A new poll by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and The Harris Poll places President Trump’s approval rating at 47 percent. That’s the highest the number has been in more than a year, though it isn’t great.
But Trump’s approval rating on key issues and subject areas may be more consequential than his general approval rating. Why? Because if Americans like the job he’s doing on, say the economy, foreign policy, and fighting terrorism, they are likely to reelect him even if they don’t approve of his management style or his personality.
How do Americans view the substantive Trump? Somewhat favorably, according to the CAPS/Harris poll. 58 percent approve of his performance when it comes to stimulating jobs. 57 percent approve of his handling of the economy and his effort to fight terrorism. 47 percent approve of his foreign policy efforts. (In all cases, the sum of the approval and disapproval numbers equals 100 percent; there are no undecideds reported).
All of these are numbers are the highest recorded by this poll for Trump. All of them are either positive or nearly break-even.
Immigration is the one area where Trump’s latest approval number is not at a record high (for him). His handling of this issue meets with the approval of 46 percent of those surveyed.
But the immigration results contain some positives for Trump. 70 percent of respondents want stricter enforcement of immigration laws. 53 percent support prosecuting immigrants who cross the border illegally and 64 percent favor sending these immigrants home. 55 percent oppose “catch and release.”
On the question “Do you think we should have basically open borders or do you think we need secure borders?” the split was 76-24 in favor of secure borders. How 24 percent of Americans could favor “basically open borders” is beyond me. Nonetheless, the result favors Trump and the GOP generally, as leftist Democrats increasing flirt with an open borders policy.
The poll also encompasses the dueling scandals of Russia collusion and FBI misconduct. Only 35 percent of those surveyed believe the independent counsel has found evidence of collusion. I don’t regard this result as very meaningful, though. What matters is whether Team Mueller has found such evidence, or will find it, not whether people believe, as of now, that it has.
53 percent believe Mueller should wind down his investigation of collusion and 50 percent believe he should wind down the obstruction investigation. But again, without knowing what information Mueller has and what leads he may be pursuing, one can’t reach an informed opinion as to how quickly he should wind down.
In light of the Inspector General report, 61 percent believe there is evidence of bias at the FBI. 64 percent would like to see a special counsel appointed to investigate. At the same time, 54 percent believe Trump’s firing of James Comey constitutes obstruction of justice.
It’s hard to reconcile these results. If the FBI under Comey’s leadership showed bias, thus requiring the appointment of a special counsel, then the firing of Comey does not seem problematic.
I think the most significant findings in the CAPS/Harris Poll are the approve/disapprove numbers. These are pretty favorable the President Trump, but can change quickly.