Political News

CNN Poll: Americans don't support Trump's tariffs or foreign policy

Posted June 20, 2018 4:52 p.m. EDT

— Six-in-10 Americans would rather maintain good relationships with countries that have been close allies to the US than impose tariffs to protect US industries, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

Only a quarter of respondents prioritize the tariffs and protecting US industries. The question was asked after President Donald Trump's imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods, such as aluminum, tin, and electronic products.

Trump's behavior at the G7 summit in Canada earlier this month did nothing to help his standing with the American public and their view of how he's handling foreign trade. The number of Americans who approve of how Trump is handling foreign affairs has moved down since May, to just 39%; the same is true for his rating on foreign trade and his overall approval rating.

Two-thirds of Americans believe that foreign leaders do not respect Trump. And picking a fight with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may not have been such a good idea -- Trudeau has a higher favorable rating among the US public than Trump does, at 40% for the President and 49% for the Prime Minister.

But for the low marks Americans give Trump, they give his economy a thumbs up.

Sixty-six percent of Americans think current economic conditions are good; 59% say the economy will be in good shape a year from now. Those numbers sound pretty good, but combined with a poll taken in November, that 7-point difference between confidence in the current economy versus where people think it will be in a year is something never seen before in nearly two decades of polling. CNN has asked that pair of questions 57 times since 1997, and has found a gap like that only twice -- never more than four points, and never in consecutive polls.

The groups where the biggest difference occurred included a 17-point drop among those whose salary is $50,000 or more from saying the economy is currently good (80%) to those who say it will be good in a year (63%). A drop was also seen among college students (16-point loss), those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing (12-points), and Democrats (11-points).

Last November, however, there was a 9-point difference, followed by the 7-point margin in the current poll. It's at best a very early warning indicator, but if this pattern persists, the US public may be entering a new era of economic pessimism.

The poll was conducted by SSRS among a random national sample of 1,012 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.