President Donald Trump moves out of his difficult Charlottesville week and into his national address on Afghanistan policy tonight with a poor but stable job performance rating and still-weaker grades for his handling of the neo-Nazi-fueled unrest – with vast gaps across groups.
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Additionally, 9 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, equivalent to about 22 million Americans. A similar number, 10 percent, say they support the so-called alt-right movement, while 50 percent oppose it.
Trump’s overall job rating in the national survey, 37-58 percent, approve-disapprove, is virtually identical to its level in an ABC/Post poll July 13 (the lowest on record for a president at six months). Approval of his response to Charlottesville, Virginia, drops to 28 percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, with similar disapproval (56 percent).
Intensity is against Trump by 2-1: Forty-five percent of Americans strongly disapprove of his job performance, vs. 22 percent who strongly approve. That’s a career low for Trump in strong approval, down 5 points since April, with sizable declines in some of his core groups: among strong conservatives (-11 percentage points), Republicans (-11) and whites (-9).
Trump’s overall job rating is 6 to 14 points lower than Barack Obama’s in polls by Gallup just ahead of his six televised addresses on Afghanistan, in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Strength of sentiment is similarly negative for Trump on Charlottesville and, notably, his lower approval rating for handling this issue occurs in his base. Compared with his overall job performance, approval of his response to Charlottesville is 18 points lower among Republicans and 13 points lower among conservatives.
Only about one-third of Americans reject the suggestion that Trump has been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those who oppose them. That said, there’s division and uncertainty on the question: Forty-two percent say he’s been doing this, while 35 percent think not and 23 percent have no opinion.
Additionally, those most familiar with Charlottesville (those who’ve seen, read or heard a great deal about it, 43 percent of all adults) are most critical of Trump. Disapproval of his response spikes to 66 percent in this group, and 53 percent say he’s been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with their opponents. That said, it’s members of groups more critical of Trump who’ve been paying the closest attention to the controversy.
As noted, 9 percent overall call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, while 83 percent call this unacceptable, leaving 8 percent with no opinion. Seventy-two percent feel strongly that it’s unacceptable.
Also related to the Charlottesville controversy, 10 percent say they support the “alt-right” movement, while 50 percent oppose it; indicating wide unfamiliarity, four in 10 have no opinion. Further, about four in 10 think the “alt-right” holds neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, nearly twice as many who say it does not (39 vs. 21 percent); again, four in 10 can’t say. (Fifty-seven percent of Democrats think this is so, vs. 19 percent of Republicans.)
Divisions among groups are profound. Perhaps most notable is the gender gap in Trump’s overall approval rating, 46 percent among men vs. 28 percent among women. At 18 percentage points this is not only the widest of his presidency, but wider than the largest gender gaps recorded for either of his two predecessors. The gender gap in terms of his response to Charlottesville is similar.
Trump has 44 percent overall approval among whites vs. 22 percent among nonwhites, including just 11 percent among blacks. On Charlottesville the pattern also is similar – 35 percent approval from whites, 14 percent among nonwhites and a single-digit 8 percent among blacks.
Age gaps are broad, with Trump’s approval overall ranging from 47 percent among adults age 50 and up to 22 percent among those younger than 30. On Charlottesville, it’s 37 vs. 15 percent in these two age brackets.
The sharpest gaps, as ever in the political climate of the past decade or more, are political and ideological. Trump’s approval rating overall drops from 80 percent among Republicans to 34 percent among independents and 12 percent among Democrats; it’s 67-27-16 percent moving from conservatives to moderates to liberals. The range is from 87 percent approval among conservative Republicans to 10 percent among liberal Democrats. Each group represents about one in seven Americans.
On Charlottesville, again, the patterns are similar, while lower across the board. Sixty-two percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s response; this plummets to 28 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats. It’s 54-20-8 percent from conservatives to moderates to liberals. And 72 percent of conservative Republicans approve of Trump’s response; across the political chasm, 3 percent of liberal Democrats agree.
There’s far more agreement on whether it’s acceptable or unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. Across groups, 4 to 17 percent call this acceptable, with the largest numbers among men, Republicans and strong conservatives, all 13 percent; young adults, 14 percent; and those who strongly approve of the president’s work in office, 17 percent.
An additional 13 percent of strong Trump supporters have no opinion on whether it’s acceptable or not. That leaves 70 percent of his strong supporters who call neo-Nazi or white supremacist views unacceptable, compared with 92 percent of his strong opponents.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 16-20, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,014 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-22-42 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.