Voters Favor Trump’s Economy, Anti-Terrorism: Poll

By Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
July 5, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

A majority of American voters approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy, job creation, and fighting terrorism, according to a recent Harvard/Harris poll.

The poll found that Trump had attracted the support of 58 percent of registered voters on the issue of stimulating jobs and 57 percent on the economy and fighting terrorism.

The economy has been beating expectations for over a year, with unemployment dropping to 3.8 percent in May, the lowest level since 1969. Job openings in April reached 6.7 million, more than one for each person considered unemployed.

Trump’s lowest mark was on government administration (with 45 percent approval), while 46 percent of respondents approved of his work on immigration and 47 percent on foreign affairs.

Immigration topped the list of the most important issues facing the country, the poll showed.

Trump has assumed a tough stance against illegal immigration—a position favored by the majority of American voters.

Voters decidedly preferred secure borders to “basically open borders” (76 percent to 24 percent) and stricter immigration law enforcement versus looser enforcement (70 to 30). Sixty-one percent also considered current border security to be inadequate.

The voters overwhelmingly opposed separating illegal immigrant families at the border (88 to 12), but 61 percent said the families should be sent back home and 53 percent said the families should be kept in detention while their cases are being processed.

Also, 63 percent favored the recent Republican immigration reform proposal that gives illegal immigrants brought here by their parents work permits and a path to citizenship in exchange for overhauling the legal immigration standards to increase merit-based preference over preference for relatives, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and funding a barrier on the U.S.—Mexico border.

Trump’s overall lower mark on immigration contrasts with general support for his specific policies, but aligns with the negative media coverage he’s received.

As part of the “zero tolerance” policy announced in April to strictly enforce existing immigration laws, the administration has been prosecuting all illegal border crossers. According to the Department of Homeland Security, between April 19 and the end of May, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their “alleged adult guardians,” who brought them into the country illegally.

Normally, in the United States, if an adult is apprehended for a crime, their children do not accompany them to jail. Last year, more than 20,000 children across the country were placed into foster care while their parents were incarcerated.

The separations at the border, however, dominated media coverage for several weeks, sparking outrage, until Trump signed an executive order to adjust the policy to keep the families together during detainment.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the solution is only temporary because the government will eventually run out of detention space for families, as they have been pouring over the border by the thousands, traveling across Mexico from turbulent Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

On foreign policy, voters decidedly approved (74 percent) of Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Fifty-seven percent believed the meeting “offers a viable path for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons” rather than being just a diplomatic show.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) said Trump deserves credit for the meeting.

Trump’s leveraging of the threat of tariffs to win more favorable trade terms from nations around the globe was approved by 59 percent. The same percentage supported Trump’s threat of $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and products if China does not take steps to correct its trade deficit with the United States.

On the other hand, voters seem wary of a trade war, fearing it would cost jobs and raise consumer prices. While 55 percent would support imposing tariffs on cars and electronics “to reduce U.S. trade deficits and keep jobs at home,” only 44 percent would support the same move if it would increase consumer prices.

Voters were split (51 to 49) on imposing tariffs on the G-7 allies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union).


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Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.