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Trump is His Own Worst Spokesperson; Spicer, Conway Not Much Better

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

VP Pence does best job representing his boss

West Long Branch, NJ  – President Trump may not be well-served by his primary spokespeople, but he is probably his own worst mouthpiece, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll . More Americans say that Donald Trump, press secretary Sean Spicer, and counselor Kellyanne Conway tend to hurt rather than help the administration’s cause when they step in front of the media. Reviews are mixed for deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Vice President Mike Pence is the only official tested in the poll who has a net positive impact when he speaks on behalf of the administration.

Fully 6-in-10 (61%) Americans say Trump does more to hurt his own cause when he speaks on behalf of the administration. Just 33% say he does more to help his administration when he speaks publicly.

More say that Spicer hurts (42%) rather than helps (28%) the president when he takes to the press room podium, with 3-in-10 registering no opinion.

A similar number say that Conway hurts (40%) rather than helps (28%) the president when she hits the cable news circuit, with about 3-in-10 registering no opinion.

Opinion is divided on Sanders at 23% helps and 22% hurts, although more than half of the public have no opinion of her performance.

Pence is the only one of five officials tested who usually puts his best foot forward according to the poll. A majority (53%) say he does more to help the president and just 29% say he does more harm when he speaks on behalf of the administration.

“This is the epitome of a no-win situation. It’s not as if Trump’s appointed spokespeople are doing worse than the man himself. It may simply be an impossible task to represent this president and come off as credible,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

The usual hyper-partisan splits in American public opinion also apply to these results.  Republicans tend to see all of these officials as doing a good job making the president’s case, including Pence, (87% helps – 4% hurts), Trump (67% – 25%), Spicer (53% – 15%), Conway (53% – 16%), and Sanders (40% – 5%).

Democrats tend to think four of these officials are hopeless as administration spokespersons, although they are somewhat more divided on Mike Pence (32% helps – 48% hurts). No more than 1-in-10 Democrats think that Trump (10% helps – 86% hurts), Spicer (11% – 61%), Conway (9% – 57%), and Sanders (11% – 36%) do a good job in front of the cameras – or on Twitter, as the case may be.

“It shouldn’t escape DC’s attention that the vice president is seen as a better mouthpiece for the administration than the man who actually occupies the Oval Office, even among their fellow Republicans,” said Murray.

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.


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

[Q1-19 previously released.]


I’m going to read you a list of White House officials who sometime speak for the Trump administration. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with President Trump, please tell me if each person does more to help or more to hurt the president when they speak on behalf of the administration. If you are not familiar with a person I name please let me know.
First…[READ NAME] – Does [s/he] do more to help or more to hurt the president when [s/he] speaks for the administration?

20. Sean Spicer

More to help28%
More to hurt42%
Not familiar with person22%
(VOL) Don’t know8%

21. Kellyanne Conway

More to help28%
More to hurt40%
Not familiar with person24%
(VOL) Don’t know7%

22. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

More to help23%
More to hurt22%
Not familiar with person46%
(VOL) Don’t know9%

23. Mike Pence

More to help53%
More to hurt29%
Not familiar with person11%
(VOL) Don’t know7%

24. Donald Trump

More to help33%
More to hurt61%
Not familiar with person0%
(VOL) Don’t know6%


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.



24% Republican
45% Independent
31% Democrat
49% Male
51% Female
32% 18-34
37% 35-54
31% 55+
66% White
12% Black
15% Hispanic

7% Asian/Other


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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs