Voters who are standing by Donald Trump, led by three-quarters of Republicans, are a defiant but shrinking minority of a national electorate that increasingly sees Trump as a failing political and moral leader, and an untrustworthy and unstable individual.
That’s the takeaway from a national poll of 1,514 people by Quinnipiac University taken after Trump’s embrace of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. The findings are a stunning indictment of a president who cannot readily be removed from office despite deep national misgivings.
“To sum up, the overwhelming majority of Americans thinks he is a lying, divisive hothead who is making race relations much worse,” Jennifer Rubin, a conservative Washington Post columnist, wrote about the survey’s findings. “Trump barely has majority support (52 percent) among his most loyal segment of the electorate (whites with no college education). He has managed to turn off just about everyone else. He knows how to feed his base red meat but not how to earn the respect and confidence of everyone else. Several thousand people in an auditorium in Phoenix [where he held a rally Tuesday], it turns out, bear little resemblance to the country as a whole.”
The fine print in Quinnipiac’s poll reveals not just a stunning indictment of a failing president, but a nation with seemingly irreconcilable divides, where a majority of voters now scorn a president and party backed by a minority of the electorate. Trump (and the GOP) holds the reins of power over a nation where majorities say he’s a disaster.
To start, only 35 percent of voters approve of him — a declining number — while 59 percent disapprove, Quinnipiac found. “Every party, gender, education, age and racial group disapproves except Republicans, who approve 77-to-14 percent; white voters with no college, approving 52-to-40 percent, and white men, who approve by a narrow 50-to-46 percent.”
Virtually everyone outside a silo of Trump supporters disapproves of the president, and Quinnipiac cites why.
“Elected on his strength as a deal-maker, but now overwhelmingly considered a divider, President Donald Trump has a big negative job approval rating and low scores on handling racial issues,” said Tim Malloy, the poll’s assistant director, in its summary.
Here are the numbers:
- Sixty percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s response to Charlottesville.
- Fifty-nine percent say his decisions and behavior have encouraged white supremacists. (Sixty-four percent say white supremacists pose a threat to the country.)
- Sixty-five percent say the level of hatred and prejudice have increased under Trump.
- Sixty-three percent disapprove of the way Trump is handling race relations.
- Sixty percent say he doesn’t care about minorities (including 52 percent of whites).
- Sixty-one percent say he is not honest.
- Sixty-one percent say he does not have good leadership skills.
- Fifty-seven percent say he does not care about average Americans.
- Sixty-eight percent say he is not level headed.
- Sixty-three percent say he does not share their values.
- Sixty-nine percent say he should stop tweeting from his personal account.
The Quinnipiac poll had some intriguing contrasts, comparing, for example, the media coverage of Trump and his hypercritical view of most media.
“American voters disapprove 55-to-40 percent of the way the news media covers Trump, and disapprove 62-to-35 percent of the way the president talks about the media,” the summary said. “Voters trust the media more than Trump 54-to-36 percent ‘to tell you the truth about important issues.’”
Another partisan comparison pitted the progressive concern of combating racial injustice with the right-wing concern of combating what it calls political correctness. “There is too much prejudice in the nation today, 55 percent of American voters say, while 40 percent say there is too much political correctness, the widest margin for prejudice since the question first was asked in June 2016,” the poll summary said.
In contrast, the percentage of voters taking pro-Trump positions, or rejecting negative characterizations, was in low-to-mid 30s. Quinnipiac’s report began, “President Donald Trump is doing more to divide the country, 62 percent of voters say, while 31 percent say he is doing more to unite the country, his worst score on this question.”
"The Quinnipiac poll confirms that most Americans haven’t lost their minds or their consciences,” WaPo’s Rubin writes. “Trump cannot operate off script without losing his cool and revealing his ignorance; his moments of restraint never last long. When he reads other people’s words and expresses sentiments not his own his delivery is flat and stilted. Only when he is in full rage-mode does he become animated. He must distract and attack lest the focus fall on him and his lack of accomplishments.”
She concludes, “Don’t expect him to improve. Failure begets more rage, which begets greater rejection by the public. It would be pathetic if it were not petrifying.”
Where does Quinnipiac’s national snapshot and analyses like Rubin’s leave the country? Speaking broadly, in volatile, uncharted waters. More concretely, the U.S. is led by a president and a party that does not have the support of a majority of Americans. And there’s no quick way to remedy this situation, as Trump’s supporters circle their proverbial wagons while the rest of America looks on with disgust and disappointment.