Iowa Poll: As independents sour on Trump, disapproval rating tops 50%
The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll was conducted July 9-13 by Selzer and Co. of Des Moines. The Register
© COPYRIGHT 2017, DES MOINES REGISTER AND TRIBUNE COMPANY
Disapproval of President Donald Trump has risen slightly and confidence in the country’s direction has fallen in Iowa.
A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows 43 percent of Iowans approve of the job Republican Donald Trump is doing as president, compared with 52 percent who disapprove. Fifty-six percent, meanwhile, say the nation has gotten off on the wrong track, while 32 percent say it’s headed in the right direction.
Trump’s top-line job approval numbers are largely unchanged from the Iowa Poll conducted last February, although the share disapproving of the president’s efforts has grown and now represents a majority.
The overall numbers’ relative stability belie notable movements among various demographic groups.
Self-identified independents have turned against Trump, with 59 percent now saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing compared with 35 percent who approve. In an Iowa Poll five months ago, his disapproval rating among independents was 50 percent, 9 percentage points lower than now.
Poll respondent Ellen Pieper is among those disapproving of the president's performance so far. The independent from Waukee voted for Trump and said she still believes in his ideas and qualifications. It’s how he behaves that bothers her.
“He’s trying to move the country in the right direction, but his personality is getting in the way,” she said, calling out his use of Twitter in particular. “He’s a bright man, and I believe he has great ideas for getting the country back on track, but his approach needs some polish.”
Still, Pieper says, she’d vote for him again today.
Poll respondents ages 35 to 54 have turned even more sharply negative on Trump. Fifty-two percent now say they disapprove, a 12-percentage point jump from February.
In all cases, the numbers suggest Iowans who began Trump’s presidency undecided about him have begun to draw an opinion — a negative one.
Fort Dodge independent and poll respondent Jeremy Leo didn’t vote for Trump — he wrote in Bernie Sanders — but said he viewed Trump as capable of making real change. Since inauguration day, though, he’s been disappointed by the president’s inconsistency on issues and dissembling on his interactions with Russia.
“I felt that when Trump took office, here’s a man who’s going to get stuff accomplished — he’s not going to take any guff from people, and he’s actually going to go in there and get stuff done,” Leo, a 33-year-old computer technician, said. “Now, he’s been kind of railroaded on all that, and he’s doing it to himself.”
The poll of 800 Iowa adults, conducted July 9-13 by Selzer and Co., has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Since February, Trump has seen few policy successes in Washington, D.C., while becoming further embroiled in controversy over Russian meddling in the 2016 election and allegations of collusion with his campaign.
That controversy has become more intense over the last week — when the poll was in the field — amid revelations that the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., took a meeting during the campaign with Russian officials promising compromising information on rival Hillary Clinton.
In Iowa Polls dating back to the Eisenhower era, no president has found himself with a majority disapproval rating as quickly as Trump.
Still, Trump remains popular among the electoral base that won him the election: 90 percent of respondents who say they voted for him continue to approve of his performance, as do 63 percent of Iowans from rural areas. Fifty-seven percent of self-identified born-again Christians back Trump, as do 51 percent of Protestants and a 47-percent plurality of Catholics.
Joan Klinger, a Republican retiree from rural Corydon who dabbles in real estate, said she appreciates Trump’s recognition of and devotion to the working class — even as she has low expectations about what he can accomplish in Washington.
“It doesn’t seem like it makes any difference which party gets in there. Whatever they say they’ll do when they get in there, they can’t really do it,” said Klinger, 67. “I just want him to annoy the hell out of everybody, and he’s done that.”
“At least,” she said, “I feel like he’s speaking for the people that are trying to pay their own bills.”
As Iowans’ disapproval of Trump has ticked up slightly, their feelings about the direction of the country have begun to erode.
The 56 percent share of respondents who say the nation has gotten off on the wrong track represents a downward shift from the weeks following Trump’s inauguration, when just 51 percent saw the U.S. on the wrong track and 36 percent said it was headed in the right direction.
Still, that number remains high relative to Iowans' feelings for most of Democratic President Barack Obama’s second term, when wrong-track ratings ranged as high as 71 percent.
Vice President Mike Pence enjoys a 52 percent approval rating — up 4 percentage points since February. Thirty-eight percent disapprove of the job he’s doing.
About the Poll
The Iowa Poll, conducted July 9-13 for The Des Moines Register and Mediacom by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on telephone interviews with 800 Iowans ages 18 or older. Interviewers with Quantel Research contacted households with randomly selected landline and cell phone numbers supplied by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were administered in English. Responses were adjusted by age and sex to reflect the general population based on recent census data.
Questions based on the sample of 800 Iowa adults have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would not vary from the percentages shown here by more than plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents — such as by gender or age—have a larger margin of error.
Republishing the copyright Iowa Poll without credit to The Des Moines Register and Mediacom is prohibited.