Poll: Voters Say Trump Shows Leadership But Are Less Sure of Its Direction

Voters say President Donald Trump has shown leadership in his first 40 days in office, and more approve of his job performance than do not, but they are split on his policies, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today national poll of registered voters. 

Moreover, a majority of voters disagree with the president’s declaration that the news media are “enemies of the American people” and believe that Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election should be investigated.

Fifty-five percent of voters, surveyed in the days immediately following Trump’s hour-long speech to Congress, said that Trump has shown leadership in his first 40 days in office, while 41 percent disagreed. Voters are less definite on the fruits of his leadership. While 47 percent approve of the job Trump is doing and 44 percent disapprove, they are divided on his policies, which have the approval of just over 46 percent of voters, while slightly less than 46 percent disapprove.

A majority (52 percent) said they believe that the United States is in an economic recovery, while 25 percent indicated stagnation, 7 percent said recession, and 6 percent indicated a depression. The economic recovery perception is up 9 points from the 43 percent recorded in December and 18 points above September’s 34 percent figure. Since the November election, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen from 18,000 to a record high of 21,000.

“Donald Trump’s strongest suit has been the economy,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “His early tweets about saving jobs and taxpayer money on federal contracts were well received. But when he veers off that track he opens himself up for criticism, even by members of his own party.”

Journalism and Russia

Trump’s claim that journalists and the media are the enemy of the American people does not appear to have traction, according to the poll. Nearly 59 percent disagreed with Trump’s assertion, while 34 percent agreed. Meanwhile, 48 percent believe the news media is right when they say they are holding the White House accountable, but 42 percent agreed with Trump’s statement that the news media is unfair and biased against him.

Voters believe that the issue of Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election is a serious issue that needs attention. Nearly 63 percent said the issue is very/somewhat serious, while 31 percent said it was not very/not at all serious. And 58 percent believe there should be an outside independent investigation into allegations of contacts between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign, while 35 percent disagreed.


More than 60 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s temperament, while 30 percent approve. Trump’s tweeting fared similarly, with 59 percent saying he should stop tweeting so much and 28 percent saying his tweets are a good way to communicate directly with Americans.


While Trump pledged to leave Social Security and Medicare alone during the campaign, his new budget director has warned that these programs are driving up the budget deficit. More than 72 percent of voters supported protecting Social Security and Medicare from any cuts, while 22 percent said that policymakers should take steps to control the growing costs of Social Security and Medicare.

On immigration, 49 percent opposed accelerating the deportation of illegal immigrants who have not committed a serious crime, while 40 percent supported Trump’s rigorous deportation policy. Regarding the so-called “Dreamers” —young people who were brought illegally to this country as children—63 percent said they should continue to be protected from deportation, while 22 percent said that the United States should remove that protection.

On the Affordable Care Act, the bane of Republicans since its passage early in the Obama administration, 17 percent want an immediate repeal, while 25 percent said Congress shouldn’t touch Obamacare at all, and nearly 50 percent said that Congress should repeal the law only after a comprehensive replacement plan is in place.

Recent incidents of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats at Jewish schools and community centers have voters concerned, with 62 percent saying this recent activity reflects a rise in anti-Semitism in the country, while 23 disagreed.


The nationwide survey of 1,000 voters was conducted March 1-5 using live telephone interviews of households where respondents indicated they were registered to vote. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].