Trump Hits His Highest Approval Yet in Marist Poll
Despite improvement, though, president remains under water in survey — it suggests relentlessly negative Russia coverage has taken toll
President Donald Trump’s approval rating is at a record high in the Marist Poll, according to a survey released Thursday.
The poll of registered voters, which has produced among the worst results for Trump of any of the major national surveys, pegged his approval rating at 42 percent. With a disapproval rating of 50 percent, the president remains underwater in the Marist poll and most other surveys.
But the approval rating is up 4 percentage points since late February. The share of respondents who strongly approve of Trump’s performance, 24 percent, is up from 21 percent in its previous polls and ties an all-time high set in early February.
While the poll overall is not great by historical standards, it does show regional improvement. For instance, more people in the South approve than disapprove — a reversal from late February, when the president’s approval rating was 8 points lower than his disapproval rating.
The results come across the backdrop of widely reported "chaos" in the White House and departures of key aides. Trump's standing with voters also improved at a time of unprecedented negative news coverage.
What's more, the Marist poll did not find widespread support for Trump's policies. On trade, for instance, 42 percent said imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum would hurt the economy. Only 27 percent said it would help.
So what explains Trump's rising support?
Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, pointed to refocusing attention from scandals to policies.
"Even if President Trump's policies are not initially popular, he benefits from focusing discussion on the issues," he said in a statement. "If the White House chatter distracts and overshadows the president's agenda, his standing suffers."
Based on historical precedent, Republicans stand to suffer significant losses in the November midterm elections if Trump cannot raise his approval rating.
The survey also suggests that massive coverage of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and independent counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion with the Trump campaign has had an impact.
A majority, 51 percent, think Mueller's probe has been fair. And 53 percent believe Trump has done something either illegal — 26 percent — or unethical, 27 percent, in connection with Russia.