West Long Branch, NJ – Donald Trump making Washington politicians uncomfortable may be a good thing according to half of the American public. But his behavior is seen as making it more difficult to get anything done according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. More people feel the president should change his ways to get Congress to move his agenda than say he shouldn’t alter his behavior. In the end though, very few Americans would be satisfied if disrupting DC was Trump’s only major accomplishment in office. Still, the president’s overall job approval has ticked up ever so slightly in the past month.
Pres. Trump’s current job rating stands at a net negative 41% approve and 49% disapprove. This is nominally, although not significantly, better than his 39%-52% rating in July. More Americans (51%) continue to say they want Trump to give more attention to issues that are important to their families than say he is giving these issues enough attention now (40%). However, this is an improvement from May, when 62% said they wanted Trump to focus more on these concerns and just 34% said he was doing enough already.
“There just hasn’t been a huge shift in Trump’s job rating over the past few months. There is some degree of settling in with the public as his policy agenda has been overshadowed by his behavior,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The American public is fairly divided about the impact of the president’s temperament. Nearly half (49%) see it as a good thing if Pres. Trump’s behavior makes career politicians in Washington feel uncomfortable, while 39% say this is a bad thing. By a similar margin, though, more (52%) feel that Trump’s treatment of the Republicans in Congress has made it difficult for them to pass major items on his agenda, compared to 39% who disagree that his behavior has hampered his legislative program.
“There is a certain degree of ambivalence about the president’s persona. Many Americans feel that Trump setting Washington politicians on edge is simply giving them what they deserve. At the same time, there is concern that his behavior could hinder progress on bread and butter issues,” said Murray.
A slim majority (53%) say the president should change the way he behaves toward his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill in order to get more things done, while just over one-third (35%) say he should not alter his treatment of the Republican leadership even if it means major agenda items will not get accomplished. In fact, only 1-in-3 Americans say they would be satisfied – 9% very satisfied and 23% somewhat satisfied – if Trump’s legacy as president was disrupting the way career DC politicians operate without making any improvements in key areas like jobs, infrastructure and taxes. Most Americans would be very (35%) or somewhat (22%) dissatisfied if Trump made no progress on these economic issues.
The Monmouth University Poll also finds the jury is still out on whether the president is on track to fundamentally transform Washington’s errant ways. As a candidate, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” once he got into office, but only 25% of Americans feel he has made progress on that front. A similar number (26%) say he has actually made the swamp worse, while a plurality of 39% say nothing has really changed in how the DC “swamp” functions. The proportion of the public who currently say Trump has started to drain the swamp is similar to May when it stood at 24%. But the number who say Trump has made things worse declined from 32% four months ago while those who say nothing has changed increased slightly from 35% in May.
Murray added, “It is not clear yet what impact the events in Charlottesville and the president’s response had on his rating as this unexpectedly occurred while we were in the middle of interviewing for this poll. But we’ve gotten used to making this type of disclaimer for practically every presidential poll we conduct.”
Nearly seven months after taking office, it’s beginning to look like much of Trump’s support is locked in. Among those who currently approve of the president’s job performance, most (61%) say they cannot see Trump doing anything that would make them disapprove of him. Among those who currently disapprove of the president, a majority (57%) say they cannot foresee Trump doing anything – other than resigning – that would make them change their minds about him. In other words, about 25% of the American public support Trump and say they will not change their mind, while a nearly identical 28% say the opposite – disapproving of Trump and not expecting to alter that opinion. The remaining half of the public are unsure about the president’s job performance or are open to changing their opinion.
The one-quarter of the public who solidly support the president are more likely than the full population to be age 55 and older (46% versus 35% of all American adults) and less likely to be under 35 years old (22% versus 31% of all American adults). They are also more likely to be non-Hispanic whites (79% versus 65% of all American adults). They are somewhat less likely to hold a college degree (21% versus 29% of all American adults) but they are evenly split on gender (52% male and 48% female) similar to the population at large (48% male and 52% female). Their income profile is also similar to the full population.
At the other end of the spectrum, those who solidly disapprove of the president are more likely to be women (64% versus 52% of all American adults) and non-white (48% versus 35% of all American adults). They are slightly more likely to be college graduates (35% versus 29% of all American adults). This group’s age profile – 37% age 55+, 38% age 35-54, 26% age 18-34 – is fairly similar to the general public’s age distribution as is their income profile.
The poll also finds public opinion of Congress holding steady at 18% approve and 69% disapprove. Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) say the country has gotten off on the wrong track compared to 32% who say it is headed in the right direction, similar to where it has stood since Trump took office.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 10 to 14, 2017 with 805 adults in the United States. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 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.)
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?
10% (VOL) No opinion
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?
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?
32% Right direction
58% Wrong track
4% (VOL) Depends
5% (VOL) Don’t know
4A. [If APPROVE of Trump] Can you think of anything that Trump could do, or fail to do, in his term as president that would make you disapprove of the job he is doing, or not?
[n=329; moe = +/- 5.4%]
6% (VOL) Don’t know
4B. [If DISAPPROVE of Trump] Can you think of anything Trump could do, other than resign, in his term as president that would make you approve of the job he is doing, or not?
[n=406; moe = +/- 4.9%]
4% (VOL) Don’t know
5. 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?
40% Giving enough attention
51% Wish he’d give more attention
9% (VOL) Don’t know
6. 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?
25% Made progress draining the swamp
26% Made the swamp worse
39% Nothing has really changed
10% (VOL) Don’t know
7. Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing if President Trump’s behavior in office makes career politicians in Washington feel uncomfortable?
49% Good thing
39% Bad thing
12% (VOL) Don’t know
8. Do you agree or disagree that Donald Trump’s behavior toward the Republicans in Congress has made it difficult for them to pass major items on his agenda?
9% (VOL) Don’t know
9. Should Trump change the way he behaves toward Republican leaders in Congress in order to get more things done – OR – Should Trump continue to behave the same as he does now toward Republican leaders in Congress even if that means some major agenda items won’t get passed? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]
53% Change the way he behaves
35% Continue to behave the same as he does now
6% (VOL) Neither, disagrees with premise
5% (VOL) Don’t know
10. Let’s say that Trump’s major accomplishment as president was disrupting the way career politicians in Washington operate, but there would not be any significant improvements in other areas like jobs, infrastructure, and taxes. Would you be very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied with this outcome?
9% Very satisfied
23% Somewhat satisfied
22% Somewhat dissatisfied
35% Very dissatisfied
10% (VOL) Don’t know
[Q11-23 held for future release.]
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 10 to 14, 2017 with a national random sample of 805 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 401 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 404 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 3.5 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.
Download this Poll Report with all tables