Poll finds more than 66% Americans oppose Trump emergency declaration to build wall

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Picture: Gage Skidmore

West Long Branch, NJ– After ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the public is divided on whether it has made President Donald Trump look stronger or weaker. Trump’s job rating has ticked down a little, but public opinion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has generally improved in the aftermath according to the latest nationalMonmouth University Poll. The public is split on whether a new budget deal should include funding for a wall across the U.S. border with Mexico, but they oppose – by a nearly 2-to-1 margin – Trump using an emergency declaration to get it built. The poll also finds that the percentage of Americans who feel that the state of the union is strong has dropped from a majority one year ago to a minority today.

Most Americans (81%) approve of Trump’s decision to reopen government for three weeks, but they are divided on how this action affects his image. Somewhat more say it makes him look weaker (32%) rather than stronger (24%), but a plurality of 41% say it has had no effect on his image. Republicans are more likely to say his action makes him look stronger (44%) rather than weaker (19%) while Democrats hold the opposite view (47% looks weaker to 10% looks stronger). Independents are split at 28% weaker and 25% stronger. All the interviews for this poll were conducted after the deal to reopen government was announced.

Trump’s overall job rating stands at 41% approve and 54% disapprove. His approval number is similar to the 43% positive rating he received in Monmouth’s November 2018 poll, while his disapproval number has ticked up from 49%. Trump’s job rating among different partisan groups in November was 83%-10% among Republicans, 42%-45% among independents, and 12%-83% among Democrats. It has not changed much among Republicans in the current poll (now 84%-13%), but his negatives have increased slightly among independents (41%-53%) and Democrats (8%-91%).

“Despite what was objectively a climbdown in Trump’s position, these poll results provide more evidence that public opinion of the president has been largely baked in since day one. The needle may move, but it does not move all that much,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Half the public (50%) says that Trump is primarily responsible for the shutdown going on so long, compared to 35% who put most of the blame on Congressional Democrats and 5% who chiefly blame Congressional Republicans. One-third (34%) say that pressure exerted by Congressional Democrats had a major impact on Trump’s decision to reopen the government, another 37% say this pressure had a minor impact, and just 26% say it had no impact.

Public opinion of the job Congress is doing currently stands at 18% approve and 72% disapprove. It was 23% approve and 63% disapprove in November. There have been significant shifts in partisan opinion after the change in House control. Republican approval of Congress dropped from 39% two months ago to 11% now, while Democratic approval increased from 17% to 34%. Approval among independents decreased slightly from 18% to 11% since November.

Public opinion of congressional leadership also remains negative, but Pelosi, newly re-installed as Speaker of the House, has seen a net uptick in her rating. Currently, 34% approve and 45% disapprove of the job she is doing as Speaker, while 21% have no opinion. In November, her rating as House Minority Leader was 17% approve and 38% disapprove, with 45% having no opinion. This net improvement – her positive rating is up 17 points compared to her negative rating being up 7 points – is due largely to a jump in the opinions of her fellow Democrats – from 29% approve and 16% disapprove in November to 68% approve and 10% disapprove in the current poll. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rating stands at 15% approve and 40% disapprove, with 45% having no opinion. This is somewhat more negative than his 15% approve, 28% disapprove, and 57% no opinion rating from November.

“A few months ago, more than one-third of Democrats said they wanted new leadership in the House. It seems they may have changed their tune after Pelosi’s performance during the recent shutdown,” said Murray.

The president and Congress have given themselves three weeks to negotiate a new budget with a border security deal. If they cannot reach an agreement, nearly half the public (48%) say that they should just fund the remainder of the fiscal year without a new border security deal. Another 26% say they should extend temporary funding for a few more weeks and continue negotiating. Just 20% would support shutting down the government again until a deal is reached. Four-in-ten (39%) Republicans support another shutdown if a border security deal is not reached in the next three weeks. Just 23% of independents and 3% of Democrats agree.

Trump said he might use emergency powers to build a border wall if funding for it is not included in the budget. One-third of Americans (34%) would support the president declaring a national emergency in order to use military funding to build a border wall. Nearly twice as many (64%) would disapprove of this move. Most Republicans (71%) would support the president using emergency powers to build the border wall, while nearly all Democrats (93%) and most independents (66%) would be opposed.

Overall, 44% of the American public supports building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico while 52% are opposed. Support for building a wall has ticked up during Trump’s presidency – it stood at 35% in September 2017 and 40% in January 2018. Currently, 86% of Republicans, 42% of independents, and only 12% of Democrats support building a border wall.

“One possible reason for the increase in public support of a border wall is that the definition of what actually constitutes a ‘wall’ has changed over the past few months. It will still be difficult for budget negotiators to come to an agreement, though, because there are just as many people adamantly opposed to funding a wall as there are people who would be very unhappy if the new budget does not include it,” said Murray.

Just over 3-in-10 Americans (31%) say it is very important to them that a new budget deal includes funding for a border wall, while 16% say this is somewhat important, 9% not too important, and 43% not at all important. At the same time, 35% of Americans say it is very important to them that a new budget deal doesnotinclude funding for a border wall, while 18% say this is somewhat important, 12% not too important, and 32% not at all important.

Just 9% of Americans feel that border wall funding should be tied to dealing with the status of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Most (89%) say the two issues should be dealt with separately. These results are basically unchanged from last year.

In otherMonmouth University Pollfindings, just over one-third of the public (37%) feels that Trump’s agenda at the midway point in his current term has focused a lot on issues important to average Americans, 29% say his agenda has focused a little on these issues, and 33% say it has not focused at all on these issues. Compared to one year ago, the number of people who say Trump has given no attention to the concerns of average Americans has increased from 26%. The number who say he has given a little attention to these issues has declined from 34%. However, the number who say he has given them a lot of attention has held stable from 37% one year ago.

President Trump’s State of the Union address was initially scheduled to be delivered this week, but was postponed by the shutdown. While he is likely to give his administration a glowing review when he does deliver it, less than half of the public feels that the current state of the union is either very (13%) or somewhat (35%) strong. Another 27% say it is not too strong and 22% say it is not strong at all. The 48% who currently feel the state of the union is at least somewhat strong is down from 55% who said the same in January 2018. The decline of confidence in the state of the union over the past year cuts across all partisan groups – going from 76% to 71% among Republicans, from 52% to 44% among independents, and from 42% to 34% among Democrats.

TheMonmouth University Pollwas conducted by telephone from January 25 to 27, 2019 with 805 adults in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

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