Political polls tend to find Americans split along hardened partisan lines these days. Opinions of President Donald Trump, for instance, are vastly more polarized than were those for any of his recent predecessors.
But Trump has also played some havoc with traditional partisan cues. While much of his record as president has hewn to conservative doctrine, he’s also spent much of his tenure openly feuding with members of his own party. Last month, according to a Washington Post analysis, he spent more time criticizing Republicans than Democrats.
And as the rift between the president and his own party develops, many Republicans ― and, to an even greater degree, voters who supported Trump in last year’s election ― seem to be taking his side over the rest of the GOP. As a new HuffPost/YouGov survey shows, that loyalty stretches far enough to make a majority of Trump voters say that if Trump agrees with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), one of the GOP’s most cherished bêtes noires, then they do, too.
Earlier this month, Trump surprised Republicans by siding with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a three-month deal to keep the government funded, raise the debt ceiling and provide emergency funding for hurricane relief). The short time frame for the debt ceiling-government funding issues had been disparaged by GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Polling on the deal might have been expected to scramble partisan reactions, with Republicans forced to choose between praising their president and denouncing their top congressional leaders, or vice versa. (Presumably, few Americans hold strong opinions about the timing of raising the debt ceiling, meaning that any survey about the deal is likely to serve as a referendum more about personalities than about the issues at hand.)
Such questions often tend to lead to many respondents simply opting out of giving an answer. But asked what they thought of Trump’s decision to side with Schumer and Pelosi on the deal, Republicans approved, 62 percent to 18 percent, with just a fifth saying they weren’t sure. Trump voters registered their support by an even broader margin, 69 percent to 14 percent.
Both groups were somewhat less willing to say they agreed more with “President Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer” over “Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.”
The percent of Republicans willing to say they agreed with Trump, Schumer and Pelosi dropped to 45 percent. But just 17 percent said they were siding with McConnell and Ryan, virtually identical to the 18 percent who disapproved of Trump’s position on the deal. Instead, the rest of the Republicans simply registered themselves as unsure. Among the Trump voters, 53 percent were willing to side with him and the Democratic leaders against top GOP officials.
Asked whether Trump’s deal represented a betrayal of the Republican Party or an effective act of bipartisanship, most of the Republicans and the Trump voters chose the latter. Just 8 percent of Republicans and 5 percent of Trump voters considered the decision a betrayal.
Democrats, who register near-universal loathing for Trump in most poll questions, were also willing to give him some credit for reaching across the aisle: a majority said they approved of his decision, and about four in 10 described his deal as an effective act of bipartisanship.
To some extent, it’s unsurprising that few Republicans would side with Ryan and McConnell. Both men, especially McConnell, have relatively weak intra-party backing in the wake of Congress’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act this summer. Prominent conservative House members and activists have also cast the blame for the debt ceiling/government funding deal on Ryan, rather than Trump.
Trump’s sway over the GOP isn’t universal, either: the 62 percent of Republicans who approve of his deal falls significantly short of the approximately 80 percent who approve of his job performance overall.
But the response to Trump’s rift with other Republican leaders echoes the response to a broader question about where his supporters’ loyalties lie. Republicans in the HuffPost/YouGov poll say by a 46-point margin that they’d be more likely to support Trump than congressional Republicans in a hypothetical disagreement. Trump voters say the same by a 62-point margin, a number that’s remained largely steady since summer.
“Within the Republican Party, Trump’s power remains relatively strong,” political scientist Dave Hopkins told Vox in August. “So that’s where he can have some successes. He may not get his border wall, and he may not get his Obamacare repeal plan. But he might be able to make Jeff Flake (an Arizona GOP senator frequently at odds with Trump) lose his primary. If that’s what he turns his presidency toward, as a set of goals, he might really notch some victories at Ryan and McConnell’s expense.”
Trump’s supporters, meanwhile, are increasingly likely to perceive a political distance between the president and GOP legislators.
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:
DEMOCRATS ARE INCREASINGLY LIKELY TO SELF-DESCRIBE AS LIBERAL - Samantha Smith: “Seven months into President Donald Trump’s administration, nearly half of all Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters describe their political views as liberal. The share of Democrats who describe themselves this way has steadily risen and is now 20 percentage points higher than in 2000. Through the first half of 2017, more Democratic voters identify as liberal (48%) than as moderate (36%) or conservative (15%), based on an average of Pew Research Center surveys. ... White Democrats, in particular, increasingly characterize their political views as liberal, while blacks and Hispanics are far less likely to embrace that description.” [Pew]
MOST WANT CONGRESS TO SAVE THE DREAM ACT - HuffPost: “Most Americans disagree with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and want Congress to do something about it, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. A majority, 55 percent, say Trump made the wrong decision when he announced last week he would end the program protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, a group known as “Dreamers.” Fifty-one percent of those polled say they’d like to see their congressional representatives create a new program to allow Dreamers to stay in the country, with just 26 percent opposed. Trump has given Congress a six-month window to act before he officially pulls the plug on the program. Past surveys, taken before Trump’s decision, have shown broad support for the program, although the exact level of backing has varied between polls.” [HuffPost]
ARE AMERICANS READING FEWER BOOKS IN THE TRUMP ERA? - Claire Fallon: “In The New Republic recently, Morgan Jerkins reported that many authors, editors and booksellers have noticed a significant slump in the market, which many blame on the current administration. ... But what are readers actually experiencing? Are they reading less and spending more time on activism? According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer to that is complicated, but it suggests that Trump’s rise has done little to substantially shift the habits of readers. Though 21 percent of respondents said they spent less time reading books in 2016 and 2017 than in past years, 18 percent said they’d spent more time reading books ― and 41 percent spent about the same time as in previous years.” [HuffPost]
WHAT THE POLLING AVERAGES SAY AS OF TUESDAY AFTERNOON:
Trump job approval among all Americans: 41% approve, 55% disapprove
Trump job approval among Democrats: 11% approve, 87% disapprove
Trump job approval among Republicans: 81% approve, 17% disapprove
Trump job approval among independents: 35% approve, 60% disapprove
Generic House: 41% Democratic candidate, 35% Republican candidate
Obamacare favorability: 47% favor, 42% oppose
‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Ratings of the auto industry are at a record high. [Gallup]
-Many Americans aren’t very familiar with constitutional provisions. [Annenberg Policy Center]
-Aaron Blake notes a shift away from “America first” worldviews. [WashPost]
-Daniel Cox and Robert P. Jones take a deep dive into America’s shifting religious identity. [PRRI]
-Geoffrey Skelley reviews the history of Senate rematches. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]
-David Wasserman thinks 2018 could be the “Year of the Angry White College Graduate.” 
-Daniel Donner (D) notes the high level of GOP House retirements ahead of 2018. [Daily Kos]
-John B. Horrigan looks at five different ways Americans approach gaining new information. [Pew]
-Andrew Gelman and David Rothschild argue that the future of polling lies with “less traditional” methods of gathering opinions. [Slate]
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 7-9 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.
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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