Americans are becoming more critical of the President's social media use

March 21, 2018, 5:15 PM GMT+0

Less than half of Republicans now find Trump’s Twitter usage appropriate

Americans are feeling more negative than usual about the President’s use of Twitter – and even Republicans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll are divided on whether or not the President uses Twitter appropriately. Feelings seem to have been exacerbated after President Trump used a tweet to inform Secretary of State Rex Tillerson he would be replaced by current Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo.

The percentage of Republicans saying the President’s twitter use was “appropriate” dropped ten points in the last week. Overall assessment dropped six points in that period.

The actual tweet, when evaluated by the YouGov Tweetindex the day after the President sent it, received typically poor grades from Democrats and reasonably good ones from Republicans, with independents tilting slightly negative. [The tweet itself also congratulated Pompeo and Gina Haskel, whom the President named to be Pompeo’s replacement at the CIA.] However, when asked directly in the weekend Economist/YouGov Poll about the firing via Twitter, the vast majority of the public, Republicans and Democrats alike, expressed dismay: overall, just 9% found the firing method appropriate, 69% did not. Republicans agreed that the firing by Twitter was inappropriate 59% to 16%.

But for many, the firing and replacement wasn’t a key piece of news. About a third of the public said they had heard nothing at all about it, the same percentage who claimed they had heard a lot. Republicans and Democrats were equally aware. 24% of the public approve of the firing, 31% do not. Those who had heard a lot about it also disapprove – 46% to 37%.

There was another tweet last week that referenced a different controversial Presidential action – telling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the US had a trade deficit with his country. Trudeau is generally popular with the American public: nearly half are favorable, and just 18% are not. Those are far better evaluations than the one Americans give to President Trump (56% of the American public views its own President unfavorably and just 37% are favorable). Republicans, who give the US President high marks, are closely divided on Trudeau. Republicans are also more likely to believe the US has a trade deficit with Canada.

The President doubled down on his claim in a tweet last week. In fact, while the country has a deficit in certain kinds of goods, trade deficits and surpluses are calculated on goods and services. Adding them together, the trade balance between the US and Canada gives the US a surplus.

The President did admit that he didn’t know what was true when he made the claim about a US-Canada trade deficit to Trudeau. Neither do many Americans: just 16% say they’ve heard a lot about the story. Those who did hear about it are far more likely to be Democrats. Only 5% of Republicans said they’d heard a lot about this story, while two-thirds of Republicans said they had heard “nothing” about it.

But Americans don’t like fibbing when negotiating – even when you don’t know the right answer. On this, Democrats and Republicans agree.

The President’s decision-making continues to come under scrutiny. More than half this week (as they did last week) say President Trump mostly ignores his advisers’ guidance, and 52% think he mostly has bad judgment (only 30% believe he mostly has good judgment). Only 20% believe he carefully considers what he says before commenting. That includes just 33% of Republicans.

In addition, many believe the President’s claim to Prime Minister Trudeau isn’t an isolated case. Half believe Mr. Trump says things “often” or “all the time” that may not be correct, and 78% think this happens at least some of time. 72% of Republicans agree the President sometimes makes incorrect claims, but few Republicans say it happens often. The more often people believe the President errs when he speaks, the more often they think he is doing it on purpose, and not accidentally.

More than twice as many Americans say they would use the word “bold” to describe the President as say they would not. But even more (63%) would call him “arrogant.” Just 9% reject that label.

All these controversies have taken a toll. The President’s 37% approval rating is the lowest it has been since last fall. More than half this week disapprove.

Read more topline and table results here

Photo: Getty