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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mr Popular redux

by digby

New CBS poll:

President Trump's job approval rating has dipped in recent weeks, pushed down by negative reaction to his handling of the Russia investigations, and he's seen some slippage among Republicans as well. A third of Americans say his approach to the issue has made their opinion of him worse, and his handling of that matter gets lower marks than any of his others, like the economy or terrorism, for which he rates higher.

Americans of all stripes do seem inclined to want to get to the bottom of things: most believe that the Special Counsel Mueller's investigation will be impartial, and that the president should not do anything to try to stop it -- a view that also runs across partisan lines.

But divisions remain not only over what happened in the Russia matter, but whether it is serious or not. Most who approve of the President say it is not serious. Most Republicans feel the President is being criticized more than his predecessors and for some of them, that just makes them back the President even more.

Of the issues on which Americans evaluated President Trump for this poll, they give the president his most negative marks on his handling of the Russia matter -- just 28 percent approve, while 63 percent disapprove. A third say the president's approach to this issue has made them think worse of him.

Republicans approve of how Mr. Trump is handling the Russia issue, but in far lower numbers (at 57 percent) than their support for the job he's doing on the issues of the economy (80 percent) and terrorism (77 percent).

Even as some in their ranks disapprove of how the President is handling the investigation, most Republicans don't think the issue is serious. Just one in five Republicans thinks it is a critical security matter, and more than half call the investigations a political distraction that should be put aside. Even among Republicans who think it at least somewhat likely the Trump campaign had improper communications with Russia, just a third view the issue as critical to national security.

I would just like to invite you to imagine what Republicans would be saying if the show were on the other foot. It's unfathomable that they would be so sanguine about a Democratic presidential campaign having operatives involved with Russia.

More Americans say their opinion of Mr. Trump has grown worse, not better, because of his handling of the Russia investigations. Still, for most (including majorities of Republicans and independents), his approach to the issue hasn't caused their view of him to change.

The percentage of Americans who thinks it is at least somewhat likely that Mr. Trump's campaign associates had improper contact with the Russian government has also risen a bit in recent months -- from 59 percent in March to 65 percent today.

Movement here is driven primarily by Republicans: 40 percent now think it is at least somewhat likely that Trump associates had improper contact with the Russian government, up from just a quarter in March.

More than six in 10 Americans now believe Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, an increase from March when only half believed this, but less than half think this interference was in order to help Donald Trump get elected. Republicans are also more likely now than they were in March to think Russia interfered in the 2016 election (though most remain skeptical that it was in order to help the Trump campaign).

By a margin of more than two-to-one, Americans think Donald Trump is more interested in protecting his administration from investigation (64 percent) than protecting the United States from Russian interference (30 percent). Here, most Republicans break with Democrats and independents in defending the President, but one-third do feel the President is more concerned about his own Administration.

They believe all this about him and it's fine with them. They don't care.

A majority of Americans think at least something improper occurred in those meetings with James Comey, though just over a quarter think his actions rise to the level of illegality. Most Republicans don't think the president did anything wrong at all.

Of course not. If he'd gotten a consensual blow job, that would have been an impeachable offense. If he'd had private email server they would have wanted him locked up in jail.

It's just partisanship. But still, this stuff is different than anything I've seen in my lifetime. We've never had a counter-intelligence investigation inside the oval office and we've never had a president who failed to take something like the intrusion in the election by a foreign power seriously.

The good news is that we'll never have to take their flag-waving, USA! USA!, "these colors don't run" crapola seriously ever again.