POLITICS
08/15/2017 04:02 pm ET Updated Aug 16, 2017

Here's How Many Americans Say They'll Never Change Their Minds About President Trump

And more of the latest polling news.
Local residents react as President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, on Aug. 3, 2017.
Carlos Barria / Reuters
Local residents react as President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, on Aug. 3, 2017.

President Donald Trump took office in January with historically low ratings for a first-term president. Since then, his approval numbers have largely tracked a course of slow erosion.

Just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance as of Tuesday afternoon, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate of public polls, down from about 45 percent at the beginning of February. While nearly 8 in 10 Republicans still view the president positively, that’s also down nearly 5 points in the months since his inauguration ― and that doesn’t account for disgruntled former Republicans who’ve left the party. The share of Trump voters who strongly support him, meanwhile, has fallen from two-thirds at at the start of his term to a bare majority in recent polls.

Not every adverse news event has taken the toll on the president that his opponents might expect. While Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare preceded a noticeable dip in his ratings, for instance, months of stories about Trump’s relationship with Russia have done little to move the needle, leaving his numbers roughly stable through much of the early summer. It’s not yet clear what effect the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, or Trump’s seeming reluctance to condemn it, might have.

Overall, however, Trump’s already limited bank of supporters seem to be declining even further ― a trend that raises the question of just how low his absolute floor of support might be.

According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer could be about 14 percent. That’s the share of Americans who say both that they approve of Trump’s performance as president, and that there’s almost nothing Trump could do to lose their approval. Twenty percent approve of Trump, but say he could squander their backing, a bloc that represents half of his current supporters.

By contrast, those who disapprove of the president are significantly more likely to be solidified in their position. A full one-third of the public disapproves of Trump and says there’s almost nothing he could do to gain their support, while just under 12 percent are willing to be won over. About 5 percent of both approvers and disapprovers aren’t sure how they’d feel in the future.

That leaves about 47 percent of the public who say that they’re unlikely to change their opinions about Trump, up slightly from 40 percent in April, when a HufPost/YouGov survey put one-tenth of the public in the camp of stalwart Trump supporters, and 30 percent in the camp of die-hard opponents. Overall, 40 percent now approve and 50 percent disapprove, according to the poll, which was taken before the events in Charlottesville and which is modestly more positive for the president than a number of other recent surveys.

Another poll, released Tuesday by Monmouth University, asked a similar question, but found a greater share of Trump’s support locked in. In that survey, about a quarter of the public said they approved of Trump and couldn’t think of anything he could do ― or fail to do ― that would make them disapprove, while 28 percent said they disapproved and didn’t expect that to change.

Whether those metrics hold any value as a political predictor remains to be seen. People are far from perfect at predicting their future actions, and telling a pollster they’ll never feel a certain way doesn’t guarantee they won’t. And pledging never to change one’s mind about a politician is a pretty high bar. Voters who say they could plausibly turn against the president may never feel impelled to actually do so, while those who could imagine his earning their support may nevertheless remain opposed.

While 43 percent who approve of Trump say he hasn’t done anything they disapprove of, according to the HuffPost/YouGov survey, 41 percent say they’re unhappy with his performance in at least some way. Health care was the biggest reason why, garnering the largest percentage from a selected list of topics, at 23 percent, followed by “the way things work in Washington” and social issues. Few expressed discontent on the economy, foreign policy or the Supreme Court.

But many said their discontent didn’t have to do with any of the specific issues listed. Instead, a number pointed to his temperament or behavior as president, a finding that reflects other studies that have shown disapproval of the president rooted in concerns about his character.

“He needs to be better spoken and quit being childish in some of his twitter comments,” wrote one Trump voter who said she somewhat approved of the president, but that he could lose her approval in the future.

Others mentioned the turnover in the White House, including his firing of James Comey as FBI director and his attacks on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, which have discomfited some of his supporters.

Those who disapprove of Trump say by a nearly 3-to-1 margin that he hasn’t done anything they approve of. Those who did have something positive to say about the president were most likely to cite his record on immigration. Others named his record on trade, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, although some responded with distinctly fainter praise.

Trump ”[t]akes a lot of vacations, during which he is not screwing up the country,” one man who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election offered.

“He hasn’t Nuked anyone,” another Clinton voter suggested, adding in parentheses, “yet.”

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups.

MORE OF THE LATEST POLLING NEWS:

AMERICANS AREN’T TOO THRILLED WITH THREATS OF ‘FIRE AND FURY’ - HuffPost: “Americans generally disapprove of President Donald Trump’s threats this week against North Korea, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, even as they remain close to evenly divided on his overall approach to dealing with the country ... Americans are split on Trump’s handling of issues related to North Korea, with 37 percent approving and 40 percent disapproving. But just 17 percent say he’s making the situation better with his efforts, with 38 percent saying he is making it worse, 14 percent that he’s having little effect, and 31 percent unsure.” [HuffPost, more from CBS and CNN]

LEGAL IMMIGRANTS SEEN AS A BOON TO U.S. - HuffPost: “Americans overwhelmingly believe legal immigration into the U.S. is a boon for the country, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey, with just over a third supporting a decrease in the level of immigration permitted into the U.S….By a 40-point margin, 58 percent to 18 percent, Americans say that legal immigration is largely a good thing for the country. The remaining 24 percent aren’t sure. Thirty-five percent of the public wants to see the level of legal immigration decrease, while 46 percent say it should increase or remain at its present level. There’s a closer divide on Trump’s overall attitude toward immigration. Forty percent say his approach is too harsh, while 37 percent call it about right, with 5 percent calling the president too soft on the issue.” [HuffPost]

MCCONNELL’S RATINGS DROP AMONG REPUBLICANS - Justin McCarthy: “As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s unsuccessful attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have provoked the ire of many in the GOP, Republicans’ views of McConnell have become less positive. Currently, Republicans and independents who lean Republican are only slightly more likely to have a favorable (40%) than unfavorable view (33%) of McConnell. His favorable rating is down nine percentage points from April’s 49% ... During this tenuous period in his relationship with Trump, McConnell may find the president’s public criticisms a challenge to his standing among his own party. Trump’s favorability among the GOP is double McConnell’s; while less than half of Republicans have a favorable view of the majority leader, eight in 10 view the president positively.” [Gallup]

MOST WANT THE WHITE HOUSE TO MAKE OBAMACARE WORK - Kaiser Family Foundation: “After the Senate’s failure to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that eight in 10 Americans (78%) say President Trump and his administration should do what they can to make the current health care law work. This includes large majorities of Democrats (95%) and independents (80%), as well as about half of Republicans (52%) and President Trump’s supporters (51%). A much smaller share of the public (17%), including four in 10 Republicans (40%) and Trump supporters (39%), say the President and his Administration should do what they can to make the law fail so they can replace it later.” [KFF]

WHAT THE POLLING AVERAGES SAY AS OF TUESDAY AFTERNOON:

Trump job approval among all Americans: 39% approve, 56% disapprove

Trump job approval among Democrats: 9% approve, 88% disapprove

Trump job approval among Republicans: 79% approve, 18% disapprove

Trump job approval among independents: 34% approve, 57% disapprove

Generic House: 42% Democratic candidate, 37% Republican candidate

Obamacare favorability: 47% favor, 42% oppose

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

-Most Americans support maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia. [Chicago Council]

-Congress ― especially the Republican side ― is really unpopular. [Gallup, CNN]

-Quinnipiac finds Democrat Ralph Northam leading by 6 points in the Virginia gubernatorial race, which other surveys have found close to tied. [Quinnipiac]

-Geoffrey Skelley offers a history of Alabama’s Senate special elections. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]

-Harry Enten argues that “the normal rules of politics still apply to Trump.” [538]

David A. Graham takes a skeptical look at a survey finding that many Republicans would agree to postpone the 2020 election. [The Atlantic]

-SurveyMonkey digs into the differences between Trump’s college-educated supporters and those without a degree. [SurveyMonkey]

-Steven Shepard reports on CNN’s decision to drop its partnership with ORC. [Politico]

Find the latest polling stories, updates and charts here. Want to get stories like this in your inbox? Sign up for emails here.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Aug. 9-10 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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