprised GOP Congressional allies with his proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He also lost his communications director, one of his longest-serving staff members. Public questioning of the President's decision-making comes at a time when public opinions of his advisers – even some relatives – have declined since the start of his term.

Perhaps the three most damaging findings in this week's poll are the 81% who say that President speaks and reacts without thinking, the plurality that says he ignores his advisers guidance, and the majority that believes he sometimes says incorrect things (with nearly half believing he does this often). While Republicans are more kind in their assessment of how often they think the President listens to his advisors, they also see him as not considering what he says carefully, and many sees errors in some of his statements.

Democrats are quick to blame the President for deliberately misspeaking; Republicans say the errors are inadvertent. And on all these questions, there has been little change in months.

Hope Hicks, the fourth communications director in the Trump Administration's first year, admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes had to tell "white lies" in her job. That is behavior the public finds inappropriate. As one might expect, Democrats are especially critical, but nearly half of Republicans agree her saying she told "white lies" was inappropriate. Where Republicans draw the line, however, is whether Hicks "lied about substantive issues on behalf of President Trump." Twice as many Republicans say she did not as think she did, but more than a third say they aren't sure what she did.

The last week found two of the President's most trusted advisers, his daughter and his son-in-law, slipping in public confidence. When Donald Trump's term began, Ivanka Trump was viewed favorably by the public. Now, opinion is closely divided. As for her husband, Jared Kushner, he began 2017 with Americans divided in their opinion of him, but now evaluations of Kushner are decidedly negative.

Kushner's lost his top secret security clearance last week, and the public isn't sure he can do his job without it. Just 22% think he can, 40% think he can’t. Even some Republicans question his ability to work without a clearance. 36% of Republicans think he can still do his job, but 23% think he cannot. Kushner also faces questions about loans that his family real estate business received after White House meetings with lenders. By six to one, Democrats believe that the loans were made because of Kushner's position in the government. Republicans are far less sure – 21% of Republicans say they were, 32% disagree.

In general, Republicans claim a greater interest in politics than Democrats do, at least at this time of GOP control of both the Presidency and Congress. 51% of Republicans say they follow what's going on in public affairs and government "most of the time," compared with 44% of Democrats.

But when it comes to paying attention to this Administration's problems, Democrats are far more attentive. 31% of Democrats but just 11% of Republicans say they have heard "a lot" about the Kushner loans story. On another issue – the $31,000 dining set that was to have been purchased for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson – 30% of Democrats say they have heard a lot, while only 10% of Republicans said the same.

The President maintains his approval rating level at 40% this week. Half the public disapproves of how he is doing his job. Republicans continue to be supportive: 80% of them approve of the President's job performance.

But Democrats have become a little more hopeful than they were a year ago that they can take back control of the House and Senate this fall. 70% of Democrats think they can take back the House, 71% that they can control the Senate. Overall, in fact, Americans are more likely now to say Democratic victories in the fall are probable.

52% overall think the President is not likely to win in 2020, but 60% of Republicans disagree. And two in three Republicans want the President to run again.

Read the latest topline and table results here

Photo: Getty