When it comes to Pruitt, actions may matter more than policy

April 12, 2018, 2:00 PM GMT+0

Only 17% of Americans have a positive opinion of Scott Pruitt

The American public has a problem with officials who travel first class or pay less than the going rate when they rent a place to live. Those issues appear more important in the public’s assessment of the current Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt than do some of his actions limiting the regulation of the environment. This is true even of Republicans, who are otherwise most likely to support him.

In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, it appears that the more Americans hear about Pruitt, the less they like him. Twice as many today with an opinion have an unfavorable view of Pruitt as have a favorable one.

Half the public claims no opinion of the EPA head. Independents, many of whom had an open mind about Pruitt when he was named by President Trump as the EPA administrator after the 2016 election, now have an overwhelmingly negative assessment. Republicans remain positive.

Although almost twice as many disapprove of the job Pruitt has done at the EPA as approve, not all his actions are disliked. There is support for the EPA working with automobile manufacturers to reduce future fuel economy standards and make cars more affordable. This act gets support from two-thirds of Republicans, more than a third of independents and even one in four Democrats. Independents are more in favor than opposed.

But when it comes to Pruitt’s behavior – not his policies – as EPA administrator, there is an overwhelming belief that what he has done is not proper. Clear majorities find paying below-market rent, flying first class, and approving raises for two appointees that the White House previously had rejected inappropriate. And on all three of these examples, Republicans and 2016 Trump voters take the same position as the public overall.

The environment has not been a source of popularity for the President. In this week’s poll, nearly half disapprove of President Trump’s handling of the environment and just one in three approve. Americans have disapproved of his handling of the environment throughout the administration.

As for what should happen next, many Americans take no position. But should the President fire Pruitt, who directly manages US environmental policy? By three to one, Americans think he should do just that.

This question elicits the usual partisan divisions. But it is worth noting that many Trump supporters are willing to lose Pruitt. More Republicans say Pruitt should be fired than think the opposite, although half give no opinion. As many Trump voters think Pruitt should go as believe he should stay.

Read more toplines and tables results here

Photo: Getty

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