Donald Trump and public-opinion polls have had a messy falling out. Early in the GOP primary, the mogul fell head over heels for such surveys — but by the general election, infatuation had given way to a tumultuous, love-hate affair. After November 8, polls turned against Trump. Now, they don’t mean anything to him at all.
It’s hard to blame Trump for feeling bitter. Over the past three months, barely a day has gone by without some poll reminding him that he is the least popular new president in recorded history. But earlier this week, a Reuters/Ipsos survey showed the commander-in-chief a rare bit of kindness: Americans approved of his temporary travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries by a margin of 49 to 41 percent.
This was excellent news for the president, who had spent the weekend listening to protesters, pundits, tech executives, terrorism experts — and even members of his own cabinet — criticize the order that was wreaking havoc at airports all across the country. The Reuters poll told Trump the same thing that so many other surveys had told him, back in the halcyon days of the primary: Don’t listen to the experts and activists, the people are on your side.
But beneath the headline number, the poll’s message was more ambiguous. Only 31 percent of respondent said that Trump’s order had made them feel “more safe,” while 56 percent opposed prioritizing the resettlement of Christian refugees, as Trump had proposed.
And on Thursday, new surveys from Gallup and Public Policy Polling suggest that support for Trump’s crackdown on Muslim immigration — and his obsession with border control, more broadly — is shallower than the Reuters poll made it appear.
Another indication of the public’s discomfort with Trump’s first round of executive action is the unusually high percentage of voters who think the new president is moving “too fast.”
PPP’s findings don’t present as resounding a rebuke, at first blush. Overall, the pollster finds that 47 percent of voters support Trump’s executive order on immigration, while 49 percent oppose. But when you ask Americans about the order’s specific provisions, support plummets:
52% of voters think that the order was intended to be a Muslim ban, to only 41% who don’t think that was the intent. And the idea of a Muslim ban is extremely unpopular with the American people — only 26% are in favor of it, to 65% who are against it. When it comes to barring people from certain countries from entering the United States, even when those people have already secured a Visa, just 39% of voters are supportive to 53% who are against it. And just 43% of voters support the United States indefinitely suspending accepting Syrian refugees, with 48% opposed to that.
What’s more, PPP finds that only 39 percent of voters thought the order was “well executed,” while 39 percent said the opposite.
So, it doesn’t look like inflicting arbitrary cruelty on Muslim immigrants will turn Trump into a popular president: Fifty-two percent of Americans disapprove of the president, according to Gallup, while PPP finds that 40 percent of the country would like to see him impeached — including 3 percent of his own voters.