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Public Not Fazed by Unconventional Presidency; Trump Ratings Stable

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Few see any progress ‘draining the swamp’

West Long Branch, NJ – President Donald Trump’s approach to his job is seen as unconventional by the vast majority of Americans, with many saying this has not been particularly good for the country. However, few are particularly surprised by Trump’s behavior in office, which is one reason why his job approval rating has remained negative but fairly stable over the past year. The latest Monmouth University Poll also finds that just one-quarter of the public feel Trump has made progress on a key campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington.

Pres. Trump’s job rating currently stands at 41% approve and 50% disapprove. This is nominally better than – but not significantly different from – his 39% approve and 54% disapprove rating in March. In fact, with the exception of a notable dip last December, Trump’s approval rating in Monmouth’s polling over the past twelve months has stayed within a narrow band ranging from 39% to 42% while his disapproval rating has ranged from 49% to 54%.

“Trump’s job rating fluctuates over a narrow range like the ebb and flow of the tides. We have to stop making a big deal out of small shifts in those numbers. The bigger question is why this metric does not move all that much given the chaotic nature of his time in office. A significant factor is that few Americans are all that surprised by the chaos,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Fully 81% of Americans say the way Trump runs his administration has been less conventional than prior presidents. Just 12% say he has been as conventional as his predecessors and another 2% even volunteer that he has been more conventional. Despite his lack of convention, fully 79% of Americans say they are not really surprised by Trump’s behavior in office. Just 9% are very surprised and 10% are somewhat surprised by how he comports himself as leader of the free world. There is widespread partisan agreement on this – 82% of Republicans, 80% of independents and 76% of Democrats say that Trump’s behavior as president has not come as a surprise to them.

“It seems that most Americans walked into the Trump era with eyes wide open about what he would bring to the table. That’s one reason why his ratings do not move all that much despite his provocative tweets and similar actions that drive nearly every news cycle. I think the few who still seem to be fazed by his behavior may mainly be political pundits and the media,” said Murray

Even though most Americans are not surprised by Trump’s behavior in office, it does not mean they are happy about it. Just 27% say that the president being less conventional than prior presidents is good for the country while nearly half (46%) say his uncommon approach to the job is bad for the country. Another 19% do not feel that he has actually been less conventional. In what should come as no surprise to anyone, a solid majority of Republicans (57%) say Trump’s lack of convention is good for the country while an even larger majority of Democrats (75%) say it is bad.

“Even though the president has certainly shaken up Washington, one of the reasons his job rating remains underwater is that he really hasn’t moved the needle on actually changing the political culture there. Despite resurrecting his call to ‘drain the swamp’ in a tweet he sent yesterday, few Americans feel the capital has become any less swampy under Trump,” said Murray.

Just 25% of Americans say the president has made progress on his campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” Slightly under 4-in-10 (37%) say that Trump has not really changed anything about the DC culture and nearly one-third (31%) say he has actually made the “swamp” worse. This marks the fourth time Monmouth has asked this question since Trump took office and the current results are in line with results over the past year. The poll also finds that 33% of the public think the country is heading in the right direction and 58% say things have gotten off on the wrong track – a result which is also in line with polling over most of the past year.

In other poll results, Monmouth asked the same presidential impeachment question that Gallup used during the administration of Richard Nixon and finds little movement on that metric as well. About 4-in-10 (39%) say that Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency while a majority of 56% disagree. Support for impeachment stood at a similar 38% in January and 41% last July.

“The majority view is you can’t impeach Trump for doing what most people expected he would do as president to begin with,” said Murray.

One area where there does seem to be a slight change of opinion is the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links to the Trump campaign. While a majority of Americans (54%) support continuing the special counsel’s Russia probe, that support level is down slightly from 60% about two months ago. Currently, 43% say the investigation should end (compared with 37% who said the same in March).

Even though support for the investigation is down slightly, most Americans feel that special counsels should have some protections if they are fired. Specifically, 57% say that a special counsel should be able to appeal to a panel of federal judges who would decide if there is just cause for the firing or if the counsel should remain in that post. Just 27% oppose this measure, which is included in the bipartisan Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act that recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. Another 16% have no opinion. Most Democrats (71%) and independents (58%) support providing this type of protection for special counsels, but Republicans are divided (39% support and 43% oppose).

The Monmouth University Poll also asked about the president’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. More than 6-in-10 Americans (63%) say it is a good idea to hold this meeting while just 28% say it is a bad idea. However, public faith in Trump’s ability to deal with the North Korean situation is divided – with 37% saying they are confident and 40% who are not confident. Another 1-in-4 (23%) are not sure of their confidence level, although more of this group tends to lean toward being not confident (13%) rather than confident (8%). These results are very similar to polls taken in January 2018 and August 2017, although it should be noted that the confidence question in those prior polls was asked in the context of a possible nuclear threat from North Korea.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 26 to 30, 2018 with 803 adults in the United States.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.  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?

TREND:April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Sept.
2017
Aug.
2017
July
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Approve41%39%42%32%40%41%39%39%43%
Disapprove50%54%50%56%49%49%52%53%46%
(VOL) No opinion9%8%8%12%11%10%9%8%11%
(n)(803)(803)(806)(806)(1,009)(805)(800)(1,002)(801)

[Q2 held for future release.]

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

TREND:April
2018
March
2018
Jan.
2018
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
March
2017
Jan.
2017
Right direction33%31%37%24%32%31%35%29%
Wrong track58%61%57%66%58%61%56%65%
(VOL) Depends5%6%3%7%4%5%4%4%
(VOL) Don’t know4%1%3%3%5%3%5%2%
(n)(803)(803)(806)(806)(805)(1,002)(801)(801)
TREND: ContinuedAug.
2016*
Oct.
2015
July
2015
June
2015
April
2015
Dec.
2014
July
2013
Right direction30%24%28%23%27%23%28%
Wrong track65%66%63%68%66%69%63%
(VOL) Depends2%6%5%5%5%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know3%4%3%3%2%3%4%
(n)(803)(1,012)(1,001)(1,002)(1,005)(1,008)(1,012)

* Registered voters

[Q4-9 held for future release.]

10. Do you think President Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the Presidency, or not?

TREND:April
2018
Jan.
2018
July
2017
Yes, should39%38%41%
No, should not56%57%53%
(VOL) Don’t know5%4%6%
(n)(803)(806)(800)

11. 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?

TREND:April.
2018
Dec.
2017
Aug.
2017
May
2017
Made progress draining the swamp25%20%25%24%
Made the swamp worse31%33%26%32%
Nothing has really changed37%38%39%35%
(VOL) Don’t know7%9%10%8%
(n)(803)(806)(805)(1,002)

12. Would you say the way Trump runs his administration has been less conventional than prior presidents, or about as conventional as prior presidents?

 April
2018
Less conventional81%
About as conventional12%
(VOL) More conventional2%
(VOL) Don’t know5%
(n)(803)

13. Is Trump being less conventional good or bad for the country?

 April
2018
Good27%
Bad46%
(VOL) Both good and bad5%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
Not less conventional (from Q12)19%
(n)(803)

14. Now that he’s been in office for more than a year, are you surprised by how Donald Trump has behaved as president or doesn’t his behavior really surprise you? If “SURPRISED”: Is that very or just somewhat surprised?

 April
2018
Yes, very surprised9%
Yes, somewhat surprised10%
No, not really surprised79%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
(n)(803)

15. A special counsel is currently conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links with the Trump campaign. Should the Russia investigation continue or should it end?

TREND:April
2018
March
2018
July
2017
May
2017*
Continue54%60%62%73%
End43%37%33%24%
(VOL) Don’t know3%3%5%3%
(n)(803)(803)(800)(1,002)

[* May’17 question was asked about the then-ongoing FBI investigation.]

16. In the event a special counsel is fired, would you support or oppose allowing that counsel to file an appeal with a panel of federal judges who would then decide if there is just cause for the firing or if the counsel should remain in their position?

TREND:April
2018
Support57%
Oppose27%
(VOL) Don’t know16%
(n)(803)

17. President Trump is supposed to meet with the North Korean leader soon. Is this a good idea or bad idea?

 April
2018
Good idea63%
Bad idea28%
(VOL) Don’t know8%
(n)(803)

18. Are you confident or not confident in President Trump’s ability to deal with the North Korea situation, or are you not sure? [If NOT SURE: Do you lean more toward feeling confident or more toward feeling not confident?]

TREND:April
2018
Jan.
2018
Aug.
2017
Confident37%41%42%
Not sure, lean confident8%6%6%
Not sure2%2%3%
Not sure, lean not confident13%11%11%
Not confident40%40%38%
(n)(803)(806)(805)

[Q19-34 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from April 26 to 30, 2018 with a national random sample of 803 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 401 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 402 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.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
26% Republican
41% Independent
33% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
30% 18-34
34% 35-54
36% 55+
 
65% White
12% Black
15% Hispanic

  8% Asian/Other

 

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables