As Election Nears, Few Americans Back Trump’s Behavior

(CN) – A majority of Americans dislike the way President Donald Trump conducts himself in office, though most Republicans still favor his policy positions, the Pew Research Center found in a survey published Thursday.

In a survey of 6,395 adults between Feb. 4 and Feb. 15, researchers found that 53% of overall respondents said they “don’t like” Trump’s personal conduct, averaged from 85% of Democratic respondents and 16% of Republican respondents. However, the low Republican disapproval belied a 50% majority who had “mixed feelings” about the president’s conduct.

President Donald Trump holds up a newspaper with a headline that reads “Trump acquitted” as he speaks in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

These mixed feelings were demonstrated in moral characteristics about Trump. For example, majorities of respondents from both major political parties said the president is self-centered (73% for Republicans and 87% for Democrats), but most Republicans also viewed him as intelligent (86%), a strong advocate for his beliefs (87%), honest (71%) and generally morally upstanding (62%).

Researchers stratified Republicans by age, education level and intraparty ideologies, and all demographics indicated either a plurality or majority of respondents with mixed feelings about Trump’s personal conduct.

Among Republicans, post-graduates, moderates and those who say they only lean Republican were most likely to dislike the president’s personality at 26%, 28% and 25%, respectively. Those most likely to like the president’s personal conduct were Republicans older than 65 (38%), those with a high school diploma or less (40%) and those who self-identify as Republicans rather than leaning Republican (39%).

In contrast, fewer than 20% of Democratic respondents affirmed any of the characteristics with positive connotations. Instead, they viewed Trump primarily as self-centered (87%) and prejudiced (79%).

Republicans were far more confident in the president’s ability to fight for their beliefs than their feelings about his personal conduct. For example, 51% of Republicans overall said Trump fights for their beliefs “very well,” and 36% said he does so “fairly well.”

The Republican demographics most likely to approve of his personal conduct were also the most likely to believe that the president fights for their beliefs. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans over 65 said he fights very well for his beliefs, 56% of those with a high school diploma or less said the same, as well as 61% of self-identified Republicans.

On policy, the vast majority of Republicans approved of Trump’s policy stances on most to nearly all issues. Overall, 80% of Republicans supported at least “many” of the president’s policies, if not “all or nearly all” of them. Parallel with the rest of the data, 54% of those over 65, 44% of those with a high school diploma or less, 50% of conservatives and 49% of self-identified Republicans aligned with the president all or nearly all the time on policy.

Trump’s personal Twitter account, a lightning rod for controversy even in conservative circles, is perhaps the best example of his personality on display. For example, the president’s pinned tweet Thursday featured an edited video clip from the “Star Wars” parody film “Spaceballs” with former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s face superimposed over villain Dark Helmet during a futile attempt to strike hero Lone Starr with a lightsaber. Trump’s face was superimposed over the Starr character’s face, and the tweet was captioned, “Mini Mike, you’re easy!”

Earlier in the day, Trump once again referred to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in response to her withdrawal from the Democratic presidential primary.

On policy, the president’s Twitter account was focused on the outbreak of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. He denied Thursday that he directed Americans infected with the virus to go to work, and instead blamed cable news network MSNBC – which he called “MSDNC,” an apparent reference to the Democratic National Committee – and its parent company, Comcast, for negative coverage.

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