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NBC/WSJ Poll: Public Likes Trump's Bipartisan Move — But Little Else

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has inched up, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Image: Trump hosts working lunch with African leaders in New York
President Donald Trump smiles while hosting a working lunch with African leaders during the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20, 2017.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s approval rating has inched up, and more than 70 percent of Americans support his recent deal with Democratic leaders to provide hurricane relief and keep the government open for 90 days, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

But the same poll finds that only a third of the public believes Trump has accomplished much as president, and fewer than 30 percent back his handling of health care, race relations and the violent episode in Charlottesville, Va.

And as Trump has reached out across the aisle — as well as lashed out at members of his own party — the ratings of Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have fallen to new lows.

The NBC/WSJ poll — conducted Sept. 14-18 — comes after Trump worked with Democrats on temporarily funding the government and raising the debt limit, as well as after two hurricanes hit Texas and Florida.

Trump’s overall job-approval rating in the poll stands at 43 percent, which is up three points since August, although that’s within the survey’s margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. Fifty-two percent disapprove of the president’s job.

Pollster Bill McInturff, the Republican half of the bipartisan team that conducts the NBC/WSJ survey, said that Trump’s slight bump is a reminder that the president’s numbers can go in more than direction, despite his steady decline in most polls since his inauguration. "Job approval can go both down and up," McInturff said.

By party, 83 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s performance (up from 80 percent in August), compared with 41 percent of independents (up from 32 percent in August) and 10 percent of Democrats (compared to 8 percent in August).

"Going to the middle has helped him with the middle — without costing him much from his own base," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the survey with McInturff.

When it comes to intensity, 25 percent of Americans strongly approve of Trump’s job, versus 42 percent who strongly disapprove — essentially unchanged from August.

The NBC/WSJ poll also asked respondents to evaluate Trump’s handling of 11 different issues and actions.

The most popular: 71 percent say they approve of his agreement with Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on legislation to fund hurricane relief and keep the government open for three months.

Next, 41 percent give a thumbs-up to Trump’s handling of the economy, versus 36 percent who disapprove.

Yet just 39 percent approve of his handling of border security and immigration, while 36 percent back his handling of North Korea.

In addition, 27 percent support his handling of health care, and 25 percent approve of his handling of race relations and his recent pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

And at the bottom, 23 percent approve how he uses Twitter to communicate, while 20 percent support his handling of the events in Charlottesville, Va., where a white nationalist protest turned violent.

Asked about Trump’s accomplishments in office, a combined 33 percent think he’s accomplished either a "great deal" or "a fair amount."

By contrast, 66 percent of Americans believe he’s accomplished "only some" or "very little" as president.

Even only a third of self-described Trump voters — 34 percent — say the president has accomplished a "great deal."

Republicans turn against McConnell, Ryan

Additionally, the poll finds that McConnell (at 11 percent positive, 41 percent negative) and Ryan (24 percent positive, 40 percent negative) at their lowest personal ratings in the survey’s history.

While Democrats Pelosi (25 percent positive, 43 percent negative) and Schumer (18 percent positive, 27 percent negative) also are polarizing, what stands out about McConnell and Ryan is that a sizable number of Republicans now view these GOP leaders unfavorably.

Indeed, there are more Republicans who have a negative impression of McConnell (25 percent) than a positive one (17 percent).

And just 36 percent of GOP voters say they are satisfied with their party’s congressional leaders, while 59 percent are dissatisfied.

"The antipathy of Trump voters to the D.C. establishment is not limited to Democrats," said Yang, the Democratic pollster.

Looking ahead to the 2018 midterms, Democrats enjoy a six-point advantage over Republicans on which party should control Congress, with 48 percent of voters preferring the Democrats and 42 percent the Republicans.

That six-point edge is down from the Democrats’ 50 percent-to-42 percent advantage in June, although it’s within the margin of error.

To cut taxes or not?

With Republicans set to release details of their tax reform proposal next week, a plurality of Americans — 42 percent — believe that Congress should not cut taxes, while 24 percent want to cut individuals’ taxes and another 28 percent want to cut taxes for both individuals and businesses.

Thirty-seven percent say U.S. businesses pay less than their fair share in taxes, 34 percent say they pay the right amount and 20 percent say they pay more than their fair share.

And 55 percent of Americans say that they personally pay the right amount in taxes, while 40 percent say they pay more than their fair share. Only 4 percent say they pay less than their fair share.

Single-payer health care

The public is divided over a single-payer health care system, with 47 percent favoring such an approach and 46 percent opposing it.

But when supporters are told that all health care costs would be covered under a single-payer system — but that it would eliminate employer plans and that there would be only one government plan — the numbers move to 36 percent favor, 55 percent oppose.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 14-18 of 900 adults – nearly half reached by cell phone – and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points. Among the 741 registered voters who were interviewed, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.6 percentage points.