POLL: Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of crises

Official White House Photo by Tia DufourBy KENDALL KARSON, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s handling of three major challenges facing the country — the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide unrest over racial inequality and relations with Russia — in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, a sign of the obstacles that his reelection bid faces just three months before Election Day.

With the White House confronting the most significant reckoning on race since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the worst public health crisis in a century, and a hostile Russia reminiscent of the Cold War, Americans have little confidence in the job Trump is doing in all three of these major areas.

Trump closes out the month of July the way it began, with his approval on the coronavirus in the low 30s. His approval sits at 34%, right about where it was earlier this month (33%) when it reached a new low since ABC News/Ipsos began surveying on the virus in March.

In the new poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, Trump’s approval is also deeply underwater — at 36% — for how he is handling both the protests over racial inequality and relations with one of the country’s greatest geopolitical foes, Russia.

An election that comes down to be a referendum on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, his response to the race movement or his dealings with foreign adversaries spells trouble for the incumbent president. With all three crises, Trump only consistently has the support of his own party and his base.

Republicans back Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (74%), the protests (78%) and Russia (80%) by overwhelming margins. Democrats are almost uniformly in opposition to Trump’s managing of the three issues, with approval of the president in single-digits on the pandemic (7%), the unrest (8%) and Russia (8%).

Roughly 1 in 5 Republicans disapprove of the president on coronavirus (26%), the protests (22%) and Russia (20%), and just over 9 in 10 Democrats disapprove on all three matters.

Independents trace the country’s attitudes, with his approval falling between 30% to 33% and his disapproval landing between 66% and 69% on COVID-19, the demonstrations and his approach to Russia. About half of Trump’s base — white, non-college educated Americans — approve of his leadership on the outbreak (50%), the protests (51%) and Russia (51%).

The latest numbers for Trump are particularly problematic on his combative response to the nationwide protests — as his approval is in dire straits across racial lines. Only 45% of whites, 7% of Black Americans and 28% of Hispanics approve of Trump’s handling on this specific issue.

Over half of whites (55%), and clear majorities of Black Americans (92%) and Hispanics (72%), disapprove.

Meanwhile, less than one-third of the country believes that sending federal officers to respond to demonstrations in cities makes the situation better.

A slight majority (52%) view the response as exacerbating the situation, and 19% say it doesn’t have an effect either way.

Even among Americans who are supposed to be Trump loyalists, only 42% of white non-college educated Americans say that the presence of federal agents improves the situation. Over a third (37%) of this demographic see the move as making the situation worse.

The new poll comes after the president made a hard pivot back to pushing for an unproven treatment for the virus, hydroxychloroquine, against the advice of top health experts — after appearing to break from months of downplaying the virus’ severity by encouraging the country to wear masks and practice social distancing last week.

It also comes amid the backdrop of clashes in Portland, Oregon, where the president dispatched federal agents into the city to halt the nightly protests that were sparked two months ago by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May. On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said that she was assured that officers would begin a phased withdrawal from the city — an announcement that Trump appeared to contradict by Thursday morning, arguing that the officers would only leave once “safety” was restored.

His disapproval on his handling of relations with Russia, in particular, comes at a precarious time for the president, who has dismissed U.S. intelligence that indicates Russia paid the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

Trump, in an interview with Axios earlier this week, said he “never discussed” the matter in a July 23 phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and when pressed on why he didn’t raise it, he said, “That was a phone call to discuss other things and frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.”

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® July 29-30, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 730 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.0 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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