Ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans say Trump can keep busi­nesses, poll shows


Bloomberg News

— Two-thirds of U.S. adults think Don­ald Trump needs to choose be­tween be­ing pres­i­dent or a busi­ness­man, but slightly more — 69 per­cent — be­lieve it goes too far to force him and his fam­ily to sell their busi­ness em­pire to avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est.

The first Bloomberg Na­tional Poll since the elec­tion shows 51 per­cent of those sur­veyed are very or mostly con­fi­dent the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man will put the na­tion’s best in­ter­ests ahead of his fam­ily’s fi­nances when he deals with for­eign lead­ers.

The pres­i­dent-elect has made a vague pledge on Twit­ter that he will seek to dis­tance him­self from his busi­nesses to avoid any ap­pear­ance of a con­flict, although ethics ex­perts have sug­gested that sell­ing his cor­po­rate as­sets is the only sure way to sep­a­rate them from his new po­si­tion of power. He has sched­uled a Dec. 15 news con­fer­ence to ad­dress the topic.

The poll un­der­scores the con­tin­u­ing cost of a vir­u­lent pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the chal­lenges in bridg­ing the po­lar­iza­tion that re­mains. While 55 per­cent of the re­spon­dents say they’re more op­ti­mistic about a Trump pres­i­dency be­cause of his ac­tions and state­ments since the Nov. 8 elec­tion, 35 per­cent are more pes­simistic. Among Trump vot­ers, 87 per­cent say they’re more op­ti­mistic as op­posed to the 69 per­cent of Hil­lary Clin­ton vot­ers who say they’re more pes­simistic.

Trump is, how­ever, en­joy­ing the post-elec­tion bump in pop­u­lar­ity com­mon among win­ning can­di­dates. He’s viewed fa­vor­ably by 50 per­cent, up from 33 per­cent in Au­gust. But that’s still well be­low Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 78 per­cent fa­vor­a­bil­ity in a Jan­uary 2009 Gallup poll af­ter his first-term win.

At least for now, Amer­i­cans are also al­low­ing Trump some room for flex­i­bil­ity re­gard­ing his pre­elec­tion po­si­tions. Al­most three­quar­ters say it’s ac­cept­able for him to re- cal­i­brate his cam­paign pledges, in­clud­ing re­vers­ing him­self on call­ing for the pros­e­cu­tion of Clin­ton for her use of a pri­vate email server while she was sec­re­tar y of state.

“The pub­lic seems to be giv­ing him a long leash,” said poll­ster J. Ann Selzer, who over­saw the sur­vey. “Most Amer­i­cans don’t seem con­cerned about him chang­ing po­si­tions that were the core of his cam­paign.”

Amer­i­cans do want the of­ten­com­bat­ive Trump to be less con­fronta­tional, with 79 per­cent


say­ing he should tone down the vitriol he dis­played on the cam­paign trail. That in­cludes 65 per­cent of those who voted for him.

While still low by his­toric stan­dards, the share of Amer­i­cans who see the na­tion headed in the right di­rec­tion — 37 per­cent — is at its high­est level in a Bloomberg Na­tional Poll since Fe­bru­ary 2013.

Still, al­most half — 49 per­cent — think the coun­try is headed in the wrong di­rec­tion, although that’s down from 68 per­cent in Au­gust. The change can mostly be at­trib­uted to Trump sup­port­ers, with al­most two-thirds now pos­i­tive about the na­tion’s di­rec­tion.

Trump’s fa­vor­a­bil­ity rating of 50 per­cent in­cludes 51 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents and 16 per­cent of Democrats and those who lean that way. That’s only slightly be­low Obama, who is viewed pos­i­tively by 56 per­cent and scores a 54 per­cent job ap­proval rating.

Amer­i­cans have con­fi­dence Trump will de­liver on some of his cam­paign pledges, while they’re skep­ti­cal on oth­ers. Al­most seven in 10 think Oba­macare will be re­pealed and re­placed and al­most two- thirds ex­pect his ad­min­is­tra­tion will cre­ate trade deals with other na­tions that are more ben­e­fi­cial to the U. S.

Amer­i­cans are more di­vided – 50 per­cent yes and 44 per­cent no — on whether he’ll re­ally be able to in­vest $ 1 tril­lion in roads, bridges and other in­fra­struc­ture projects. On his pledge to make life bet­ter for those liv­ing in in­ner cities, 45 per­cent think he’ll ac­com­plish that and 51 per­cent don’t.

More than half — 57 per­cent — don’t ex­pect him to de­port mil­lions of im­mi­grants liv­ing in the U. S. il­le­gally, while 65 per­cent don’t ex­pect him to ac­tu­ally build a wall along the Mex­i­can border.

A plu­ral­ity of 47 per­cent want con­gres­sional Democrats to mostly go along with the agenda Trump and Repub­li­cans put for­ward dur­ing his first year in of­fice, while 28 per­cent say they should mostly op­pose and 25 per­cent are un­sure.

There’s a sharp par­ti­san di­vide when it comes to those peo­ple Trump has se­lected for his Cabi­net. Over­all, 51 per­cent ap­prove of his se­lec­tions so far, with 91 per­cent of Trump vot­ers ap­prov­ing and 76 per­cent of Clin­ton vot­ers dis­ap­prov­ing.

A 48-per­cent plu­ral­ity don’t want to see Oba­macare re­pealed un­til there’s a re­place­ment ready, while 19 per­cent say re­peal­ing first is fine and 27 per­cent want the pro­gram left alone.

Another par­ti­san di­vide sur­rounds the Elec­toral Col­lege, which al­lowed Trump to win the White House even as Clin­ton col­lected at least 2.5 mil­lion more votes.

A ma­jor­ity of 54 per­cent say the pres­i­dent should be picked by the pop­u­lar vote, a num­ber that jumps to 80 per­cent among Democrats and those who lean that way. Among Repub­li­cans and those who lean that way, 68 per­cent back the Elec­toral Col­lege.

Dur­ing his hon­ey­moon pe­riod with Amer­i­cans, Trump is mostly com­pet­i­tive with Obama when poll par­tic­i­pants are asked to pick who they think will ul­ti­mately do a bet­ter job on key is­sues.

Obama has the ad­van­tage only on for­eign pol­icy, 51 per­cent to 40 per­cent, while Trump does bet­ter on jobs and em­ploy­ment (54 per­cent to 39 per­cent) and Wall Street bank­ing reg­u­la­tions (50 per­cent to 38 per­cent). Amer­i­cans are more closely split on which man will ul­ti­mately do a bet­ter job on health care, im­mi­gra­tion and na­tional se­cu­rity.

In re­gards to re­la­tions with other na­tions un­der a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, ma­jori­ties ex­pect things to get worse with Iran (70 per­cent), Mex­ico (62 per­cent) and China (54 per­cent). Ma­jori­ties ex­pect im­prove­ments with Rus­sia (62 per­cent), the U.K. (60 per­cent), Is­rael (56 per­cent) and Ger­many (52 per­cent). There’s divi­sion on Cuba, with 44 per­cent say­ing bet­ter and 46 per­cent worse.

Trump’s White House vic­tory ap­pears to be boost­ing the stand­ing of other Repub­li­cans, with each Repub­li­can tested in the poll scor­ing higher fa­vor­a­bil­ity rat­ings than in the pre­vi­ous poll.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is viewed pos­i­tively by 47 per­cent, up from 40 per­cent in Au­gust. In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice pres­i­dent-elect, is seen fa­vor­ably by 48 per­cent, up from 43 per­cent in Au­gust.

Fa­vor­a­bil­ity scores for other Repub­li­cans close to Trump or be­ing con­sid­ered for ad­min­is­tra­tion jobs in­clude for­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani at 47 per­cent, 2012 Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney at 42 per­cent and for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich at 42 per­cent.

Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus, Trump’s in­com­ing White House chief of staff, re­mains un­known to many Amer­i­cans. He’s viewed pos­i­tively by 32 per­cent and neg­a­tively by 28 per­cent, while 40 per­cent say they’re not sure.

That’s also the case for Steve Ban­non, a con­tro­ver­sial se­nior ad­viser to Trump who will be join­ing him in the White House. He’s viewed more neg­a­tively than pos­i­tively, 37 per­cent to 27 per­cent, while 36 per­cent don’t have an opin­ion.

The Repub­li­can Party is also viewed fa­vor­ably by more re­spon­dents than the Demo­cratic Party, 44 per­cent to 42 per­cent. The Demo­cratic num­ber is un­changed since Au­gust, while the Repub­li­can one has surged up from 35 per­cent. The score for the Repub­li­can Party marks the first time in the his­tory of the poll, which started in Septem­ber 2009, that as many feel good about that party as bad.

While 55 per­cent say the Demo­cratic Party is in need of a ma­jor over­haul fol­low­ing its elec­toral losses in Novem­ber, just 39 per­cent of Democrats and those who lean that way go that far. Mod­est changes are sup­ported by 44 per­cent of the party’s faith­ful and those who lean that way.

Asked who should be the lead­ing voice for the new mi­nor­ity party, Obama is the choice for 25 per­cent of Democrats and those who lean that way, fol­lowed by Sen. Bernie San­ders of Vermont at 24 per­cent, Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts at 17 per­cent, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and Hil­lary Clin­ton both at 11 per­cent and for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton at 7 per­cent. Even among her own vot­ers, Clin­ton ranks fourth be­hind Obama, War­ren and San­ders.

The 2016 Demo­cratic nom­i­nee is viewed fa­vor­ably by 41 per­cent of Amer­i­cans, es­sen­tially un­changed from Au­gust. San­ders, who was Clin­ton’s pri­mary ri­val, is viewed pos­i­tively by 53 per­cent.

Bi­den, a 74-year-old vet­eran of Wash­ing­ton who this week sug­gested he might run for pres­i­dent in 2020, is viewed pos­i­tively by 56 per­cent. Among Democrats and those who lean that way, 87 per­cent see him fa­vor­ably.

The poll of 999 Amer­i­can adults has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 3.1 per­cent­age points, higher among sub­groups. It was con­ducted Dec. 2-5 by Iowabased Selzer & Co.


A re­cent poll found that the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans be­lieve Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump should not be forced to sell his busi­nesses once he be­comes pres­i­dent in or­der to avoid con­flicts of in­ter­est.

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