Fox Poll: A Mixed Bag

By Jim Ellis

July 21, 2017 — Fox News this week released the results of their regular benchmark poll (Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research; July 16-18; 1,020 US registered voters) and find President Trump to be showing some weakness, but not to the degree that the Democrats and media would think and hope.

The polling sample tilts Democratic, and badly under polls Independents. This particular sample features 44 percent Democratic respondents, 37 percent Republican, with just 19 percent self-identifying as politically independent. According to the latest Gallup national party affiliation survey (July 5-9), 28 percent consider themselves Democrats, 25 percent Republican, with 45 percent declaring as Independents.

Overall, the president’s job approval rating is 41:53 percent favorable to unfavorable, which is a little lower than during most of his short tenure in office but still better than the 35:63 percent ratio Trump scored on the Fox pre-election poll (Oct. 10-12; 1,006 US registered voters). Therefore, his favorability index, though seriously upside down, is actually better today than when he won the 2016 election.

While his overall job approval is low, his management of various issue areas is better. In terms of handling the economy, 45 percent approve and 46 percent disapprove. This result represents a slight dip from Fox’s March, April, and June surveys. His best ratio during that time was 48:43 percent (June).

While the president’s economic approval rating retracted slightly, those who describe themselves as “getting ahead” (economically) recorded the highest rating (42 percent) since 2007, when Fox began polling in this particular manner. Those saying “falling behind” also tied for the lowest during that span, (11 percent).

The economy is being viewed more favorably, at least according to this respondent group. In asking about “concern” for the economy, 75 percent responded that they do have such “concern”, but that is the lowest number in the Fox polling history. The high in this category, 94 percent, was reached in April of 2012. Eighty-one percent said they are “concerned” about the future of the economy, but this number is the lowest such response since the September 2010 Fox poll.

Trump dips, however, when asked about foreign affairs, particularly handling issues with specific countries. Ratings surrounding Russia is the worst by far, which is of little surprise. Thirty-three percent approve of his handling of America’s relationship with Russia (72 percent of Republicans favor; 5 percent of Democrats), while 56 percent disapprove (15 percent of Republicans; 88 percent of Democrats). But, when asked whether they believe the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians, only 43 percent said yes, which is the same percentage that don’t believe such.

Also unsurprisingly, Trump’s healthcare approval figures are similarly poor: 32:59 percent. Russia and healthcare are the two polled areas where the president fares the worst.

The public, as represented in this particular poll, appears to be inconsistent with their pre-election feelings in relation to whether “shaking up Washington” is viewed as being “a good thing.” Trump ran on a platform of doing so, particularly “cleaning up the swamp” in the nation’s capital, but according to this latest national survey, only 37 percent rate Trump doing so as being good, while 51 percent say bad, though the pollsters use the word “disruption” to describe what he is doing in DC, which obviously creates a negative context surrounding the question.

Perhaps more troubling for Trump, however, in this line of questioning is that only 41 percent say they believe the president is “on their side” versus 54 percent who don’t believe so. But, the view of the federal government is much worse. Only 32 percent say they trust the federal government with 61 percent expressing distrust. Here, all three partisan segments distrust the government, with Independents being the most extreme in this regard. The Independent ratio was 22 percent trust, 70 percent distrust.

But the biggest discrepancy came in the area of voting. While 78 percent believe that people should be required to show a valid form of identification before voting, 56 percent related some level of concern over “voter suppression”. One reason Democrats in Congress give for opposing voter identification is that they say such a tool “suppresses” minority voters. The survey sample also believes, in a 53-29 percent margin, that returning to paper ballots as a way to avoid cyber attacks into the election system is a good idea.

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