New Priorities USA Poll: Trump Risks Losing Base Over Firing of Mueller, Pardons for Family

August 02, 2017


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Priorities USA
Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group
Global Strategy Group
DATE: August 2, 2017
RE: New Priorities USA Poll: Trump Risks Losing Base Over Firing of Mueller, Pardons for Family


Health care and the Russia investigation continue to exert a major drag effect on Donald Trump’s presidency—and a new tracking survey commissioned by Priorities USA shows that new steps threatened by Trump on each of these two issues might only worsen his standing.

On Russia, Trump has sent signals that he may seek to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in order to short-circuit the investigation into his administration. But 80% of voters, including two-thirds of Trump’s own supporters, believe Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation.

On health care, following the failed Senate repeal vote, Trump has lashed out against defenders of the Affordable Care Act and threatened to withhold payments to insurers in order to undermine the law. But a clear majority (75%) of voters say this threat makes them view Trump less favorably, with 64% of Trump’s own voters saying he and Republicans have a responsibility to implement and improve the Affordable Care Act.

This data shows Democrats have a strong hand to play to pressure Trump against considering either strategy. On health care, Trump’s threats to withhold insurer payments should be cast as nothing less than sabotage of the insurance markets that would directly lead to premium hikes. On Russia, it is important to stress the need to allow the investigation to run its course without political interference, as well as the bipartisan support for legislation to reappoint Mueller even if Trump were to try to get rid of him.

Voters Don’t Like What They’ve Heard Lately About Trump

Voters have an unfavorable opinion on what they’ve heard about Trump on a wide range of issues over the past few weeks. This includes his economic policies (30% favorable vs. 43% unfav), ability to get things done (32% fav vs. 50% unfav), his truthfulness (29% fav vs. 54% unfav) and his temperament and leadership style (28% fav vs. 56% unfav).

But two issues stand out above the rest. By a 30-point margin (26% fav vs. 56% unfav), voters have an unfavorable view of Trump’s health care policies. And by a 34-point margin (22% fav vs. 56% unfav), voters have an unfavorable reaction to Trump’s response to the FBI’s investigation of his campaign.Yet on both these two issues, Trump is reportedly plotting fresh steps that are highly unpopular.

Trump and the Russia Investigation

If President Trump decides to fire Mueller or issue pardons for himself or his family members he would face stiff opposition from voters, including from those who voted for him in 2016.

When asked if Trump should fire Mueller or let him complete his investigation, 80% of voters, including 65% of Trump voters, said Mueller should be allowed to complete his investigation, while just 10% (21% of Trump voters) think Trump should fire Mueller.

If Trump does go through with the firing, 61% of voters say Congress should pass a law to re-appoint Mueller and let him complete his investigation.
It has been reported that President Trump has been exploring the possibility of pardoning himself or members of his family. 71% of voters, including a plurality of Trump voters, disapprove of Trump taking advantage of pardons in this way versus just 19% who approve.

Based on these findings, Democrats should feel empowered to draw a clear line in the sand, warning that any firing of Mueller would represent an abuse of Trump’s power that would be greeted with real consequences. Some congressional Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham are already promising legislation guarding against the possibility of a Mueller firing; this further bolsters Democrats’ position if a constitutional crisis should arise.

Trump’s Threats to Make Health Insurance Markets Implode

When asked about President Trump’s plan to make Obamacare fail, 56% of voters say it makes them feel less favorably toward Trump, compared to just 32% who view him more favorably. Overall, 75% of voters – including 64% of Trump voters – say that President Trump and Republicans in Congress have a responsibility to implement and improve the Affordable Care Act to help provide health care for the American people.
Our research found that Trump’s confidence in his ability to sabotage health insurance markets on purpose, and then blame Democrats for the wreckage, is misplaced. After hearing messaging about the need for Trump and the Republicans to work with Democrats to improve Obamacare, three-fourths (75%) of voters agreed with the statement that Trump and the Republicans have a responsibility to improve our health care system, versus just 16% who said Republicans should “let Obamacare fail.”

A related message – focused on how “Trump and the Republicans are trying to make Obamacare fail, with the Trump administration even running a public relations campaign against Obamacare using tax dollars that were supposed to be for helping people sign up for health insurance” – also produced a strong response. 69% of voters who heard this message said they agreed that Trump and the Republicans have a responsibility to improve the health care system, versus just 19% who said Republicans should “let Obamacare fail.”

About this Poll

Global Strategy Group and Garin Hart Yang Research Group conducted a live telephone survey of 1,013 presidential year voters nationwide, from July 24th to 27th, 2017. The results of this survey have a margin of error of +/-3.1%. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the electorate are properly represented.