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Americans Don't Think Trump Is Tough Enough On Russia, Poll Finds


There's a new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll out this morning, and it has bad news for President Trump after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Joining us to walk through the results is NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Good morning, Domenico.


MARTIN: So President Trump got a lot of heat for the summit with Vladimir Putin. He passed up an opportunity to condemn Putin publicly for interfering in the U.S. presidential election. You asked voters about this in this poll. What'd they say?

MONTANARO: Well, they disagree with his original take that, you know, that maybe Russia didn't interfere. Seven in 10 say Russia interfered in the election, and they believe the U.S. intelligence assessments over Putin's denials. That, by the way, includes a majority of Republicans. Two-thirds say that Trump hasn't been tough enough on Russia. And - get this - a majority thinks Trump's dealings with Russia personally have been - haven't exactly been entirely above board. A majority of Americans think he's done something unethical, if not illegal, with regard to his personal dealings with Russia.

MARTIN: What does the poll tell us about President Trump's standing overall?

MONTANARO: You know, it's not great. It's 39 percent approval rating, which is kind of where it's been fluctuating from, some, like, mid-30s up to, like, the low to mid-40s. But he's - and he's still strong with his base. You know, 85 percent of Republicans approve of the job that he's doing, but he's underwater with everyone else - independents, of course, with Democrats. And here's a real key - women. There's a major gender gap. Fifty percent of men approve of the job Trump is doing. Sixty-two percent of women disapprove. When we look at that, it's a 44-point gender gap - it's huge - that the pollsters say that they can't remember there being a time for any other president where the gap between men and women was this wide. And when it comes to those important suburban women where a lot of those majority maker districts are going to be, almost 6 in 10 of those women, suburban women, strongly disapprove of President Trump.

MARTIN: And this is Republican women and Democratic women.

MONTANARO: Yeah, overall, right.

MARTIN: So how do you take these poll results and make them matter when we think about the midterm elections?

MONTANARO: Well, look; Trump is the biggest factor in the election and that, people are saying, actually makes them more likely to vote for a Democrat. Democrats currently have a seven point edge on this key question of who people want to control Congress. More Democrats than Republicans think this election is, quote, "very important." Now, one problem for Democrats here is that they have a giant advantage with young voters under 30, but they're the least likely to vote. And they're the least likely to say that this election is, quote, "very important." Now, at the same time, Trump is being buoyed by the economy. It's doing well. People think he's actually taking the country in a good direction. Almost every other issue, though, they disagree with him and think he's doing a bad job. Republicans hope, though, that the economy can blunt some of that Democratic enthusiasm. When you look at both parties, though, honestly, neither of them looks any good. They have a dismal approval rating. Both are exactly the same at just 23 percent.

MARTIN: Wow. All right. Before we let you go, let me ask you about Brett Kavanaugh because this is the summer of the Supreme Court. It's hard to ignore that there is this confirmation hearing in the offing for the president's pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. How is he factoring into the midterms?

MONTANARO: Yeah, he's not much of a voting factor - at least not yet. You know, he's sort of percolating out there for people. They kind of know who he is, but we'll see what happens as his confirmation hearings start to heat up. But his nomination is, when you look inside the numbers, motivating Republicans slightly more than Democrats. And that's kind of typical that Republicans get motivated more by the court. And a lot of people are asking whether or not Democrats would be more fired up given the stakes with a conservative court likely to be taking over for what could be a generation. And, of course, you know, the big piece of that is abortion, right?

MARTIN: Right.

MONTANARO: And a majority, though, in our poll - a second poll this week - said that they do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's that landmark case that made abortion legal nationwide in 1973. They'd rather see it kept as is or for the court to expand abortion rights interestingly.

MARTIN: OK. NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro walking through those poll results for us. Thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
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