Trump's Approval Nudges Higher Despite Turmoil, Two Polls Find

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s popularity may be on the rise, even as he faces accusations of extramarital affairs, mounting legal challenges and never-ending turmoil among his White House staff.

His approval ratings in two key polls released this week have hit the low 40s, better than they’ve been in nearly a year, driven in part by improving views of the economy. Even so, Trump remains unpopular with most Americans as midterm elections approach in November.

Trump had the support of 42 percent of those surveyed in polls conducted by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and by CNN. Both results are a seven-point increase from the last time the polls were conducted, in February. Trump’s showing in the CNN survey, conducted March 22-25, is the highest in 11 months; his approval rating was 44 percent in April 2017. The last time the president’s rating hit 42 percent in the AP poll was last March.

“Trump’s best numbers he’s had in over a year would still mark some of the worst numbers that any president has had in the last decade. That’s the context here,” said Cornell Belcher, the Democratic National Committee’s pollster in 2006 -- when another unpopular Republican president dragged down his party’s congressional candidates.

Trump’s “numbers are always between roughly 38 and 42 percent and you’ll see some natural fluctuation there,” Belcher said. Much of the variation can be attributed to wavering among moderate Republicans, he said. In the CNN poll, for example, Trump’s approval rating with Republicans improved 6 points from February to 86 percent.

Trump and congressional Republicans are pouring billions of dollars into the economy with tax cuts and other stimulus, and are seeing some dividends in public opinion. In the AP poll, 47 percent of the 1,122 adults surveyed March 14-19 approved of Trump’s handling of the economy, up two points from February and seven from early December, before the Republican tax bill was passed. In December, 33 percent of those surveyed approved of Trump’s handling of taxes; now that number is at 46 percent.

But his economic policies are adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit and national debt, and a majority say Trump is untrustworthy, divisive and an embarrassment. The CNN poll found that 46 percent of those surveyed strongly disapprove of his performance. 59 percent said they think Trump’s dishonest and that they aren’t proud to have him in the White House; 57 percent said he doesn’t manage the government well; 60 percent said he will not unite the country.

And other polls show less improvement in his approval. Gallup has his approval rating at 39 percent, down a point since last week. Marist College found 42 percent approve of his performance, down two percentage points since the beginning of the month. Quinnipiac University said March 21 that his approval rating is 40 percent, a two-point improvement from two weeks earlier but still down two points from his all-time high of 42 percent in February 2017.

The margin of error was 3.7 percentage points in the CNN poll and 4.2 points in the AP poll. Both surveyed U.S. residents, not registered or likely voters.

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