Dark. Negative. Divisive. That’s was the immediate narrative about President Donald Trump’s inaugural address.
But many Americans liked it.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that the new president’s message is resonating with voters, refuting the idea that Trump bungled his first speech as commander in chief.
Trump got relatively high marks on his Friday address, with 49 percent of those who watched or heard about the speech saying it was excellent or good, and just 39 percent rating it as only fair or poor. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed reacted positively to the “America First” message, the cornerstone of the Trump campaign and governing posture.
Americans are looking for Trump to put his slogan into action: 61 percent said they agreed with Trump’s plan that the federal government should “buy American and hire American.”
“President Trump knows what his voters like to hear, and you see that resonating once again in our latest poll,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s chief research officer and co-founder.
Fifty-one percent of voters described the speech as ‘optimistic,’ 46 percent of respondents say the speech was ‘presidential,’ and 44 percent say it was ‘inspiring,’ laying bare an alternative narrative that could have driven this week’s news cycle if the president had not started a multi-day debate about the crowd size on the National Mall.
On Monday evening, the president created another distraction by reopening a debate about voter fraud with top leaders on Capitol Hill — leaders who are currently taking measure of the man who will be leading the country for the next four years.
The disconnect between his consistent, jobs-focused message, and his unpredictable, shoot-from-the-hip approach, is no surprise — it is how Trump conducted his campaign. Democrats are hoping Trump remains undisciplined, because some fear the political upside for the GOP if the president drops the random missives and declarations, and focuses solely on jobs.
Trump’s low approval ratings reflect the contentious general election, and his frequent attempts to relitigate small points about his victory. Just a few days into his administration, Trump has a 46 percent approval rating — unusually low for what amounts to be a honeymoon period — and a 37 percent disapproval rating, with 17 percent expressing no opinion. Thirty-eight percent of those polled say the country is on the right track, while 62 percent said its heading down the wrong track.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll – conducted Jan 20 through Jan. 22 – surveyed 1,922 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus two percent. Questions about Trump’s performance at the inauguration were limited to the 1,762 people who said they watched the address, a sample that’s slightly more Republican than the overall poll, although still skews Democratic.
Despite engaging in a scattershot set of issues – including extended musings on his electoral performance, publicly bragging about his intelligence and appearances on the cover of Time magazine – Trump is appearing to follow through on his campaign promises.
He has notified the global community he will withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, and signed executive orders that begin to repeal Obamacare. He also signed orders freezing regulations, instituting federal workforce hiring, and restarting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence head to Philadelphia Thursday to meet with House and Senate Republicans, and will begin to talk in further detail their legislative priorities in an all-Republican Washington. On Friday, Trump will meet with United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, an attempt to begin conversations about a bilateral trade agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit Washington in the coming weeks.
Trump’s nationalist rhetoric isn’t the only area where the new president Americans are backing him on.
Seventy-two percent of respondents say they support deporting only undocumented immigrants with criminal records. A plurality of those contacted for the poll — 41 percent — said they believe it’s appropriate for the president to use executive authority to overturn regulations. Thirty-one percent say economic issues are their top priority.
But there are some notes of caution in the POLITICO/Morning Consult survey, especially surrounding Obamacare. Thirty-six percent of respondents want Obamacare repaired and rebuilt, narrowly pacing the 33 percent who want it repealed and replaced. Thirty-two percent say they want it repealed in part, compared to 23 percent who want it repealed completely.
Nearly half of respondents say they believe parts of the law aren’t working and want it repaired, compared with 34 percent who say they believe most of it is not working and want it completely replaced.
Nearly seven in 10 voters — 68 percent — say they support allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in America if they meet a set of standards, such as having no criminal history. Seventy-two percent said that undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as a child should be able to apply for legal status. Building a border wall only enjoys narrow support, with 47 percent in favor, and 45 percent opposed.
At the same time, fifty-five percent of those polled said they support creating a new deportation task force, as well as plans to increase the number of deportation officers.
One thing Trump should crack down on is his use of Twitter, the social media platform where he delivers many of his messages. Forty-five percent of respondents said his use of Twitter was a bad thing — and 61 percent say he uses it too much.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights in politics, policy, and business strategy.
More details on the poll and its methodology can be found in these two documents — Toplines: http://bit.ly/2ksudGM | Crosstabs: http://bit.ly/2ksufyo