Suffolk University/USA Today Poll: Voters Expect Trump to Upend Obama Accomplishments

President-elect’s business conflicts and Russian hacking seen as issues

While President Barack Obama will leave office with high favorability and job approval ratings, a majority of voters (59 percent) expect that President-elect Donald Trump will dismantle Obama’s legacy, and many don’t seem to mind, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today national poll of registered voters.

Obama’s job approval rate was 54 percent, and yet 45 percent of those polled said that reversing his accomplishments would be a good thing, while 43 percent would disapprove.

“A majority of voters said that history will assess Barack Obama as a great or good president,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “And yet, there appears to be a disconnect, as so many voters are unconcerned that the job he did could be undone.”

Trump transition

The survey showed voter concern about Trump’s approach to his personal holdings and Russian hacking.

Fifty-three percent of voters said Trump should do more to prevent conflicts of interest between his business interests and the country’s interests, while 35 percent said he has taken the necessary steps.

A majority (57 percent) were very/somewhat concerned about U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russian state interests tried to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, while 38 percent were not very/not at all concerned. However, a majority (62 percent) said that Congress and the new Trump administration should investigate the allegations of Russian interference, while 33 percent disagreed.

Voters placed a priority on Trump’s addressing jobs creation and preservation (46 percent), terrorism/ISIS (17 percent) and “draining the swamp” in Washington, D.C. (15 percent).

Trump supporters showed some flexibility in their expectations, with 50 percent saying that, as president, he should do what he thinks needs to be done, even if that means reversing his campaign positions, while 39 percent said that he should closely follow the promises he made.

One of the programs Trump has promised to replace is Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which has been targeted by Republicans since it passed in 2010. Voters were divided in their views of the administration’s approach to health care and the Affordable Care Act, with 27 percent saying Obamacare was the president’s worst failure and 24 percent saying it was his greatest achievement.

Electoral College

In a week when the Electoral College confirmed Trump’s election and Clinton’s popular vote majority continued to climb, 50 percent of voters said that the U.S. election system should remain unchanged, while 42 percent said they would favor a Constitutional amendment that would have the president elected by popular vote.

2020: A look into the crystal ball

When Democrats and independents were offered some possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Bernie Sanders (44 percent) and Vice President Joe Biden generated the most excitement (43 percent), with Sen. Elizabeth Warren favored by 34 percent of voters. However, most voters would like to see “someone new” (66 percent). Another Hillary Clinton run would excite 23 percent of voters, while 15 percent were indifferent to a Clinton candidacy, and 62 percent said she shouldn’t run.


The nationwide survey of 1,000 voters was conducted Dec. 14-18 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].



Greg Gatlin
[email protected]

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Suffolk University Political Research Center