The collapse of the North Korea summit may have cost Trump his best issue

Trump: Hope Kim Jong Un will do what is right
Trump: Hope Kim Jong Un will do what is right


    Trump: Hope Kim Jong Un will do what is right


Trump: Hope Kim Jong Un will do what is right 04:19

(CNN)President Donald Trump has pulled out of a summit with North Korea next month, and Americans are likely not going to be pleased.

Unlike a lot that has happened during the Trump administration, Americans were actually happy with the direction Trump was taking on North Korea.
Earlier this month, a CNN poll found that 77% of Americans approved of Trump's decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That included 92% of Republicans, 79% of independents and even 62% of Democrats. In that same poll, Trump's approval rating among Democrats for his overall job performance was just 9%.
Perhaps more interesting is that Trump was gaining overall positive marks for the entirety of his North Korean approach. In the CNN poll, 53% of approved of how he was handling relations with North Korea. That was up from 43% in March and 35% last November. It was also significantly higher than his 41% job approval rating overall and his 42% approval rating on foreign affairs.
    Indeed, Trump's approval rating on North Korea was higher than it was for any other issue tested by CNN.
    Amazingly, it was higher than Trump's ratings on the economy, which has historically been among Trump's best issues and was probably helping to drive up Trump's approval rating despite the constant disarray in the White House.
    Trump's handling of North Korea may have been at least partially responsible for his recent uptick in the polls. While there is no way to know what, exactly, has driven up Trump's approval rating over the last few months, it's probable that seeming to appear more presidential and doing stuff that presidents normally do helped. Trying to negotiate peace with a longtime adversary like North Korea may have been part of that effort.
    Americans, though, seem to have appreciated Trump's efforts without actually expecting anything to occur from them. Although Americans were gaining confidence that the situation with North Korea was going to be resolved without conflict, only 41% of them said they were confident of that in a CBS News poll conducted earlier this month. The same poll found that 56% of Americans thought that a meeting between Trump and Kim would either make the situation between the two countries worse or result in no change.
    Americans, simply put, doubted that North Korea was really ever serious about negotiating over its nuclear program. A Pew Research Center poll taken in late April and early May discovered that only 38% of Americans believed that North Korea was "serious about addressing international concerns about their country's nuclear enrichment program." And when it came to actually giving up nuclear weapons, a very low 19% of voters in an April Quinnipiac University poll said they thought North Korea would.
    The big question after the failure to have a summit is whether Americans will sour on the idea that economic and diplomatic efforts can resolve the situation with North Korea. Back in March, 63% of respondents told CNN that they thought those methods could resolve the crisis. In the same poll, 45% of Americans favored military action against North Korea if economic and diplomatic efforts failed. That was nearly equal to 46% who were opposed. Among those who approved of Trump's job performance, 65% favored military action if economic and diplomatic efforts failed.