Nearly two-thirds of Americans find President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is reckless and distracting, according to a new nationwide McClatchy-Marist poll.
The poll found 65 percent of registered voters nationwide disapproved of Trump’s tweeting, while 25 percent found it effective and informative.
And despite Trump’s frequent blasts at the media, which he terms the enemy, the poll found that most voters trust their favorite news source over Trump, by a margin of 67 percent to 29 percent.
The findings suggest that Trump has a credibility problem, said Lee Miringoff of the McClatchy-Marist Poll.
“Typically Presidents either enjoy a honeymoon or they reach out beyond their base,” Miringoff said. “This has been an administration that despite not winning the popular vote has put the pedal to the floor and has pushed as quickly and as hard as they can with limited public support behind it. Their actions and style suggest a huge mandate which wasn’t there in the vote.”
Only 18 percent of voters said they trust Trump and his administration “a great deal” to deliver accurate and factual information to the public. Forty percent said they don’t trust the president at all, and 17 percent don’t trust him very much.
Among Democrats, 61 percent distrust Trump completely. Among independents, 45 percent don’t trust him at all.
It’s not surprising that the administration is leaving a trail of bad numbers, both in terms of Trump’s approval ratings, but also in communications, Mirigoff said.
“He’s using political capital with the public that he hasn’t really invested and developed,” he said.
Keith Williston, a 38-year-old from Independence, Missouri, is among the 29 percent of Republican voters surveyed who thought Trump’s communication through Twitter was irresponsible.
“Somebody should take that away from him,” he said of Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump. “I think he should give it up.”
In Williston’s opinion, anyone who holds elected office higher than a city alderman should not have easy access to a Twitter account, and that goes for the president, too.
“It’s too easy to tweet something that five minutes later you get another piece of information and you realize you said something stupid,” he said. “But the psychological pressure is to double down.”
The McClatchy-Marist poll asked voters whether they think Trump is too tough on the media or the media is too hard on Trump. Thirty-eight percent of voters said the media is too hard on Trump, compared to 45 percent who think Trump is too hard on the media.
“I think with him it’s just an ego thing,” said Dannette Tucker, a 37-year-old independent voter from San Jose, California. “He doesn’t like to be talked about poorly” by the media.
Trump’s quarrel with the media is a distraction from what he’s expected to do, which is run the country, said Cora Wright, 81, a registered Republican from Olathe, Kansas, who voted Democratic. “He just does that because he doesn’t have a handle on how to run the country and it’s just a distraction. And I wish he’d stop it.”
Wright was particularly disturbed by Trump’s recent tweet naming CNN and several other media organizations as “enemies of the people.”
“Everyone who disagrees with him even in a small way is supposed to be just really terrible,” she said. “And it’s a concern to me because he focuses on himself like that and on his personal grudges.”
The Trump administration’s treatment of the media as “the opposition party” plays well with Republicans and the president’s core supporters, but it’s a risky strategy, said pollster Miringoff.
Forty-three percent of Trump supporters said Trump and his administration have not been tough enough on the media. Yet 66 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents said Trump has been too tough.
“It’s very risky because they’re banking on the fact that the media as a group is unpopular, which tends to be true, but people are not liking the tone that’s coming out of the administration,” Miringoff said. They’re rallying the base, which is fine, except the base is not large enough.”
By not reaching out beyond the base the Trump administration is pushing away Democrats and independents, Miringoff said.
“This is definitely not a big tent approach,” he said.
How the Survey was Conducted
This survey of 1,073 adults was conducted Feb. 15-19, 2017 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 865 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.3 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.