Early National Report Card

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 14, 2017 — Morning Consult and the Politico publication joined forces to conduct a major national tracking survey that begins to understand how Americans are viewing the current political state. The polling period occurred Feb. 2-4, through extensive interviews with a large 2,070 registered voters sampling universe.

The questionnaire covered how people view President Trump, the congressional leaders, the direction of the country, and their attitudes about key issues currently facing the nation including Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation status.

The right track-wrong track question — though a sizable majority still express negative opinions about where the country is headed — is improving according to this survey. By are margin of 40:60 percent, the respondents believe America is now on the right track. Previously, the ratio had been much worse: well into the 70-plus percentile range responding wrong track during the presidential campaign.

The Trump approval rating is consistent with an evenly polarized electorate. A total of 47 percent either strongly (26 percent) or somewhat (21 percent) approve of the job Trump is doing as president. Conversely, 46 percent either strongly (35 percent) or somewhat (11 percent) disapprove.

But, the Trump numbers are better than the congressional leadership in both parties. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scores 26 percent favorable (7 percent very favorable; 19 percent somewhat favorable) and 36 percent unfavorable (20 percent very unfavorable; 16 percent somewhat unfavorable). His Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) is lesser known, does a bit better, but still has an upside-down rating this early in his leadership tenure. His numbers are 28 percent favorable (10 percent very; 18 percent somewhat), and 33 percent unfavorable (19 percent very; 14 percent somewhat).

Turning to the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) barely breaks into positive territory, and is the only congressional leader who does so. His favorability ratio, according to this large national sample, is 40:39 percent (14 percent very favorable; 26 percent somewhat; 22 percent very unfavorable; 17 percent somewhat). But, it is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who is viewed most negatively. Her ratio is upside-down to the tune of 29:49 percent (9 percent very favorable; 20 percent somewhat; 33 percent very unfavorable; 16 percent somewhat), meaning that her negative is quite hard.

In terms of issues and attitudes, though the courts have struck down President Trump’s attempt to delay entry to US-bound refugees from seven Muslim-dominated countries experiencing the greatest political unrest, his move to do so is still relatively popular. Despite the controversy and upheaval over his executive order, 55 percent of the respondents (35 percent strongly; 20 percent somewhat) view the president’s action positively as compared to only 38 percent who cast a negative perspective over his directive (26 percent strongly; 12 percent somewhat).

Several questions were asked about Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch, and here the respondents have a different view about what the Senate should consider in terms of confirming him. While the vote will largely be cast on ideological lines because the Senate is hopelessly polarized over so many fundamental issues, the sampling group overwhelmingly believes that qualifications to serve on the court should be the primary confirmation decision point.

By a margin of 58-26 percent, the respondent group believes that Gorsuch should be confirmed based upon his judicial qualifications as compared to his stands on political and social issues that might come before the Supreme Court.

At the same time, however, a strong majority of 59-15 percent believes the 60-vote confirmation threshold should remain in place. Additionally, by a margin of 45-7 percent, the respondents say that adding Gorsuch will make the high court more conservative, while a solid plurality of 43-25 percent believes the Judge should be confirmed.

Finally, the electorate understands President Trump will need some time to “make America great again.” While 6 percent believes he has already “made America great again,” the largest plurality, 21 percent, says they are willing to give him his entire four-year term to achieve the goal. On the other extreme, 3 percent are only willing to give him three months. A full 29 percent, and 55 percent overall of Democrats and 60 percent of Democratic women, say America is already great.

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