Americans have a dim view of president Donald Trump‘s crackdown on protests against racial inequality, with 36% approving of the president’s handling of the issue he has cast as a matter of law and order, according to a poll released Friday morning.
The ABC News/Ipsos poll found that Trump’s approval rating is way underwater on three major campaign issues – the pandemic, the protests and dealings with Russia – and also show the Republican incumbent in some trouble with his most loyal voters.
Slightly more than a third – 34% – approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, a number similar to the 33% approval he had in an Ipsos poll earlier this month. The numbers indicate that Trump’s recent efforts to pivot on the crisis – holding briefings, wearing the occasional mask and promoting an unproven treatment, hydroxychloroquine, for the virus – have not made an impact.
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Americans also do not give Trump high marks for his dealings with Russia, with 36% approving of his approach to America’s old Cold War foe. While Russia is dwarfed, as a campaign issue, by the virus and the tanking economy, the numbers are not helpful to a president who has insisted allegations his campaign colluded with Russia are a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” Trump is also on the defense amid reports that Russia paid the Taliban bounties for the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
But it is the pushback on the Trump administration’s aggressive crackdown on protests that is perhaps most problematic for Trump as he enters the final three months before Election Day.
The ABC/Ipsos survey found that 30% of Americans think having federal law enforcement officers respond to protests in cities makes the situation better and 52% believe the approach makes it worse. Another 19% say it has no impact one way or the other.
Those disapproving include 55% of whites, 92% of African Americans and 72% of Hispanics. Further, just 42% of white, non-college educated Americans, an important part of Trump’s base, think Trump’s crackdown is making things better, while 37% of that group think the approach is making things worse.
The president earlier this month sent federal law enforcement agents to Portland, Oregon, to quash protests there against racial injustice. Local elected officials and protesters have railed against the tactics used by the agents, including tear gas, rubber bullets and taking protesters away in unmarked vehicles for questioning. Trump has deemed the protesters “anarchists and agitators,” and his attorney general, William Barr, said the actions were necessary to protect the federal courthouse in Portland.
Trump has responded to mass protests over the death of George Floyd by casting himself as the “law and order” president. That tactic worked for then-candidate Richard Nixon in 1968, also a time of civil unrest over racial inequality, and…