Poll: Trump Moving America Forward

Marist survey shows country still deeply divided, but most Americans bullish on transition

Americans are feeling better about President-Elect Donald Trump and more confident in America, a poll released Wednesday by Marist College suggests.

The survey of 1,005 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

“Now, perceptions are similar regardless of party or race.”

Nearly half of voters approve of the way Trump is handling the transition, and a plurality indicated that the president-elect is taking the country in a better direction. At the same time, the poll reveals the deep divisions on display during the bitter campaign remain, a reminder of the challenges Trump faces as he prepares to take office.

Americans actually believe the country is more divided than it was before Election Day.

“After a rough-and-tumble election year where the unpredictable was the predictable, Trump’s transition to the presidency is lacking a political honeymoon,” Marist College Institute for Public Opinion Director Lee M. Miringoff said in a prepared statement. “The president-elect has been reaching out to his base but has not broadened his support.”

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Still, Trump can take some positives from the poll. Some 44 percent of voters said he is changing the country for the better, while 34 percent view the change as for the worse. Almost half — 49 percent — approve of Trump’s handling of the transition, compared with 42 percent who disapprove.

Americans were most confident in economic prospects, with 59 percent saying they were either “confident” or “very confident” in Trump’s ability to grow the economy. And 54 percent expressed confidence in Trump’s ability to keep America safe. Both were signature issues for Trump during the campaign.

Americans were divided on the question of whether Trump would appoint the best people and provide good leadership. His weakest area was foreign policy, with 56 percent pronouncing themselves “not too confident” or “not confident at all” in Trump.

The survey reflects deep divisions along partisan and racial lines. While 85 percent of Republicans consider Trump effective in bringing positive change, only 12 percent of Democrats agree. Among independents, 42 percent agree with Trump’s change, while 29 percent disapprove.  In addition, while 51 percent of white voters agree Trump is bringing positive change, 50 percent of blacks think it is negative. Latinos are split, with 39 percent believing Trump is moving the nation forward and 40 percent believing he is leading it in the wrong direction.

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Similarly, 57 percent of whites approve of Trump’s performance during the transition, while 65 percent of blacks and 52 percent of Hispanics do not. Trump also fares better in the South and Midwest, where he ran strongest during the election; a majority of voters in those regions give him a thumbs-up. Opinion is divided among voters in the Northeast, while a plurality of 49 percent in the West disapprove of his handing of the transition.

The survey suggests that Trump has his work cut out for him in changing perceptions of the overall direction of the country — 62 percent see it heading in the wrong direction.

“Before Election Day, Democrats and African-Americans thought the country was moving in the right direction, and Republicans and whites described the country as on the wrong track,” Miringoff said in the statement. “Now, perceptions are similar regardless of party or race.”

Trump will take over a country that is far more divided than the one President Obama inherited when he won the 2008 election. The share of Americans then believing Obama would lead America in a better direction was 10 points better than the share now believing Trump will improve the country.

On another score, though, there is little difference between Trump and 2008 Obama. Obama then exceeded the expectations of 27 percent of voters at that point in his transition, while 28 percent of voters now believe Trump is exceeding their expectations.

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