Politics & Government

Trump approval down in ‘places that matter most’

President Donald Trump’s approval is down in key areas.
President Donald Trump’s approval is down in key areas. AP

President Donald Trump’s job approval has ticked even lower amid a chaotic week of revelations tied to Russia, a Monmouth University Poll found Thursday.

Trump’s approval rating stands at 39 percent following a dizzying 10 days in which the president fired FBI Director James Comey, and news reports revealed that Trump disclosed classified intelligence information to Russia and that Trump asked Comey to drop his investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia during the election. Trump’s disapproval rating is 53 percent.

Half of the U.S. public is concerned Trump is too friendly with Russia, which has conflicting interests with the the U.S. in multiple global arenas, including Syria. Forty-five percent is not concerned about the president’s relationship with Moscow.

The president saw his biggest drop in both approval and disapproval in swing counties, defined as places in which he won November’s election by single digits. In those 300 counties, only 34 percent approve of the president, down from 41 percent in March. Fifty-four percent disapprove of him now, while only 46 percent did in March. This could spell trouble for Republicans, who have thus far hesitated to denounce the president outright.

“Trump has been losing support in the places that matter most,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Republican-led congressional investigations into Trump’s ties with Russia have been marred by partisan bickering. Multiple public hearings have seen Republicans focused on leaks coming out of the administration rather than any potential wrongdoing by Trump’s team related to Russia. But members from both parties praised Wednesday’s announcement that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named a special counsel to lead the Department of Justice’s investigation of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The future of that investigation was questioned when Trump dismissed Comey last week, and the New York Times reported Tuesday that the president had asked the former FBI director to halt the agency’s investigation into Russia ties in a private meeting.

Yet most of this noise has so far been mostly contained to political and media circles in Washington, with Americans in the rest of the country paying far less attention to the at times near-hourly developments. Murray said American ambivalence towards Trump’s relationship with Russia may be “evaporating” in light of a Washington Post report Monday that Trump shared highly classified information about an Islamic State group plot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an Oval Office meeting last week. The intelligence was collected and shared with the U.S. by a third country, reportedly Israel, and Trump’s revelation may have endangered that intelligence-gathering effort.

The president’s die-hard supporters have yet to abandon him amid the scandals, with the president’s approval rating in counties where he won by 10 points or more dropping only slightly. Today, 51 percent of people approve of him in those 2,500 counties, while 55 percent did in March.

The poll was conducted over a period of several days during which numerous major stories broke, creating a challenge for pollsters in accurately capturing the nation’s opinions of Trump and Russia.

“It’s getting very difficult to write topical poll questions when the lead stories are displaced in a matter of hours. We could write an entirely new survey script every day,” said Murray.