Disapproval of Donald Trump is at a new high, support for the Mueller investigation is broad and half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll favor Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against the president.
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Sixty percent in the national survey disapprove of Trump’s performance in office, numerically the highest of his presidency, albeit by a single point; that includes 53 percent who disapprove strongly, more than half for the first time. Thirty-six percent approve, matching his low.
The results come a week after Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of fraud, and his former longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including illegal campaign finance actions that he said Trump directed.
Trump’s average approval rating since taking office is the lowest for any president in modern polling since the 1940s. One factor: Contrary to his “drain the swamp” rhetoric, 45 percent say corruption in Washington has increased under Trump, while just 13 percent say it’s declined.
Suspicions of the president relating to the Mueller investigation are substantial. Sixty-one percent say that if assertions by Cohen are true, Trump broke the law. Fifty-three percent also think Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller’s work.
The national survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that half the public supports Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump, 49-46 percent; support rises to 57 percent among women. And support for the investigation running its course is broader: Americans overall back Mueller’s probe by 63-29 percent. Fifty-two percent support it strongly, a high level of strong sentiment.
Mueller prosecuted Manafort and referred the Cohen case to federal prosecutors in New York. Support for Mueller’s investigation peaks at 85 percent among Democrats, but also takes in 67 percent of independents and even a third of Republicans (32 percent). Forty-one percent of conservatives back Mueller, rising to more than seven in 10 moderates and liberals.
In Trump’s dispute with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for allowing the investigation to proceed, the public sides with Sessions, 62-23 percent. Sixty-four percent also oppose the idea of Trump firing Sessions; just 19 percent support it.
Further, while Trump has railed against the Manafort prosecution, Americans call it justified by an overwhelming 67-17 percent, including nearly half of Republicans. The public opposes Trump pardoning Manafort by essentially the same margin, 66-18 percent, with 53 percent strongly opposed. Even among Republicans, 45 percent oppose a Manafort pardon; 36 percent support it.
The damage to Trump on these ethics concerns overwhelms his better rating for handling the economy, an essentially even split, 45-47 percent. That demonstrates that a good economy only makes it possible for a president to be popular – it’s no guarantee.
The president’s approval rating is highly partisan, but with relative challenges for Trump across the board. His job rating matches his low among Republicans (78 percent approve) and Democrats (6 percent) alike. It’s 35 percent among independents.
He’s at new lows among college-educated Americans (albeit just by a point; 29 percent approve), moderates (24 percent) and blacks (3 percent, with a nearly unanimous 93 percent disapproving).
The single biggest shift is among college-educated white women – just 23 percent now approve of Trump, down 17 points from the peak in April 2017, with disapproval up 20 points, from 55 percent then to 75 percent now. Still, even among non-college white men, a core Trump group, his approval is down 15 points, from 70 percent just this spring to 55 percent today.
Other Group Results
Trump’s approval rating is 12 points lower among women than men, and that gender gap is reflected elsewhere. As noted, 57 percent of women favor Congress initiating impeachment proceedings; that drops to 40 percent of men.
Seventy percent of liberals support impeachment proceedings, declining to 51 percent of moderates and 30 percent of conservatives. Impeachment support is highest, a vast 80 percent, among blacks; 37 percent of whites agree.
Some of these gaps narrow on whether or not the charges against Manafort were justified. Two-thirds of men and women alike say they were, as do two-thirds of whites – including 64 percent of white men without college degrees. Even among Republicans, conservatives and those who approve of Trump’s work in office, more see the charges as justified than as unjustified, by 48-28, 49-30 and 47-29 percent, respectively. (The rest express no opinion.)
As noted, 45 percent of Republicans oppose Trump pardoning Manafort, with 36 percent support. It’s similar among conservatives, 46-34 percent. Trump approvers split about evenly on a Manafort pardon, with 39 percent opposed, 37 percent in favor.
Opposition to a pardon goes higher in other groups – 68 percent among men and 64 percent among women, for example (no real difference between them), 64 percent among whites and Hispanics alike, and 82 percent among blacks.
Sixty-one percent, as noted, say that if Cohen’s claim that he acted at Trump’s direction is true, Trump committed a crime. That view is lowest among Republicans, 28 percent. But there’s concern for Trump in other core groups: A substantial minority of conservatives, 41 percent, say he broke the law if Cohen’s telling the truth. So do 44 percent of evangelical white Protestants, 52 percent of whites and 52 percent of non-college white men, all groups whose support Trump needs.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 26-29, 2018, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.6 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-25-37 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details on the survey’s methodology here.