New Poll & Messaging Guidance on Russia, Health Care & Other Issues Affecting Voters’ Lives

May 26, 2017


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Priorities USA
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
Global Strategy Group
DATE: May 26, 2017
RE: New Poll & Messaging Guidance on Russia, Health Care & Other Issues Affecting Voters’ Lives


President Trump’s ties to Russia, and the controversial firing of FBI Director James Comey amid the federal investigation into Trump’s campaign, are taking a noticeable toll on Trump’s numbers. In the latest tracking poll conducted for Priorities USA, Trump’s disapproval rating stands at 54%, up from 46% in late April. This spike in Trump’s disapproval is powered by a 14-percent rise among independents, and it represents the highest disapproval rating seen since our tracking surveys began in January.

There is also growing evidence that concern over Trump and Russia, along with the health care issue, is starting to affect voter opinion about control of Congress. By a 7-point margin, more voters now say they are more worried that Republicans will not do enough to hold Trump accountable than that Democrats will go too far – a clear shift from previous polling.

While the poll shows that the firing of James Comey and other concerns related to Russia are major liabilities for Trump himself, the health care issue plays a bigger role in dragging down Republicans in Congress. By 47% to 35%, more voters express concern about the support of GOP lawmakers for the controversial health care bill than their opposition to an independent investigation into Trump and Russia. 

While the American people support congressional Democrats’ aggressive questioning of Trump’s Russia connections, which has succeeded in sowing doubts about Trump and should continue, a key imperative for Democrats and progressive organizations is to bring even greater attention to the health care issue in the weeks and months to come. In addition to the fact that the impacts of the health care proposal directly affect voters’ lives in significant ways, disapproval of the health care proposal transcends partisan lines. Furthermore, health care needs the added reinforcement since it is less dominant in the news compared to Russia, which has been the subject of new revelations for several weeks in a row. As a result, more voters say they’re closely following news about Russia right now than say the same about health care.

Health Care

Even while it has gotten less attention in the news recently, voters are closely following the House’s passage of the Republican health care bill (70% are following it) and the results are highly damaging to Republicans in Congress.  58% of voters, including 57% of independent voters, are less likely to reelect their representative in Congress if they voted in favor of the Republican health care plan.  Voters’ reaction to recent news on Donald Trump’s health care policies has been highly unfavorable (27% favorable to 53% unfavorable) as well.

It is important for voters – particularly persuadable Trump voters – to understand more clearly that Trump is responsible for the harmful elements of the House health care bill, and Democrats should shine a spotlight on the fact that Trump’s health care bill directly contradicts his campaign promise to expand health care coverage and lower costs. His budget includes many of the most damaging aspects of the Republican health care bill, and Democrats should use this fact to show voters the hardship that President Trump, not just Congress, intends to inflict on American families.

Russia and the FBI Investigation

An astronomical 82% of voters are closely following news about President Trump and his connections to Russia, and they are not liking what they hear. Voters’ reactions to recent news of Trump’s dealings with Russia and Putin (26% favorable to 57% unfavorable) and Trump’s dealings with the FBI and former Director James Comey (26% favorable to 58% unfavorable) are equally unfavorable by a 2-1 margin.

President Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey gives 63% of voters doubts about the job he is doing as president, including 64% of independent voters.

In a shift from previous polls, more voters now believe that Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to be a check and balance on Trump (49%) than believe that Democrats in Congress are going too far in opposing what Trump is trying to do (42%).  Democrats were at a four point disadvantage on this issue in previous polling. This substantial shift is largely driven by independents.

This should be seen as a warning sign to congressional Republicans. Republicans who are dragging their feet on the Trump-Russia investigation are in danger of taking ownership of this issue and being on the receiving end of more blame from voters. 

Voters are already less likely to reelect a Republican who refuses to hold Trump accountable on Russia and opposes an independent investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, including the firing of James Comey in the middle of his FBI investigation and Trump’s leak of classified information to the Russians, by a 56% to 13% margin.  That includes 55% of independents who say it makes them less likely support the Republican’s reelection.

Trump and Congressional Republicans Are in Trouble

Beyond just Russia and health care, Trump has entered dangerous territory on a range of other issues impacting voters’ lives.  Like with health care, these issues are not getting much attention in the press and therefore will be important to communicate on for progressive campaigns and allies. Nearly all of these numbers have gotten worse since our last tracking poll, many by significant margins.

When asked for reactions to what they have heard recently about Trump, voters had unfavorable reactions to Trump’s:

  • Dealings with Russia and Vladimir Putin
    • May: 26% favorable to 57% unfavorable
    • April: 22% favorable to 46% unfavorable
  • Health care policies
    • May: 27% favorable to 53% unfavorable
    • April: 25% favorable to 50% unfavorable
  • Economic policies
    • May: 35% favorable to 42% unfavorable
    • April: 36% favorable to 37% unfavorable
  • Immigration policies
    • May: 33% favorable to 51% unfavorable
    • April: 37% favorable to 46% unfavorable
  • Temperament and leadership style
    • May: 30% favorable to 59% unfavorable
    • April: 34% favorable to 51% unfavorable
  • Ability to work with Congress
    • May: 26% favorable to 49% unfavorable
    • April: 25% favorable to 46% unfavorable
  • Truthfulness in the things he says
    • May: 25% favorable to 57% unfavorable
    • April: 31% favorable to 50% unfavorable
  • Ability to get things done
    • May: 39% favorable to 47% unfavorable
    • April: 40% favorable to 42% unfavorable
  • Foreign policy and dealing with other countries
    • May: 36% favorable to 47% unfavorable
    • April: 36% favorable to 43% unfavorable
  • Dealing with the FBI and former Director James Comey
    • May: 26% favorable to 58% unfavorable
    • April: N/A

These troubles are not limited to Trump.  Support for Trump and his policies raises serious issues for congressional Republicans as well. Voters were asked whether each of the following issues would make them more or less likely to reelect their member of Congress:

  • A Republican who supports Trump’s proposed tax plan, which cuts taxes for millionaires and big corporations but will shift more of the tax burden onto the middle class. (15% more likely to 60% less likely)
  • A Republican who supports Trump’s proposed budget, which cuts many programs that people depend on like Meals on Wheels, after-school programs, student loans, job training programs, and medical research. (17% more likely to 56% less likely)
  • A Republican who supports Trump’s immigration priorities, including building a wall on the Southern border with Mexico and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, even children and people who have no record of serious crimes.  (27% more likely to 54% less likely)
  • A Republican who does not believe in climate change and supports Trump’s proposed cuts to EPA funding and policies which will be bad for the environment by reducing enforcement of air and water pollution laws. (17% more likely to 57% less likely)
  • A Republican who supports Trump’s agenda of rolling back access to legal abortion and denying health coverage for those who rely on Planned Parenthood. (17% more likely to 57% less likely)

About This Poll

Garin-Hart-Yang and Global Strategy Group conducted this poll by telephone May 18 – May 23, with a representative national cross section of 1,000 presidential year voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points, and care has been taken to ensure that the geographic and demographic divisions of the electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.