President Trump declared Monday that his political base is “bigger & stronger than ever before” despite recent polling — which he branded “fake” — that shows a drop-off in support.
In a series of tweets from Bedminster, N.J., where Trump is on what aides describe as a 17-day “working vacation,” he ticked off a number of factors that he said have “driven the Trump base even closer together.” Among them: record stock-market numbers, strong jobs reports, his Supreme Court pick this year and a backlash against “the Fake News Russian collusion story.”
“Will never change!” Trump wrote on Twitter about the strength of his base.
Trump's assessment comes amid a series of actions taken by the president's political operation to bolster support among his core backers at a time when his overall job approval is at a record low for this early a point in a presidency.
Trump has held a series of rallies in states he won last year — most recently in West Virginia last week — and over the weekend he posted a Facebook video that offers a newscast-style report from Trump Tower in New York with a favorable spin on the economy and a new Trump initiative on immigration, among other things.
In another attempt to bypass the media and speak directly to his supporters, Trump's campaign sent out a survey via email Monday soliciting feedback on a range of issues.
“The mainstream media and Hollywood love to tell you 'how America is feeling.' " Trump said in the solicitation. “But they know nothing. … It’s time to tune them out. It’s time to shut off the noise and just LISTEN.”
Among the questions Trump posed to his supporters: “Do you find the news to be generally negative/hateful?” and “Do you feel that you cannot publically admit that you support Trump?”
A poll last week from Quinnipiac University found that just 33 percent of voters overall approve of Trump’s job performance, a new low. Notably, support among white voters without a college degree — a key Trump demographic — had fallen off as well.
Just 43 percent of that group approved of Trump's job performance while 50 percent disapproved, the Quinnipiac poll found. In June, 53 percent of white voters without a college degree approved of the president.
In last year’s election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, 66 percent of whites with no college degree voted for Trump, according to exit polls.
Trump fared somewhat better last week in Gallup's daily tracking surveys, which found his overall approval between 36 percent and 38 percent, just above his record low points in its surveys.
Since the outset of his presidency, critics have said that with his policy choices, Trump has catered to his core supporters rather than try to broaden his appeal. Among the actions cited are his efforts to ban travel of citizens from six mostly Muslim countries, his support of a plan to reduce legal immigration and his issuance of an executive order intended to mitigate the impact of the so-called Johnson Amendment, which curtails the ability of churches to play an active role in elections. That is a priority of evangelicals, who overwhelmingly sided with Trump last year.
As evidence of his support among his base, Trump in his tweets cited the recent campaign rallies he has held in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia. The most recent of those, in Huntington, W.Va., last week, drew thousands of boisterous supporters to a downtown arena.
“Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!” he said in one of his morning tweets.
Trump, who is staying at his golf club in Bedminster, where it was pouring rain Monday morning, has bristled at characterizations of his stay as a “vacation.”
“Working hard from New Jersey while White House goes through long planned renovation,” he tweeted Monday morning, referring to an overhaul of heating and air conditioning system in the West Wing, among other things.
“Going to New York next week for more meetings,” Trump added.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters Monday that Trump plans to spend the first half of next week in New York.
The president had no public events scheduled Monday. Walters said that Trump received an intelligence briefing and talked by phone with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the situation in North Korea, among other activities.
Walters said a series of policy advisers and Cabinet secretaries will come up to Bedminster in coming days to discuss health care, tax reform and other issues. Vice President Pence is also expected to come up for a day, she said.
Several aides, including chief of staff John F. Kelly, were with Trump over the weekend.