Trump Is His Own Worst Spokesman, Americans Say In Poll

Most Americans think President Donald Trump hurts his own cause when he speaks on behalf of the White House, according to a new Monmouth University survey.

Sixty-one percent say Trump does more to hurt than help the presidency by speaking out, with just a third of those polled seeing his statements as mostly helpful.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, two of the president’s most prominent surrogates, fare better, although they’re still seen as doing more damage than good.

Americans say by a 14-point margin that Spicer hurts, rather than helps, the president by speaking for the administration, and say the same of Conway by a 12-point margin. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, is viewed about equally as an asset and a liability, though almost half of those polled said they were not familiar with her.

“This is the epitome of a no-win situation,” Patrick Murray, the Monmouth poll director, said in a statement. “It’s not as if Trump’s appointed spokespeople are doing worse than the man himself. It may simply be an impossible task to represent this president and come off as credible.”

The findings come as Trump has mused publicly about ending or curtailing daily press briefings because aides couldn’t communicate his views “with prefect accuracy.” Instead, he broached the prospect of conducting the briefings himself every two weeks or so.

Speculation has also arisen that Spicer’s role as the White House’s main spokesman might be reduced.

Trump does have one surrogate who’s publicly perceived as helpful: Vice President Mike Pence. In the poll, 53 percent say Trump benefits from Pence’s comments on behalf of the White House, with just 29 percent viewing him as a negative.

Even Republicans, who view all of the people in the survey as credits to the administration, think Pence makes a better spokesman than Trump. Two-thirds of part members say Trump helps himself by speaking out, while 87 percent say Pence’s statements are helpful.

The Monmouth survey of 1,002 adults was conducted May 13 and May 15-17, with live interviewers reaching both landlines and cell phones.

MORE OF THE LATEST POLLING NEWS:

CONCERNS RISE ABOUT IMPACT OF AHCA – Ashley Kirzinger, Bianca DiJulio, Liz Hamel, Elise Sugarman, and Mollyann Brodie: “With Congress currently discussing the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a plan that would repeal and replace the 2010 health care law, this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that more Americans have an unfavorable view of the plan than a favorable one (55 percent vs. 31 percent, respectively)….This month’s survey finds the public has increasingly negative views of how their health care will be affected by proposed changes. In December 2016, after the presidential election but before the release of the Republican plan, less than one-third of the public thought their health care would get worse if the 2010 health care law was repealed. This month’s survey, fielded after House Republicans passed the AHCA, finds larger shares say the cost of health care for them and their family (45 percent), their ability to get and keep health insurance (34 percent), and the quality of their own health care will get worse if Congress passes the AHCA (34 percent).” [Kaiser, Pollster ACA chart, list of AHCA polling this month]

TRUMP’S FIRST TRIP ABROAD INITIALLY GETS POSITIVE MARKS – HuffPollster: “Americans give President Donald Trump generally positive marks for his first official trip abroad, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, although most still say he doesn’t have the respect of other world leaders. Forty-six percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of his international trip, the survey finds, and 35 percent disapprove. Another 19 percent aren’t sure….Fifty percent say they don’t think leaders of other countries around the world have much respect for Trump, while just 29 percent believe he is internationally respected.” [HuffPost] One significant caveat: the poll was fielded last Wednesday through Friday, partially before Trump’s fraught NATO and G-7 meetings. An Economist/YouGov poll fielded later in the week found approval for Trump’s handling of the trip down to 41 percent, with disapproval rising to 46 percent.

AMERICANS NARROWLY AGREE WITH COURT’S DECISION NOT TO REINSTATE TRAVEL BAN – HuffPollster: “Americans generally agree with a federal appeals court’s decision not to reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, although opinions on the ban itself remain mixed. By a modest 6-point margin, 45 percent to 39 percent, respondents say the court made the right decision in refusing to reinstate Trump’s March executive order suspending refugee admissions and banning travel to the U.S. by non-visa-holders from six Muslim-majority countries. Judges in Hawaii and Maryland halted key provisions of the order before the ban could go into effect….Still, opinions about the ban itself remain split and have changed little from past HuffPost/YouGov surveys, with 44 percent in favor and 43 percent opposing the ban. (For a variety of reasons, different pollsters have found significantly varying responses to the measure, with HuffPost/YouGov surveys registering among the lowest levels of opposition.)” [HuffPost]

WHY DID KEY STATE POLLS MISS TRUMP’S VICTORY? – Nate Cohn: “Nearly seven months after the presidential election, pollsters are still trying to answer a question that has rattled trust in their profession: Why did pre-election polls show Hillary Clinton leading Donald J. Trump in the battleground states that decided the presidency? Is political polling fundamentally broken? Or were the errors understandable and correctable? At their annual conference in New Orleans this month, polling experts were inching toward the latter, more optimistic explanation. And there is mounting evidence to support their view. At least three key types of error have emerged as likely contributors to the pro-Clinton bias in pre-election surveys. Undecided voters broke for Mr. Trump in the final days of the race, or in the voting booth. Turnout among Mr. Trump’s supporters was somewhat higher than expected. And state polls, in particular, understated Mr. Trump’s support in the decisive Rust Belt region, in part because those surveys did not adjust for the educational composition of the electorate ― a key to the 2016 race. Some of these errors will be easier to fix than others. But all of them are good news for pollsters and others who depend on political surveys.” [NYT, more from HuffPollster]

‘OUTLIERS’ – Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Max Ehrenfreund writes that Trump’s proposals to reduce food stamps and Medicaid might not play well with his supporters. [WashPost]

-Patrick Ruffini (R) argues that black voters aren’t turning out for Democrats post-Obama. [538]

-Jon Reid finds that insurance providers’ images haven’t been affected by pulling out of ACA exchanges. [Morning Consult]

-Most Americans have favorable views of the U.S. military. [Gallup]

-Shiva Maniam finds most veterans are supportive of Trump. [Pew]

-Jack Santucci dives into a recent attempt to implement ranked-choice voting in Maine. [WashPost]

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