CNN poll: Trump approval steady, but more say he's leading in the wrong direction

Story highlights

  • Just 32% approve of Trump's relationship with Republicans in Congress
  • Republicans trust Trump over congressional GOP to handle major issues
  • Democrats more unified than Republicans on generic ballot

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's approval rating holds steady in a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, but that overall stability belies declining views on how things are going in the country today.

Overall, 37% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency, 57% disapprove -- virtually identical to his marks in late September. But the percentage who say things in the country are going well has fallen from 53% in August to 46% now, about the same as after Trump's tumultuous first weeks in office.
And as the White House pushes for congressional action on tax reform and takes steps to modify Obamacare on its own, few say they think Trump's policies will bring about positive change. Around four in 10 (38%) say the policies Trump has proposed will move the country in the right direction, 56% say the wrong direction. Back in March, that was a near-even split.
    Even fewer approve of Trump's approach to Republicans in Congress. Overall, 32% approve of the way the President is handling his relationship with Republicans in Congress while 54% disapprove.
    Although Trump said on Monday that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were "closer than ever before," the relationship has been marked by sharp criticism from Trump toward both McConnell and his House counterpart Speaker Paul Ryan. But the tension seems to be playing well with Trump's base.
    Among Republicans, 68% say they approve of the way Trump is handling the relationship, further evidence that the GOP laity prefers Trump's approach to that of congressional Republicans. Asked directly whether they trust Trump or the congressional Republicans to handle major issues facing the country, 63% of Republicans choose Trump, 29% said Republicans in Congress.
    That's not true among the overall public, though. Nearly half (47%) overall say they have more confidence in the GOP in Congress to handle major issues facing the country vs. 30% who say they have confidence in Trump. A sizable 17% trust neither.
    Amid that Republican divide, the poll also finds Democrats holding a lead in the generic congressional ballot -- 51% to 37% overall, driven by a unified base of Democrats. Nearly all self-identified Democrats (98%) say they prefer the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, compared to 88% of Republicans who prefer the GOP candidate in their district. Among independents, Democrats have an edge of just four points, within the margin of sampling error for that group.
    Reviews of the President's handling of some issues have worsened recently, according to the poll. Trump's approval on environmental policy has dipped 10 points since earlier this year, down from 42% back in March to 32% now. The Trump administration has rolled back Obama administration rules on clean power and vowed to abandon the Paris climate agreement in recent weeks.
    Trump's decline on the issue comes almost entirely among younger Americans. Among those under age 45, just 24% approve of Trump's handling on the issue now compared with 40% in March. Among people age 45 or older, there's been just a small shift, from 45% approval then to 39% now.
    Findings from the poll released last night showed that Trump's approval rating for handling recent hurricanes has fallen 20 points from a mid-September 64% approval to 44% now.
    The poll also measured Americans views on gun laws following the shooting deaths of 58 people in Las Vegas earlier this month. Support for stricter gun laws is slightly lower than it was after last year's shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando (52% favor stricter laws now vs. 55% last June). But the share saying stricter gun laws would reduce the number of gun-related deaths in the country has risen compared with 2015 (46% now vs. 40% in June 2015).
    The country remains divided over whether government and society can take action that will be effective in preventing mass shootings -- 47% say yes, 49% no -- though that is the highest share to say yes since CNN began asking this question after mass shootings starting with the January 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona.
    Almost two-thirds support a ban on bump fire stocks (63%), more than support a ban on extended ammunition magazines (54%) or high-powered rifles capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15 (49%). A narrow majority opposes limiting the number of guns an individual can own (46% favor it, 51% oppose it), and more than 8 in 10 oppose preventing all Americans from owning guns (86% oppose that, 11% favor it).
    The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone October 12 to 15 among a random national sample of 1,010 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.