President Donald Trump’s approval rating for his handling of the response to hurricanes striking the U.S. has plummeted 20 points since Puerto Rico was devastated by back-to-back hurricanes last month, according to the latest CNN poll.
After hurricanes struck Texas and Florida in late August and early September, 64 percent of Americans said they approved of how Trump managed the federal response. But a CNN poll released Monday, almost a month after Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, shows Trump’s approval had plunged to 44 percent. A larger percentage — 47 percent — said they disapproved.
More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power as the death toll, now 48, continues to climb. Trump on Monday said military personnel are distributing food and water to hard-hit Puerto Ricans, adding with apparent annoyance: “Something that really they shouldn’t have to be doing.”
Approval for Trump’s handling of the response has dropped precipitously among Hispanics — from 49 percent in September to 22 percent in the new poll, CNN reported. Only 36 percent of all women and 32 percent of those under age 45 approve of Trump’s handling of hurricane response. Trump’s rating is down 9 percentage points among Republicans, 25 points among Democrats and 22 points among independents.
Trump’s overall job approval is 39 percent, a number that has declined slightly since the beginning of September, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregation of publicly available polls. Disapproval is 57 percent.
Trump issued several controversial tweets after Maria, appearing to blame Puerto Ricans for not doing more to help themselves, and costing the U.S. too much money. “They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” the president complained.
The slow government response to the hurricane sparked criticism and angry pleas for increased help from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. A desperate Yulin Cruz pleaded again for help Sunday in an interview with HuffPost, saying: “Damn it, we’re dying.”
She added: “It may be easy to try to disregard us ... because we’re a U.S. territory and a colony. But we are people dammit and I don’t care what the political status is.”
Trump renewed his criticisms on Twitter last week, saying that the island was a wreck before Maria hit from a “financial crisis largely to their own making.” He threatened to withdraw FEMA workers.
Trump insisted he only heard good things from the people when he visited Puerto Rico and tossed rolls of paper towels to island residents in a scene that triggered more ridicule than praise. The president has repeatedly patted himself on the back for the government’s response.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone Oct. 12 to Oct. 15 among a random national sample of 1,010 adults. The margin of error is 3.5 points.