President Donald Trump has taken on the courts. He’s feuded with the intelligence community. He’s lambasted the news media. But voters have more confidence in the courts and the intelligence community than they have in the president, a new poll found, and trust in the never-popular media rivals faith in the president.
Less than 2 out of 5 people, 37 percent, reported that they have a good or high amount of trust in the administration, according to the McClatchy-Marist poll. The number was slightly lower for the news media, 34 percent.
But 62 percent of voters have a great deal or a good amount of trust in the court system and an equal amount for the intelligence community.
It’s not that the media changed. It’s that people’s feelings about him changed.
Lee Miringoff, Marist Institute for Public Opinion
Not surprisingly, the administration gets higher marks among Republicans and supporters while the media get even lower numbers. But Republican trust of the administration has dropped over the last several weeks in comparison with people’s favored news sources as the administration has struggled with a series of political and legal pitfalls.
“It’s not shocking that Congress, public opinion polls and the media and the Trump administration are all kind of low,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide survey. “But what I think is the more significant thing is when we looked at Donald Trump compared to favorite news service, the drop in Republican support is very, very alarming for him as a statistic.”
Last month, 70 percent of Republicans said they trusted Trump more than their favorite news service, versus 28 percent who said they trusted their favorite news site more. A month later, the percentage of Republicans who say they trust Trump more had dropped to 48, while 43 percent said they had more trust in their favorite news service.
It’s been a difficult last few weeks for the administration. In addition to a failed effort to repeal Obamacare, Trump’s executive orders calling for a temporary ban on migrants from some Muslim-majority nations was blocked a second time in the courts and the administration continued to face probing questions about possible connections with Russia.
Trump blasted the judges who’d blocked his immigration orders, calling them politically motivated, and he accused the intelligence community of trying to undermine his presidency with leaks of his administration’s contacts with Russian officials. But public support for the two institutions remains strong, even among Trump supporters.
Nearly 60 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Trump supporters trust the intelligence community, which includes the CIA and FBI. Sixty percent of both Republicans and Trump supporters say they trust the courts.
And Republicans still trust Trump even more than they do the courts and intelligence agencies. Seventy-five percent of Republicans and 83 percent of Trump supporters have a great deal or a good amount of trust in the Trump administration.
Phillip Benner, 71, a longtime Republican who recently registered as an independent, said it was difficult to find anyone not influenced by politics these days. But he admits he trusts his favorite news site, The Economist, more than Trump. Yet he also thinks Trump deserves more time to fulfill some of his campaign promises. He just thinks the president could be more humble.
“I’d like to see him admit mistakes once in a while,” said Benner of The Villages, Florida. “Everyone makes mistakes, but he never admits one. He always comes up with some sort of spin on it. If something doesn’t work out, he never takes responsibility for it. If he did that once in a while that would definitely help.”
Miringoff said a continuing drop in Trump’s trust levels could prove problematic for the administration. Falling support among his base will make it harder for him to use his leverage with the Freedom Caucus and other conservative groups.
“It’s not that the media changed,” said Miringoff said. “It’s that people’s feelings about him changed. You still have your favorite news source. You didn’t come up with a new one.”