(CN) – Despite weeks of upheaval in the White House and months of political turmoil, more than four in ten Americans now approve of President Donald Trump’s job performance, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The Marist Poll, a national public opinion poll operated by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said President Trump’s approval rating stands at 42 percent. In Southern states, his approval rating is as high as 49 percent.
Half of U.S. residents, slightly down from 54 percent, disapprove of how the president is performing in office, according to the poll. Eight percent say they are unsure.
The number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump’s performance is at the highest level since he took office in 2017, and up from 38 percent he received in Marist’s survey conducted Feb. 20-21.
In recent weeks, Trump fomented geopolitical tension with a call for international trade tariffs on steel and aluminum. He’s also facing a number of domestic political battles over issues such as gun control and immigration reform. Personnel changes at the White House have grabbed headlines, highlighted this week by the resignation of economic adviser Gary Cohn.
The issues of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have many Americans worried. According to the poll, 64 percent of Americans overall think a tariff on these materials will increase the prices of products they purchase.
Trump also faces looming challenges over the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election and potential meddling in upcoming midterm elections.
According to the poll, 51 percent of respondents think Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference has been fair.
“Even if President Trump’s policies are not initially popular, he benefits from focusing discussion on the issues,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “If the White House chatter distracts and overshadows the president’s agenda, his standing suffers.”