WASHINGTON – Roughly half of Minnesotans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance and believe he lacks the temperament needed to lead the country, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows.
As Trump reaches the 100-day mark in the White House, only 40 percent of voters in the state approve of the job he is doing, a historic low, while 51 percent disapprove, the poll found. Only 44 percent of those polled believe that Trump is generally truthful.
“I think he’s mean; I think he doesn’t have any attributes that would bring honor to this country,” said Karen Anderson of Golden Valley, who participated in the poll. “I just think he’s a terrible person.”
But the poll shows a stark divide by geography and party. A majority of Minnesotans outside the Twin Cities metro area continue to support Trump, who narrowly lost the state in November but racked up big vote totals across rural Minnesota. He is also holding onto his core supporters: Of those who voted for Trump last fall, 87 percent still approve of his job performance so far. And Republicans continue to back him strongly, with 82 percent registering their approval.
Jerold Sandberg, who lives in the northwestern Minnesota town of Menahga, said Trump is leading America in the right direction.
“He’s acting like he wants to do something with the country,” said Sandberg, 76, who also believes Trump is honest. “He says it in a way where he’s kind of forcing it on you, but I think in the long run he does tell the truth. He’s not that familiar with politics yet, but he’ll learn.”
The poll of 800 registered voters, conducted between April 24 and 26, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Among independent voters, about half of those surveyed disapprove of the president’s job performance, with 38 percent saying they approve of his job so far.
“He’s not that bad, not as bad as I expected,” said Judith Tamanaha, a Bloomington resident who voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson for president. “We can bear with it.”
During his first 100 days in office, Trump has unsuccessfully sought congressional support to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to restrict travel by immigrants from a half-dozen majority Muslim countries. He ordered a missile strike in Syria in response to chemical attacks on civilians there, signed executive orders rolling back many regulations on business, and released outlines of a broad tax-cut proposal. In perhaps his most high-profile success, the Senate confirmed his Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
The Minnesota Poll results are similar to national surveys showing that Trump’s approval rating is in the low 40s, with roughly half of Americans disapproving of his performance. A recent Gallup poll found that Trump’s national approval rating averaged 41 percent during his first quarter, lower than any president in the company’s polling history. But he’s as popular within his own party as past presidents, Gallup found.
In the history of the Minnesota Poll, Trump’s numbers mark a low point for a president at the beginning of the term. The only president with a comparably low approval rating was Gerald Ford, who took office after Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace. Eight years ago, Barack Obama registered a 62 percent approval rating at the end of his first 100 days. It should be noted that the Star Tribune has used different pollsters over time, and that polling methodology has evolved.
On one issue that Democrats have tried to use to hammer Trump — his unreleased tax returns — the poll shows further divisions. Thirty-six percent say it’s “very important” that Trump release his returns and another 17 percent say it’s “somewhat important”; 46 percent say it’s either not important, or not too important.
Party identification heavily skewed the numbers: Two-thirds of Democrats polled said Trump should make his taxes public, while just 9 percent of Republicans said he should.
“I think any president should have to be more open,” said Michael Schelmeske, 60, of Grand Marais. “It doesn’t matter what party — I want to know. I want our nation to know.”
Schelmeske disapproved of Trump’s actions on a range of issues, but particularly feared that the president’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and other moves toward deregulation could pollute the air and water in his town on Lake Superior.
In the Minnesota Poll, support for Trump also split along gender lines, with 46 percent of men saying they approved of his performance, compared to 35 percent of women. And the stark geographic splits apparent in last year’s election carried into the new poll: Trump registered just 24 percent of support from those polled in Hennepin and Ramsey counties; he also fell short of majority approval in the other suburban counties of the Twin Cities area.
But in northern Minnesota, Trump earned 53 percent approval in the poll. He did nearly as well in southern Minnesota, at 50 percent support. Views of his temperament and truthfulness were similarly divided in the Twin Cities and the rest of the state.
The president’s lowest approval numbers in the poll are among Minnesotans between the ages of 18 and 34. Older Minnesotans who were polled approve of Trump at somewhat higher rates, although people over the age of 65 disapproved of Trump at the same rate as those 34 and under — 54 percent. Older poll participants were less likely to be undecided on Trump’s tenure so far.
People who made less than $50,000 a year were slightly more supportive of Trump than those who made more.
In the poll, opinions of Trump’s temperament closely mirrored their overall approval of him.
Sara Niaz Maqsudi, a 55-year-old Savage resident who voted for Clinton, believes that Trump’s demeanor has improved.
“In the beginning he was really bad, but it’s changed now,” said Niaz Maqsudi.
Maya Rao • 612-673-4210