Poll: President Trump is a successful businessman, according to a majority of voters

The poll comes after recent a report that revealed Trump's businesses lost more than $1 billion in a decade

Published May 15, 2019 4:01PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Fabrice Coffrini)
(Getty/Fabrice Coffrini)

President Donald Trump is a successful businessman, according to a majority of registered voters, despite recent news reports that he lost more than $1 billion in the span of a decade.

The news was revealed in a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday. About 54 percent of respondents said they believe the president has been successful in business, while 36% say he has been unsuccessful. Another 10% have no opinion about his success.

The results are starkly divided along partisan lines, with 85% of Republicans voters saying Trump has been successful, while only 10% say he's been unsuccessful. Democratic voters view Trump's business career differently: 30% said he has been successful, while 61% say he has been unsuccessful. Among independents, 49% said Trump is a successful businessman, while 34% said he has been unsuccessful.

The poll was conducted after The New York Times revealed last week in a bombshell report that Trump's businesses lost nearly $1.2 billion between 1985 and 1994, citing IRS documents.

The newspaper showed the former real estate mogul appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual U.S. taxpayer year after year over the decade after comparing his information with other top earners.

Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years, according to The Times. The only two years in the 10-year period when he paid income taxes were 1987 and 1988. In both of those years he paid the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to keep wealthy taxpayers from using loopholes and deductions to avoid paying taxes. It is unclear if the IRS required Trump to make changes after audits.

The president called the article "a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job" and claimed such losses were common among real estate developers at the time.

When the poll's respondents were provided information from the article about Trump's business history, 43% said he has been successful and 41% said he has been unsuccessful.

The Times' report was striking given Trump ran for president as a self-made billionaire and real estate tycoon of unfathomable success, claiming, "I built what I built myself, and I did it by working long hours and working hard and working smart."

While Trump has been steadfast in touting his financial success, he has been reluctant to release his tax returns to the public, despite mounting pressure from Congress.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday suggested a request from the House Ways and Means Committee to provide six years of Trump's tax returns — a period not covered by the documents reported by the Times — is headed for the courts.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., made a formal request for Trump's personal and business tax returns last month, which the Treasury Department rejected last week, prompting Neal to issue a subpoena for the documents last Friday. He is likely to sue in federal court to enforce the subpoena.

Democrats have been on a quest to obtain Trump's tax returns since he bucked decades of tradition when he refused to release them during the 2016 election cycle. Although not required by law, every major party presidential nominee since the 1970s has chosen to publicly release his or her tax returns except for Gerald Ford, who only released a summary. Financial disclosures can help paint a fuller picture of a candidate's business positions and interests by providing information about financial dealings, such as investments, donations, business relationships, assets and possible conflicts of interests.

Trump has made clear he does not want to turn over his tax returns, claiming he cannot disclose them since he is being audited by the IRS — even though an audit does not prevent a taxpayer from releasing his or her own tax documents. The administration has indicated it plans to continue to fight congressional requests for information about the president's finances.

Democrats have requested Trump's returns as part of their wide-ranging investigations into potential conflicts of interests posed by his business dealings. Republicans, meanwhile, have criticized the request as merely a pretext for a political attack.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult survey was conducted between May 10 and May 12 among 1,995 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

By Shira Tarlo

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