Trump’s National Emergency Policy Is Unpopular, But Not Really Unpopular

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to build more physical barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border was generally unpopular, but polls suggest the move has very high support among Republicans. That dynamic could be important as Trump seeks to overcome challenges to his new policy both on Capitol Hill and in the courts.

Two polls conducted entirely after the emergency declaration show a majority of Americans don’t like it: An NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll that came out Tuesday showed a 61-36 split against Trump’s policy, and a Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Wednesday found 39 percent in support, 51 percent opposed. A HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted the day before and the day of the emergency declaration found similar results — 37 percent of Americans said they approved of the move, compared with 55 percent who disapproved.

These numbers don’t surprise me — they generally mirror Trump’s overall job approval ratings. For much of the past two years, around 40 percent of Americans have approved of the president’s performance, while a clear majority has disapproved. Similarly, overall support for the national emergency declaration is in the upper 30s in the polls we have so far. That’s because Republicans have lined up solidly behind it, according to both polls conducted after the declaration was made — the NPR poll found 85 percent support within the GOP, and the Morning Consult survey found 77 percent support. The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 84 percent of Trump voters supported the declaration, although that poll was already underway when the declaration was made, so some respondents were asked about the move before it became official while others were asked after the announcement.

It’s not surprising that large numbers of Republicans supported Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency — GOP voters overwhelmingly approve of him. But high party support for a Trump policy is not always a given. For example, the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border was significantly more unpopular within the party than the emergency declaration is — a FiveThirtyEight average of polls found that only about half of Republicans were on board with the separations. And while a majority of Republicans supported both the failed 2017 health care bill meant to replace Obamacare (67 percent) and the GOP tax plan passed the same year (64 percent), they did so at rates 10 to 20 points lower than we’re seeing on the national emergency policy.

Being backed only by Republican voters still isn’t great for the president. His base alone likely won’t be sufficient to win re-election. But in terms of policy, Trump tends to reverse himself only if there is a breadth of opposition that encompasses more than just Democrats and independents. That kind of opposition tends to create a feedback loop that’s hard to ignore — so, for example, the media criticizes something Trump does or says, establishment Republicans join in, and then the media prominently features those GOP critics in its coverage. Some Republican elected officials were initially wary of Trump declaring a national emergency, but I wonder if they will reconsider that posture after seeing these polls. And with few prominent Republicans willing to cast the national emergency policy as an “extraordinary violation of constitutional norms,” as The New York Times described it last week, I suspect the media will feel pressured to cover this debate as a traditional partisan dispute and so will back off from sharper condemnations of Trump.

Like the media, the courts are sometimes hesitant to take strong stands on partisan disputes. So they may be more reluctant to strike down Trump’s policy than they would be if it had gotten more of a mixed reaction from both sides of the aisle.

But the biggest reason these polls matter is they can affect what happens on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week that the House will likely hold a vote to overturn the emergency declaration. If such a measure passed both houses of Congress but was vetoed by Trump, Congress would need a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override the veto. That would require 53 Republicans in the House and 20 in the Senate to break with the president. I thought that was unlikely even before these polls came out. Now, seeing almost universal support for Trump’s declaration among Republican voters, it’s even harder to imagine a large bloc of Republicans in Congress breaking with the president, which means this policy is likely to survive.

Other polling nuggets

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced whether he will enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race, leads in South Carolina with 36 percent of the vote, according to a new Change Research survey that was provided to the Palmetto State-based Post and Courier newspaper. Also in double digits were Bernie Sanders (14 percent), Kamala Harris (13 percent) and Cory Booker (10 percent). Twelve other Democrats who either have officially entered the race or are rumored to be considering presidential runs were in single digits.
  • Biden is also ahead in New Hampshire, with 28 percent of the vote, according to a University of Massachusetts, Amherst, poll. Sanders is in second place with 20 percent, and Harris is in third with 14 percent. Seven other Democrats that were included in the survey are in single digits.
  • An average of 54 percent of white Democrats identified as politically “liberal” during the six-year period from 2013 to 2018, according to data released by Gallup this week. That compares with 38 percent of Latino Democrats and 33 percent of black Democrats. There was also variation by education level — Democrats with postgraduate degrees were the most likely to describe themselves as liberal (65 percent), followed by Democrats with undergraduate degrees (58 percent), those who attended college but don’t have degrees (45 percent) and those with high school educations or less (32 percent).
  • The same Gallup survey found major differences among liberal and conservative Democrats on a few issues: 81 percent of liberal Democrats think marijuana should be legal, for example, compared with 44 percent of conservative Democrats. Sixty-four percent of liberal Democrats oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder, compared with 39 percent of conservative Democrats.
  • 45 percent of Democrats said they would be somewhat or very unhappy if their son or daughter married a supporter of the Republican Party, according to a PPRI/Atlantic survey released this week. Thirty-five percent of Republicans said they would be unhappy if their child married a Democrat. Higher shares of Republicans were concerned about their child marrying someone of the same gender (58 percent unhappy) or someone who identified as transgender (70 percent).
  • More than 60 percent of Americans said that the government should pursue policies to reduce the wealth gap and that they support a 2 percent tax on wealth above $50 million, according to a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey that was published by The New York Times this week. Opinion is more divided (51 percent support, 45 percent oppose) on a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on income above $10 million a year.
  • Just 17 percent of Virginians said they approved of the job performance of the state’s embattled governor, Ralph Northam (who has denied that he was in a racist photo on his page in his medical school yearbook but has admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s), according to an Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics survey released this week. Thirty-four percent said they disapproved of Northam, while 44 percent said they neither approved nor disapproved. The good news for Northam is that only 31 percent of Virginians said they think he should resign, compared with 43 percent who said they don’t think he should resign. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault, has a slightly worse standing — 35 percent of Virginia residents said they think he should resign, while 25 percent said that he shouldn’t. (The other 40 percent are in neither camp.)
  • A new Quinnipiac University survey of Virginia voters found better job approval numbers for Northam (39 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove). And in this poll too, a plurality (48 percent) of Virginians said he shouldn’t resign.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.2 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.7 points). At this time last week, 41.5 percent approved and 54.1 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 40.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 55.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -15.3 points.


From ABC News:


Independents Trust Mueller, Which Could Be Bad News For Trump

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

A new survey has found that most Americans trust special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election — although opinion is sharply split along partisan lines. Yet Mueller still receives higher marks than 1990s independent counsel Ken Starr, who faced a similar partisan divide. If party loyalty hasn’t changed in the past 20 years, what has? The views of independent voters.

According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released this week, 51 percent of adults approve of the way Mueller is handling the investigation, while 34 percent disapprove. Similarly, 57 percent think Mueller is mostly interested in uncovering the truth, while 36 percent think he’s out to hurt President Trump politically. By contrast, a majority of Americans thought Starr was mainly interested in hurting then-President Bill Clinton politically in the Whitewater investigation.

During both the Starr and Mueller probes, members of the president’s party were convinced that the investigators had the knives out for their president, and members of the opposition party believed the investigators had noble intentions. Since the partisan divides are similar in both cases, independent voters are the main drivers behind the difference in overall public opinion. In 1998, as the Whitewater investigation was wrapping up, 59 percent of independents told the Post that they thought Starr’s investigation was politically motivated. This year, 57 percent said they have faith in Mueller.

The poll also suggests that independents may be the deciding factor in whether the public supports Trump’s impeachment, if it comes to that. Per the Post poll, if Mueller’s report finds that Trump obstructed justice by trying to undermine the Russia investigation, Americans believe — 65 percent to 29 percent — that Congress should impeach Trump and try to remove him from office.8 And if the report concludes that Trump authorized his campaign staff to collude with Russia, Americans support impeachment and attempted removal by a similar margin: 61 percent to 33 percent.

Those numbers may seem surprisingly high. But impeachment is a political process and, quite frankly, a partisan one. According to this poll and many others, most Democrats already support beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump — so right off that bat, that’s a sizable chunk of the country in favor. And this poll added a conditional to its question: “If Mueller’s report concludes….” Since independents mostly see Mueller as a fair judge, it makes sense that most of them would support impeachment if Mueller finds grounds for it. And indeed they do, at least in this poll: 61 percent support impeachment if Trump approved coordination with the Russian government, and 68 percent support impeachment if he obstructed justice.

By contrast, independents were not on board with attempts to remove Clinton from office, even after Starr’s report recommended impeachment. A Post/ABC News poll from December 1998 found that three out of four independents said that Clinton should not be removed from office. Most Republicans wanted Clinton removed, while most Democrats wanted him to stay put. Overall, support for removal sat at just 33 percent.

A key difference may have been that Americans, especially independents, were not convinced that Starr had proved his case. The public widely believed that the inclusion of explicit sexual details in the Starr report was inappropriate, and, as previously mentioned, independents did not believe Starr was conducting an impartial investigation. It’s possible that, if the Mueller report is publicly released, people will find his conclusions similarly lacking. But the questions from this week’s poll suggest that the public would believe Mueller if he concludes Trump committed a crime. Of course, that’s a big if; should Mueller stop short of such a declaration, it’s a safe bet that support for impeachment would not be in the 60s.

Other polling nuggets

  • According to another Washington Post-Schar School poll, 47 percent of Virginians think their governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, should resign in the wake of the revelation that there is a racist photo on his page in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Another 47 percent said Northam should remain in office. Northam originally apologized and said he was one of the people in the photo (which features one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe). But Northam reversed himself the next day. He currently maintains he was not in the photo but has admitted to wearing blackface on a different occasion.
  • A poll conducted for The New York Times Upshot by Morning Consult found that 5 percent of U.S. adults admitted to wearing blackface at some point in their lives. Twenty percent said they’d seen someone wearing blackface.
  • According to a different Morning Consult survey, for Politico, Republicans are more willing than Democrats to vote for a politician from their own party who has been accused of either wearing blackface or committing sexual misconduct. However, committing tax fraud and misusing taxpayer dollars, among some other scandals, were about equally likely to be deal-breakers for members of both parties.
  • According to a survey by HuffPost/YouGov, 42 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is too extreme. Forty percent think the Republican Party is too extreme. But in both cases, those people tend to be members of the opposite party; only 12 percent of members of each party find their own party too extreme. And only 11 percent of Americans think both parties are too extreme.
  • ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX found that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the most popular Supreme Court justice, based on the share of registered voters who say they have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable view of her (43 percent). Brett Kavanaugh is the best-known justice — only 9 percent of respondents have never heard of him — but that fame comes at a cost: He also has the highest unfavorable rating of any justice, with 34 percent viewing him in a negative light. Stephen Breyer has the lowest name recognition of any justice; 32 percent said they’ve never heard of him.
  • Amazon has canceled its plan to build a headquarters in New York City in the face of opposition from residents and some politicians. However, a Siena College poll of registered voters in New York state that was released before Thursday’s announcement found that 56 percent approved of the package of tax incentives that New York used to lure the company, while 36 percent disapproved. In New York City alone, 58 percent approved and 35 percent disapproved.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.5 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 54.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -12.6 points). At this time last week, 40.1 percent approved and 55.3 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -15.2 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 40.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.4 percent, for a net approval rating of -13.7 points.


From ABC News:


Almost Half Of Voters Are Dead Set Against Voting For Trump

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

With the 2020 election cycle revving into full gear, pollsters are asking voters whether they plan to vote for President Trump. In a Washington Post/ABC News survey, respondents were asked if they would definitely vote for the president, consider voting for him or definitely not vote for him — and 56 percent said they would definitely not vote for him. Morning Consult posed a slightly different form of this question, asking voters if they’d definitely or probably vote for Trump, or if they’d definitely or probably vote for someone else. Eight percent said they would probably vote for someone else, but 47 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else. In total, that’s 55 percent of respondents who seemed unlikely to vote for Trump.

All told, this isn’t that different from the number of Americans who were planning not to back then-President Barack Obama in the early stages of his re-election bid: 51 percent said they “definitely” or “probably” would not vote for the incumbent, according to one poll conducted at a similar point in the 2012 cycle. But there is a key difference: The share of voters who said they would “definitely” oppose Trump is much higher than it ever was for Obama. In fact, the average share of voters who said they would “definitely” oppose Trump is roughly 10 points higher than it was for Obama more than 600 days out from the election, which is where we are now.7

Now, the share of Americans who said they definitely wouldn’t vote for Obama did increase as the election got closer, but it only it only hit 40 percent or higher in two polls in our data set, which runs through about 250 days before the election.8 With Trump, on the other hand, close to 50 percent of Americans have already said they definitely wouldn’t vote for him even though we’re still more than 600 days away from the election. Yes, the combined percentage of Americans who said they definitely wouldn’t and probably wouldn’t vote for Obama cracked 50 percent on several occasions — though Obama won 51 percent of the popular vote in 2012, so he probably changed at least a few minds before Election Day — but the percentage who said they definitely wouldn’t vote for Obama was never higher than 42 percent in a single poll, whereas Trump’s number is currently about 48 percent, based on an average of the three most recent polls. Trump also has about half as many voters in the more persuadable “probably” camp, which suggests he has less wiggle room than Obama did.

With combined opposition in the mid-50s, including more voters seemingly dead set against him than felt the same about Obama, Trump may have a lower ceiling of potential support than Obama did in 2012. Trump only narrowly won in 2016 while losing the popular vote, so once again he may have little room for error.

Other polling nuggets

  • The partial government shutdown that started Dec. 22 came to an end last week after Trump agreed to sign a bill funding the government for three weeks without the money he had requested for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. But while Trump is still hoping that Congress will fund his proposal, another shutdown remains unpopular. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, only 31 percent of voters said they would “strongly” or “somewhat” support another government shutdown over the wall funding. Fifty-nine percent of voters said they were “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed.
  • If Trump and congressional Democrats fail to come to a border security agreement in the next couple of weeks, 48 percent of Americans said in a Monmouth University poll that the parties should agree to fund the government through the end of the year without a deal. Twenty percent said they should shut down the government until a deal is reached, and 26 percent said they should extend the temporary funding and keep negotiating. Asked about the idea of Trump’s declaring a national emergency to build the wall, 64 percent of respondents said they disapproved, while 34 percent said they approved.
  • An AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs research poll found that 63 percent of Americans disapprove of how Trump has handled U.S. foreign policy while 35 percent approve. The poll also found that Americans were split on Trump’s decision to remove 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria — 39 percent of respondents said they approved, while 35 percent said they disapproved.
  • When asked about what types of issues would make them more or less likely to support a candidate in the 2020 presidential election, 57 percent of Democrats told Politico/Morning Consult said they would be “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to support a candidate who backs “Medicare-for-all” (“where all Americans would get their health insurance from the government”) over improving the Affordable Care Act.
  • In that same Politico/Morning Consult poll, Democrats were split on whether they supported more immigrants coming to the U.S. — 31 percent of respondents said they would be “much” or “somewhat” less likely to support a candidate with this stance, while another 31 percent said they would be “much” or “somewhat” more likely to support such a candidate. Meanwhile, only 25 percent of Democratic voters said they would be “much” or “somewhat” more likely to back a candidate who supported abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
  • The Glengariff Group tested some hypothetical 2020 presidential matchups in Michigan, which Trump carried by just 0.2 points in 2016. The poll found potential Democratic nominees with more support than Trump: Joe Biden (53 percent to 40 percent), Kamala Harris (47 percent to 42 percent), Bernie Sanders (52 percent to 41 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (46 percent to 43 percent).
  • A Quinnipiac University poll found that 70 percent of voters believe transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military and that 22 percent were opposed. Among Republicans, that divide was 40 percent to 50 percent; among Democrats, it was 94 percent to 3 percent. Trump has sought to ban transgender people from serving, although the policy remains hung up in the courts.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 39.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 55.9 percent disapprove (for a net approval rating of -16.4 points). That’s essentially the same as a week ago, when 39.5 percent of Americans approved of the president and 55.8 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -16.3 points). Trump’s net approval rating has dropped significantly from a month ago, when it was -11.9 (approval rating of 41.5 percent, disapproval rating of 53.4 percent).

 

Biden’s Leading The Iowa Polls, But That Doesn’t Mean Much Yet

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

With the 2018 midterms (mostly) behind us, focus has shifted to the 2020 presidential election. The Iowa caucuses are usually the start of the presidential nomination process, and as of right now, they’re scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020 — just over 400 days from now. While we’re still more than a year out, two new polls found former Vice President Joe Biden in the lead in the race for the Democratic nomination. At least 30 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers in Iowa listed him as their top choice for president.

The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll from Selzer & Co.14 found Biden at 32 percent while a survey from David Binder Research on behalf of Focus on Rural America found Biden at 30 percent.15 In both polls, no other candidate cracked 20 percent. In an even earlier poll Biden led the field with 37 percent listing him as their No. 1 pick.16

Even though we’re still a ways from the caucus, these numbers could be read as a good sign for Biden. In the last four presidential elections where there was no Democratic incumbent running, the Iowa caucus winner went on to become the party’s nominee: Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Moreover, Biden has never polled this well in Iowa. In both his 1988 and 2008 presidential bids, Biden failed to hit the double-digits, and even when it seemed possible that Biden might run in 2016, his best Iowa marks were in the low 20s against Clinton and Sanders.

A good poll in Iowa doesn’t mean much … yet

Presidential aspirants that polled 30 percent or more at least one year prior to the Iowa caucuses

Year Party Candidate No. of Polls ≥30% Best poll result Iowa result Nom.?
1984 D Walter Mondale 1 58% 1st Yes
1988 D Gary Hart 2 59 7th No
1988 R Bob Dole 1 33 1st No
2004 D Al Gore 1 39 Didn’t run
2008 D Hillary Clinton 1 31 3rd No
2008 D John Edwards 2 36 2nd No
2008 R Rudy Giuliani 1 30 6th No
2016 D Hillary Clinton 1 48 1st Yes
2020 D Joe Biden 3 37 ? ?

Sources: Dave Leip, DES MOINES REGISTER