Poll shows Trump’s approval rating up from historic lows


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The good news for President Donald Trump? His approval rating is up 7 points since last month, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The bad news? That only lifts Trump’s approval to 42 percent, low for a president at this point in his tenure.

Still, the trajectory is a welcome shift for a White House that has been battered by chaos, controversies and internal upheaval. The poll suggests that at least some of the president’s improving standing is tied to the economy and the Republican tax overhaul, which offers a glimmer of hope for GOP lawmakers who plan to make both issues the centerpiece of their efforts to maintain control of Congress in November.

Nearly half of Americans surveyed – 47 percent – say they approve of how Trump is handling the economy, his highest rating on any issue. When it comes to tax policy, 46 percent of Americans back Trump’s moves.

“Our fortunes will rise and fall with the economy and specifically with the middle-class tax cut this fall,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Bliss urged Republican candidates to view the law as “an offensive, not defensive weapon.”

One of the GOP’s challenges, however, will be keeping the economy and tax overhaul in the spotlight through the fall given the crush of other matters roiling the White House and competing for Americans’ attention. At the White House on Monday, the daily press briefing was dominated by questions about the president’s alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, a relationship he denies. Each week has seemed to bring a new departure among the president’s closest advisers. And many days, Trump is more inclined to use his Twitter megaphone to try to discredit the investigation into possible campaign contacts with Russia than promote the tax overhaul.

Republican operatives acknowledge that even if they can break through the clutter, they still have a ways to go when it comes to explaining the $1.5 trillion tax plan to Americans. Democrats have aggressively cast the measure, which permanently slashes the tax rate for corporations and reduces taxes for the wealthiest Americans, as a boon for the rich that offers comparatively little for the middle class.

The Democratic message does appear to be breaking through with voters. Among those Americans who are familiar with the new law, 77 percent believe it helps large corporations and 73 percent say it benefits the wealthy, while 53 percent say it helps small businesses. Americans are evenly divided on whether the measure helps the middle class.

Republicans argue Democrats risk overreaching by downplaying the impact that even a small windfall from the tax bill can have for a family and individual. According to the AP-NORC poll, nearly half of those who receive a paycheck – 46 percent – say they’ve seen an increase in their take-home pay as a result of the tax law.

Overall, taxes and the economy are the brightest spots for Trump, who gets lower numbers from voters on a range of other issues, including his handling of North Korea (42 percent), trade (41 percent), gun control (39 percent) and the budget deficit (35 percent).

The AP-NORC poll of 1,122 adults was conducted March 14-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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