The poll was conducted by America First Policies, a pro-Trump nonprofit group established shortly after the president’s inauguration last year. A report published Thursday by CNBC details how the group, officially classified as a “social welfare organization,” is conducting extensive polling that is usually conducted by major party committees on behalf of an incumbent president.
“Our primary purpose has to be issue-related, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw in questions that are news-related or political [in our polling],” Erin Montgomery, communications director for America First Policies, told the business network.
Shortly after the CNBC report surfaced, Democratic aides noticed this question in the group’s most recent poll: “When talking about the bonuses that companies like AT&T, Wells Fargo and Visa have recently given their employees due to tax reform, Nancy Pelosi said, ‘In terms of the bonus that corporate America received versus the crumbs that they are giving workers to kind of put the schmooze on is so pathetic.’ Do you agree or disagree with Nancy Pelosi’s statement?”
The poll found that 49 percent of respondents totally agreed with her statement, while 43 percent disagreed. More respondents strongly disagreed (35 percent) than strongly agreed (31 percent) with Pelosi. Eighteen percent “somewhat agreed” with her comment, while 9 percent “somewhat disagreed.” Three percent of respondents said it “depends,” or were neutral on the questions, while 5 percent were “unsure” or refused to answer.
On Jan. 11, Pelosi was asked at a news conference, “A number of companies are attributing the tax bill for being able to give higher wages to their employees as well as being able to give a number of bonuses to their employees. How do you respond to that?”
“In terms of the bonus that corporate America received versus the crumbs that they are giving to workers to kind of put the schmooze on is so pathetic. It’s so pathetic,” Pelosi said. “And I would hope that with their big advantage of bringing money home at a very low rate, that they would invest in infrastructure and things. But our experience has been that they will do dividends. They will do stock buybacks and things like that. I think it’s insignificant.”
The poll suggests that the attack on Pelosi, now dominating Republican talking points and ads, may not be resonating — at least not yet. An ad released last month by American Action Network, a well-financed outside group aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), highlighted her comments and showed Pelosi’s face projected onto buildings along the skyline of San Francisco, a city that the right considers the temple of out-of-touch liberalism.
Trump has also seized on Pelosi’s comments, comparing them to a memorable gaffe in 2016 by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, when she said that half of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.”
“Does that make sense — deplorables and crumbs?” Trump asked during a speech at a congressional Republican retreat in West Virginia last month. “Those two words, they seem to have a resemblance. I hope it has the same meaning. But she called it ‘crumbs,’ when people are getting $2,000 and $3,000 and $1,000. That’s not crumbs — that’s a lot of money.”
While the poll may have inadvertently exposed some hopeful news for Pelosi, it did reinforce that she remains unpopular in the minds of most Americans.
When the survey asked respondents if they had a positive or negative impression of Pelosi, 32 percent said they have a positive impression of her; 53 percent said they had a negative impression of her. Ryan was perceived positively by 34 percent of respondents, while 50 percent said they had a negative impression of him. Trump had a 41 percent positive rating, compared to 54 percent negative.
The poll of 1,200 respondents was conducted Feb. 16-20 and has a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points, the group said.