I’m going to bury the lead on just how dire this new Quinnipiac University poll is in its assessment of how Americans view President Trump. Instead of starting by pointing out that almost two-thirds of Americans think Trump has committed crimes, I will begin by pointing out a negative bit of information that, by now, is just sort of background noise.
(We’ve included whites without a college degree on these charts because that’s a group that’s generally seen to overlap to some extent with Trump’s core base.)
So there you go. Sixty-five percent of Americans, according to this poll, think Trump is not honest. That’s a high in Quinnipiac’s polling — but the low since the end of 2017 is only 57 percent. In other words, while maybe slightly more people think he’s not honest than in the past, the distinction is subtle.
Given that most people think politicians are dishonest, he fares slightly better when compared with his peers, though half of respondents still say he’s less honest than past presidents. Only a fifth of respondents — and less than half of Republicans, say he’s more honest than past presidents.
Now we get into cringier territory. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that Trump is not a good role model for children, including more than a third of members of his own party.
That’s not really remarkable in the context of Trump but it does seem striking given the long-standing association between the presidency and, you know, the idealized goals of childhood. Any kid in the United States can grow up to be president? Sure, but it seems like most Americans might not necessarily want them to at this point.
Quinnipiac also asked respondents about the congressional testimony last week offered by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen. A plurality of Americans think Cohen told the truth in his testimony, though many Americans said they weren’t sure. That said, Cohen’s honesty is being evaluated against a pretty low bar: Trump’s. Half of respondents (including most independents) said that they were more likely to believe Cohen than Trump.
Remember: Cohen last year pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. Yet he comes across as more believable than the president.
In a boon to the Democrats’ newly robust plan to dig into Cohen’s allegations and Trump’s past behavior, most Americans (including a quarter of Republicans) thought Congress should press forward with investigating the claims made by Cohen — even as they were about split on whether those investigations would be a distraction from legislation.
But back to Cohen’s testimony. Included in his comments was a direct allegation: Trump is a “con man” and a “cheat.” He never directly called Trump a criminal but seemed to imply at times that Trump had committed crimes.
That implication appears to have resonated with observers. Nearly two-thirds of respondents — 64 percent — said they think Trump had, before becoming president, committed criminal acts.
That includes a third of Republicans.
Perhaps that impression predates Cohen’s testimony, but either way it’s not exactly a vote of confidence in the president. The good news for Trump, such as it is, is that fewer than half of respondents thought that he had committed any crimes since becoming president. (Most Democrats think he has.)
If your inclination is to read these numbers and assume they spell doom for Trump in 2020, one note of caution: Most Americans have always been more likely to say Trump is not honest than honest.
Past views of possible criminal behavior are unknown.