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Trouble for Trump: Disapproval at New High, Half Favor Impeachment

Trump’s average approval rating since taking office is the lowest for any president in modern polling since the 1940s, with 60% in the national survey disapproving of his performance in office
Donald TrumpDonald Trump

Disapproval of Donald Trump is at a new high, support for the Mueller investigation is broad and half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll favor Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against the US president.

Sixty percent in the national survey disapprove of Trump's performance in office, numerically the highest of his presidency, albeit by a single point; that includes 53% who disapprove strongly, more than half for the first time. 36% approve, matching his low, ABC reported.

The results come a week after Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of fraud, and his former longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including illegal campaign finance actions that he said Trump directed.

Trump's average approval rating since taking office is the lowest for any president in modern polling since the 1940s. One factor: Contrary to his "drain the swamp" rhetoric, 45% say corruption in Washington has increased under Trump, while just 13% say it has declined.

Suspicions of the president relating to the Mueller investigation are substantial. 61% say if assertions by Cohen are true, Trump broke the law. 53% also think Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller's work.

The national survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that half the public supports Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump, 49-46%; support rises to 57% among women.

>Ethics Concerns

Support for the investigation running its course is broader: Americans overall back Mueller's probe by 63-29%. 52% support it strongly, a high level of strong sentiment.

Mueller prosecuted Manafort and referred the Cohen case to federal prosecutors in New York. Support for Mueller's investigation peaks at 85% among Democrats, but also takes in 67% of independents and even a third of Republicans (32%). 41% of conservatives back Mueller, rising to more than seven in 10 moderates and liberals.

In Trump's dispute with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for allowing the investigation to proceed, the public sides with Sessions, 62-23%. 64% also oppose the idea of Trump firing Sessions; just 19% support it.

Further, while Trump has railed against the Manafort prosecution, Americans call it justified by an overwhelming 67-17%, including nearly half of Republicans. The public opposes Trump pardoning Manafort by essentially the same margin, 66-18%, with 53% strongly opposed. Even among Republicans, 45% oppose a Manafort pardon; 36% support it.

The damage to Trump on these ethics concerns overwhelms his better rating for handling the economy, an essentially even split, 45-47%. That demonstrates that a good economy only makes it possible for a president to be popular – it is no guarantee.

>Approval, Groups

The president's approval rating is highly partisan, but with relative challenges for Trump across the board. His job rating matches his low among Republicans (78% approve) and Democrats (6%) alike. It is 35% among independents.

He is at new lows among college-educated Americans (albeit just by a point; 29% approve), moderates (24%) and blacks (3%, with a nearly unanimous 93% disapproving).

The single biggest shift is among college-educated white women—just 23% now approve of Trump, down 17 points from the peak in April 2017, with disapproval up 20 points, from 55% then to 75% now. Still, even among non-college white men, a core Trump group, his approval is down 15 points, from 70% just this spring to 55% today.

>Other Group Results

Trump's approval rating is 12 points lower among women than men, and that gender gap is reflected elsewhere. As noted, 57% of women favor Congress initiating impeachment proceedings; that drops to 40% of men.

Seventy percent of liberals support impeachment proceedings, declining to 51% of moderates and 30% of conservatives. Impeachment support is highest, a vast 80%, among blacks; 37% of whites agree.

Some of these gaps narrow on whether or not the charges against Manafort were justified. Two-thirds of men and women alike say they were, as do two-thirds of whites—including 64% of white men without college degrees.

Even among Republicans, conservatives and those who approve of Trump's work in office, more see the charges as justified than as unjustified, by 48-28, 49-30 and 47-29%, respectively. (The rest express no opinion.)

As noted, 45% of Republicans oppose Trump pardoning Manafort, with 36% support. It is similar among conservatives, 46-34%. Trump approvers split about evenly on a Manafort pardon, with 39% opposed, 37% in favor.

Opposition to a pardon goes higher in other groups—68% among men and 64% among women, for example (no real difference between them), 64% among whites and Hispanics alike, and 82% among blacks.

Sixty-one percent, as noted, say that if Cohen's claim that he acted at Trump's direction is true, Trump committed a crime. That view is lowest among Republicans, 28%. But there is concern for Trump in other core groups: A substantial minority of conservatives, 41%, say he broke the law if Cohen is telling the truth. So do 44% of evangelical white Protestants, 52% of whites and 52% of non-college white men, all groups whose support Trump needs.

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 26-29, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.6 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-25-37%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

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