Poll: Americans Skeptical Over Key Trump Agenda Items, Disapprove of Trump's Handling of Transition

As the Trump transition makes Cabinet choices, new poll shows a divided public.

December 9, 2016, 6:11 PM

— -- A new poll released by the Pew Research Center today indicates that a majority of Americans oppose any loosening of environmental regulations or a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, two of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign pledges. The survey also suggests that a minority of Americans approve of Trump's picks for his Cabinet so far.

On Wednesday, Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is an outspoken critic of environmental regulations and believes the EPA has crippled the U.S. energy industry.

But 59 percent of people surveyed by Pew say stronger environmental laws and regulations are worth any potential costs to the economy.

And when it comes to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, 53 percent said they expect the ACA’s major provisions to be eliminated while 39 percent expect them to continue. Thirty-nine percent of respondents want to repeal the law all together; 15 percent favor leaving it as is; and 39 percent want to expand it.

The Pew poll highlights the significant challenges Trump faces once he takes office in January.

Americans view Trump’s Cabinet choices less favorably than previous president-elects. Only 40 percent approve of Trump’s Cabinet choices and other high level appointments. That compares to 71 percent who approved of President Obama’s Cabinet choices in December of 2008 and 58 percent who expressed positive views of George W. Bush’s appointments in January of 2001.

While the Trump transition team has moved quickly to pick Cabinet members, the process has had a flair for the dramatic, with candidates filing through the Trump Tower lobby and reports of infighting among Trump’s confidantes, most recently over the choice of secretary of State.

And there is criticism that Trump is not delivering on his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of establishment figures and insiders in Washington, D.C. Currently, his Cabinet is stacked with wealthy GOP donors and Wall Street insiders.

On Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump pushed back on criticism of his Cabinet picks.

“One newspaper criticized me, ‘Why can't they have people of modest means?’” Trump said. “Because I want people that made a fortune because now they are negotiating with you. OK?”

Americans are also concerned about Trump’s Twitter habit. Eighty-two percent of people surveyed say once Trump enters the White House he “will need to be more cautious about the kinds of things he says and tweets.” And a majority -- 54 percent -- think Trump has not done enough to distance himself from the white nationalists who supported his campaign.

Thirty-five percent of respondents think Trump will be a good or great president; 18 percent say he will be average and 38 percent say he will be poor or terrible. But when Trump was just a president candidate, 25 percent of those polled by Pew in October said he would make a good or great president, while 57 percent said he would be poor or terrible.

Pew Research Center surveyed 1,502 adults from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

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