With the exception of rolling back some regulations and putting a respected conservative jurist on the Supreme Court, President Trump has had a disastrous first five months. Job increases have slowed, his health-care bill is widely disliked and tax reform seems impossible in the short run. His pullout from the Paris climate agreement has been panned domestically and internationally, and his administration is beset by scandal. Two of his most important executive orders (on so-called sanctuary cities and the travel ban) have been stopped in the courts, others (a directive to build the wall) are meaningless and still others are hopelessly vague. Lacking scores of political appointees, he has little ability to see that his policy initiatives are implemented.
No wonder his approval ratings have plummeted. In the latest CBS News poll, his approval rating has fallen 5 points since April to a measly 36 percent; his disapproval now stands at 57 percent. Most noteworthy, his support among Republicans has tumbled to 72 percent. (Anything below 80 percent is cause for panic.)
By a 63 percent to 28 percent margin, Americans disapprove of his handling of the Russia scandal. With regard to Russia, they overwhelmingly think that the issue is serious or a national security risk rather than a political distraction (66/32); former FBI director James B. Comey is more credible than Trump (57/31); Trump is trying to protect his own hide, not the country (64/30); Russia interfered in the election, whether or not it wanted to help Trump (62/31); and it is very or somewhat likely that his advisers had improper communications with the Russians (65/32). Fifty-two percent think his private meetings with Comey were illegal or improper, and Robert S. Mueller III is considered impartial by a wide majority (56/30). A stunning 81 percent think he should not fire Mueller. Given how strenuously Trump has disputed each of these propositions, it’s evident that he has been at best ineffective, and maybe counterproductive, as his own defender.
Meanwhile, Americans broadly oppose his decision on the Paris agreement, according to a new Associated Press/NORC poll:
Twenty-nine percent of Americans say they strongly or somewhat support withdrawing from the agreement, 23 percent neither support nor oppose, and 46 percent somewhat or strongly oppose withdrawing. Fifty-one percent of Republicans support the withdrawal while 69 percent of Democrats oppose it, and those who say climate change is not happening are three times as likely as those who say it is to support withdrawing from the agreement.
Forty-four percent of Americans are concerned that withdrawing from the Paris agreement will hurt the country’s reputation, and another 43 percent are concerned that global efforts to fight climate change will be harmed by U.S. withdrawal. Half believe that withdrawing from the agreement will be harmful to the economy in the long run. . . .
The poll shows about two-thirds of Americans think that climate change is happening, while only about 1 in 10 think it’s not. The remaining quarter aren’t sure one way or another. Seven in 10 Americans — including some of those who aren’t sure whether climate change is actually happening — think it’s a problem that the U.S. government should be working to address. Among those who do think it’s a problem the government should address, more oppose than support withdrawing from the Paris agreement by a 60 percent to 21 percent margin.
In sum, on the two issues that have dominated the news of late — Russia and climate change — the president is sharply at odds with a large majority of voters. His credibility on Russia is so terrible that it is far from clear whether he can recapture the public’s support. On climate change, his play to his scientifically illiterate base has cost him the support of the vast majority of voters. Democrats worried that too much focus has been put on Russia as opposed to health care shouldn’t be too quick to abandon their focus on the worst attack on American democracy since 9/11 or the president’s ham-handed efforts to discredit or slow down the investigators. Democrats are not only winning the argument but also seem to have succeeded in pushing down Trump’s overall support.