Public Religion Research Institute released on Monday its survey of more than 2,500 adults on everything from race and immigration to Russia and President Trump’s language. Among its findings, the poll results show that a large majority of Americans disagree with most of what President Trump says and does.
A plurality (40 percent) say health care is the biggest issue in the midterms. Democrats hold a nine-point advantage (48 percent to 39 percent) in the generic congressional poll. Sixty percent have an unfavorable view of Trump, 47 percent very unfavorable. Meanwhile, “only 35% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump, including 14% who say their opinion is very favorable.” Republicans overwhelmingly (82 percent) have a favorable view, while Democrats (89 percent) and independents have an unfavorable view.
Trump’s job approval is only slightly better — 58 percent disapprove, 42 percent strongly while 41 percent approve. Remarkably, 46 percent say that they disapprove and that nothing Trump can do will change their minds. Some 54 percent say “his decisions and behavior as president have encouraged white supremacist groups.” (Emphasis added.) Moreover, ” A slim majority (51%) of Republicans approve of Trump but say there is something he could do [to] lose their approval.” For all the support he has among Republicans, 33 percent prefer someone else as the 2020 nominee.
Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) say Trump has “marred” the presidency. A thin majority (51 percent to 47 percent) think he should not be impeached.
Large majorities disagree with Trump’s animus toward the FBI (65 percent approve of its performance). Seventy-five percent of Americans view Russia unfavorably, and 80 percent view Vladimir Putin unfavorably. Opinion on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is slightly negative, however (39 percent approve, 45 percent don’t). The #MeToo movement gets positive ratings overall (48 percent), while only 18 percent say it has “led to the unfair treatment of men.”
When it comes to issues of immigration, Americans remain a tolerant and welcoming people, with 64 percent who say that the United States “becoming a majority-nonwhite nation by 2045 will be a mostly positive change. One-third (33%) of Americans say that the impact of this demographic shift will be mostly negative.” Large majorities oppose the wall or preventing refugees from coming. More than 70 percent oppose the family separation policy. “More than six in ten (62%) Americans favor allowing immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status, while about one-third (35%) are opposed.” The same percentage favor a path to citizenship with conditions for illegal immigrants generally. Large percentages say immigrants are hardworking, have strong values and make an effort to learn English.
However, opinion is sharply divided on whether we should limit legal immigration, whether our culture is at risk from foreigners, whether to ban temporarily people from majority-Muslim countries and whether the United States is a “Christian nation.” A majority disapprove of cities limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials.
On race, opinion is divided on removing Confederate statutes among those who want to leave them as is (19 percent), add a plaque for historical context (44 percent) or remove them altogether (26 percent). A majority (53 percent) think “recent killings of African American men by police are part of a broader pattern of how police treat African Americans, while more than four in ten (45%) say they are isolated incidents.” On football players kneeling, Americans favor requiring them to stand by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent, but support for requiring them to stand has “dropped modestly over the past year, when roughly half (55%) said professional athletes should be required to stand and around four in ten (42%) said they should not.” A large majority (73 percent) think there is a lot of discrimination against African Americans, while only one-third say there is a lot of discrimination against whites.
The big takeaway one gets from this is that Trump is badly out of step with a large majority of Americans on all sorts of issues, but when you drill down, his base (Republicans and/or evangelical Christians) is strongly in sync with him on most issues, including nostalgia for an earlier America, banning refugees, the family separation policy, fearing a majority-minority country, opposing legalization and views of immigrants. Like Trump, his supporters in comparison with the rest of the country are much more favorably disposed to Russia, less supportive of the FBI and more inclined to think police killings of African Americans are isolated events. Trump supporters think that he hasn’t damaged the presidency or encouraged white nationalists and that he’s got it right on the #MeToo movement (i.e. it’s a negative overall, since it treats men unfairly).
Trump sees himself as president of his base, playing to their preferences, fears and prejudices. They and he, however, don’t represent a large majority of Americans. If Trump followers feel alienated from America and feel they no longer set political and cultural norms, they’re right. And if the majority of Americans insist Trump is trampling on their values, norms, attitudes and worldview, they are also correct. If the majority, however, wants to eliminate the gap between Trump and the predominant views of their fellow Americans, they better get out and vote. We’re a divided country, but certainly not a 50-50 country.
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