A divided, yet optimistic country awaits Trump

When president-elect Donald Trump addressed America after winning the election, he emphasized uniting the country.  A new Fox News Poll suggests that could be a challenge.

In addition, President Obama leaves office on a high note.  More on that later.  

First, only one-third of voters describe the national mood as “we’re all in this together.”  Nearly twice as many feel like it’s everyone for themselves.  And half say they’re tired of politics and “want it to go away.”

Voters also split over whether opportunities in the country favor “other people” or people like them.  

Still, two-thirds feel optimistic about the economy (66 percent).  In a rare instance of unity, majorities of independents (61 percent), Democrats (64 percent), and Republicans (72 percent) share this sunny outlook.

Who do voters credit for the recent rise in the stock market?  More say Trump (23 percent) than outgoing President Obama (13 percent), but a 56-percent majority credits regular market cycles.  Republicans (47 percent) are far more likely to credit Trump than Democrats are to credit Obama (26 percent).  

optimistic_small1 A divided, yet optimistic country awaits Trump America

When asked about the importance of several issues, voters put the economy as item number one on Trump’s to-do list.  

Almost half say it is “extremely” important for him to focus on the economy/jobs in his first year (46 percent).  Nearly as many say terrorism (44 percent) and health care (43 percent).  Fewer give that same urgency to government spending (38 percent), foreign policy (34 percent), Supreme Court nominations (33 percent), and immigration (27 percent).  Only 13 percent feel the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is extremely important.

A separate fill-in-the-blank question gave voters the chance to name whatever they thought should be Trump’s top priority.  They could pick an issue, an action — anything.  Again, the economy comes in number one (25 percent).  Health care (12 percent) and unite the country (12 percent) round out the top three.  

By a 50-40 percent margin, voters say Trump’s doing a bad job of listening to people like them, and a 54-percent majority disapproves of how he’s handling the presidential transition.  Thirty-seven percent approves, with the most enthusiasm coming from Republicans (73 percent), white evangelical Christians (64 percent), conservatives (63 percent), and whites without a college degree (52 percent). 

Views on Trump as a person are similar, as 42 percent of voters have a favorable opinion (21 percent strongly), and 55 percent unfavorable (44 percent strongly).  That’s a net negative of 13 points.  

His two immediate predecessors had more appeal when they began their terms.  When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, his rating was a net positive of 61 points (76 percent favorable, 15 percent unfavorable).  George W. Bush had a net positive of 27 in January 2001 (58 percent favorable, 31 percent unfavorable).  

What accounts for the difference?  Some 27 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Bush in 2001, and 55 percent of Republicans had a positive view of Obama in 2009.  Today, only seven percent of Democrats have a positive opinion of Trump.  Obama’s favorable rating among Republicans has dropped to 19 percent.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence’s rating is a net positive of eight points:  45 percent favorable vs. 37 percent unfavorable.

Meanwhile, by an 11-point margin, more men than women have a favorable opinion of Trump (48 vs. 37 percent), and men are also 12 points more likely than women to say the president-elect is doing a good job listening to people like them (46 vs. 34 percent).  

That closely matches the gender gap in Trump’s election support, as men were 11 points more likely than women to vote for him (52-41 percent), according to the 2016 national Fox News exit poll.  Women were 13 points more likely than men to vote for Hillary Clinton (54-41 percent).  

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,006 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from January 15-18, 2017.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.