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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Not Much Swamp-Draining in DC

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Many say AHCA passage driven more by politics than policy

West Long Branch, NJ  - Donald Trump promised to "drain the swamp" when he got to Washington, but only 1-in-4 Americans think he is making progress on that front. In fact, an even larger number think he is actually making the swamp worse, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll . Only one-third of the public feels the president gives enough attention to bread and butter issues important to American families. On the congressional front, many believe that the House passed the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) primarily to give Republicans a political win rather than fix the health care system.

The president continues to assert that he is working to "drain the swamp" of Washington politics, but only 24% of Americans believe he is making progress on that score - including 51% of Republicans, 24% of independents, and 4% of Democrats. In fact, 32% of the public say he is actually making the swamp worse - including 53% of Democrats, 34% of independents, and 3% of Republicans.  Another third (35%) say that nothing about "the swamp" has really changed under President Trump - an opinion shared fairly equally by Republicans (37%), Democrats (36%), and independents (34%) alike.

"If draining the swamp is a measurable campaign promise, it doesn't look like President Trump has been able to keep it," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

There have been some shifts in the public's visceral reaction to Washington since last September, but the mood is still overwhelmingly pessimistic. Overall, negative feelings about Washington have dipped slightly from 86% in September to 79% in the current poll. However, the number who feel "angry" has increased - from 20% to 25% - while the number who feel "dissatisfied" has decreased - from 66% to 54%. In the positive sphere, the share of Americans who are now "satisfied" with Washington has ticked up from 9% to 16%, while those who say they are actually "happy" has stayed basically stable - going from 3% to 2%.

Negative views of Washington have declined most dramatically among Republicans - from 94% in September to 61% now - but that still leaves the vast majority of Republicans feeling negative about DC.  Democratic negativity has ticked up from 75% to 88%, while independents' negativity has remained more stable - going from 89% in the fall to 84% now.

"The key benchmark for most Americans is whether the president keeps his eye on the ball regarding bread and butter issues that impact American families where they live," said Murray.

Just over one-third (35%) of the public says President Trump's agenda so far has focused a lot on issues that are important to average Americans - which is down from 42% who said the same in March. Another 30% say he has focused a little on these issues and 32% say he has not focused at all on issues important to average Americans.

Only 34% of Americans say Trump gives enough attention to issues that are most important to their own families, while a majority of 62% wish the president would give those issues more attention.  Two months ago, 36% said Trump was giving these issues enough attention and 57% said they wish he would do more.

The shift in these results comes mainly from political independents. Just 33% of independents say Trump is focused a lot on issues of importance to average Americans, which is down from 44% two months ago. And just 31% of independents say he gives enough attention to the issues that affect their families, down from 37% in March.

In other Monmouth University Poll  results, 31% of the public thinks the country is heading in the right direction and 61% say we have gotten off on the wrong track. These numbers are down slightly from the 35% right direction and 56% wrong direction results in March. They are closer to poll findings from January, just prior to Trump's inauguration, when 29% said right direction and 65% said wrong track.

Approval of the job Congress is doing has also dipped back under 20% after experiencing a minor surge earlier this year. Currently, 19% approve and 68% disapprove of the job Congress is doing.  Approval comes from just 38% of Republicans, 12% of independents and 13% of Democrats. Congressional job approval was higher in March (25%) and January (23%), while it was lower back in September (15%).

"The 'Mission Accomplished' ceremony in the Rose Garden after the House passed AHCA really did nothing to elevate the public's overall view of Washington. It fed the prevailing sense that Congressional leaders are more concerned with political victories than with helping average Americans," said Murray.

Just 32% approve of the latest AHCA incarnation and a majority of 55% disapprove. While 71% of Republicans approve of the new bill, only 29% of independents and 6% of Democrats feel the same.

Nearly half of the public (46%) feels the House passed AHCA largely to give Republicans a political win. Just 21% say it was primarily a genuine attempt to fix the health care system. Another 27% say the bill's passage came down to both reasons - politics and genuine policy - equally.

While the fate of this bill in the Senate is uncertain, nearly half (44%) of the public expects their own health care costs to go up if it becomes law. Another 36% expect their costs to stay about the same, and just 13% expect their costs to go down. There is a predictable partisan split on expectations that their health care costs will go up - ranging from 68% of Democrats to 42% of independents and 17% of Republicans.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 13 to 17, 2017 with 1,002 adults in the United States, although no interviews were conducted on Sunday May 14.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                               

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)         

[ Q1 previously released. ]

2.     Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

19%     Approve

68%     Disapprove

13%     (VOL) No opinion

3.     Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

31%     Right direction

61%     Wrong track

  5%     (VOL) Depends

  3%     (VOL) Don't know

4.     Which of the following words best describes how you feel about Washington - angry, dissatisfied, satisfied, or happy?

* Registered voters  

25%     Angry

54%     Dissatisfied

16%     Satisfied

  2%     Happy

  2%     (VOL) Don't know

[ Q5-X13E previously released. ]

14.   How much has Donald Trump's agenda during his first months in office focused on the issues important to average Americans - a lot, a little, or not at all?

35%     A lot

30%     A little

32%     Not at all

  3%     (VOL) Don't know

15.   Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with President Trump, has he been giving enough attention to the issues that are most important to your family or do you wish he would give more attention to issues that are important to your family?

34%     Giving enough attention

62%     Wish he'd give more attention

  5%     (VOL) Don't know

16.   Donald Trump promised to "drain the swamp" when he got to Washington. Would you say that he has made progress draining the swamp, that he has made the swamp worse, or that nothing has really changed?

24%     Made progress draining the swamp

32%     Made the swamp worse

35%     Nothing has really changed

  8%     (VOL) Don't know


17.   Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act. This new bill repeals or replaces certain provisions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare. Do you approve or disapprove of this new bill?

32%     Approve

55%     Disapprove

13%     (VOL) Don't know

18.   Which of the following statements describes this bill more: it is a genuine attempt to fix the health care system - or - it was passed largely to give Republicans a political victory, or both reasons equally? [ CHOICES WERE ROTATED ]

21%     It is a genuine attempt to fix the health care system

46%     It was passed largely to give Republicans a political victory

27%     Both reasons equally

  6%     (VOL) Don't know

19.   If this new bill becomes law, do you think your own health care costs would go up, go down, or stay about the same?

44%     Go up

13%     Go down

36%     Stay about the same

  7%     (VOL) Don't know

[ Q20-24 held for future release. ]



The Monmouth University Poll  was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 13 to 17, 2017 with a national random sample of 1,002 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 501 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 501 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.  

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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