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Poll Watchers: the Trump card, Afghanistan, Obama and the birthers, the economy and nuclear energy

• Trump and the GOP – The Donald continues to make a splash this week with Friday marking the second straight day where he wins double digits in GOP primary polling. Thursday’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds Trump hovering atop the field with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, winning 17 percent of potential Republican primary voters. The latest poll from Fox News finds Trump winning 11 percent among Republican voters. On a wider stage, Trump doesn’t hold up as well; in the Fox poll he loses to President Obama by 52 to 34 percent in a hypothetical match-up. And in a new Gallup poll, Trump’s unfavorable ratings outnumber his favorable ratings, but only narrowly so -- 47 to 43 percent. Among Republicans his favorable ratings rise to 52 percent.  

• Afghanistan – Views of the war effort split about evenly in a new Gallup poll; 49 percent see things going badly and 47 percent see things going well. This measure has improved since negative ratings peaked at 66 percent in November 2009.  Forty-two percent also say the war has been a mistake, a number that’s been marching upward since military action began in 2001. Republicans remain solidly behind the war with 70 percent saying it’s not a mistake and 64 percent saying its going well. Democrats and independents are less convinced. The Gallup data closely reflects Pew data this week, where 50 percent see the military effort going well and 44 percent not well. Regardless of the direction of the war, the public clearly believes that the war has not been worth fighting considering the costs versus the benefits in the March Washington Post-ABC News poll.

• Obama – The incorrect belief that President Obama was born outside the United States still captures 24 percent of registered voters in the new Fox poll. This view rises to 47 percent among Republicans and 44 percent among tea party supporters. The birther controversy lives on perhaps because 40 percent in the Fox poll say “there is cause to wonder” about his place of birth. Again, this view peaks at 63 percent among Republicans and 72 percent among tea party supporters.  

• Economy – A 54 percent majority says it will be a long time before the economy recovers in a new Pew poll, up from 42 percent in February. Only 20 percent see the economy recovering now and 24 percent think the economy will recover soon, down from 33 percent. The same poll finds Obama’s approval ratings sagging at 47 percent.

• Nuclear energy – There’s been a 10-point decline in the number of Americans who favor building more nuclear power plants at this time, down from 49 percent in 2009 to 39 percent now in an AP poll.

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