(CN) – President Donald Trump not only weathered the “send her back” controversy, but according to one poll released Monday his approval rating is the strongest of his presidency.
The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll put the president’s approval rating at 44% – his best showing since being elected. Nevertheless, Trump remains a deeply unpopular president, with 52% of those polled saying they disapprove of his job performance.
However, those polled were a little kinder to the president on the paramount issue of the economy, as 52% approve of how Trump is handling the national economy with 44% percent disapproval.
It remains unclear if Trump has made inroads with anyone outside the Republican base in this regard. While 89% of Republicans approve of his handling of the economy, only 9% of Democrats expressed approval and more importantly only 38% of independents approve. A majority of the all-important independent voter block (55%) disapproved of Trump’s guiding of the national economy.
But those same independent voters also disapproved of some of the more salient ideas offered up by a full slate of Democratic candidates vying to win the party nomination and unseat Trump next November.
“Independents are on the fence overall,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, which conducted the poll. “They’re not willing to grant President Trump re-election, and yet they’re not persuaded by Democrats at this point.”
Medicare for all, abolishing the electoral college, decriminalizing illegal border crossings, health insurance for undocumented people, providing reparations for slavery and universal basic income are all policy proposals popular with the progressive segment of the Democratic electorate. But they poll poorly with the general population.
“These would be issues where people would say the Democratic Party is too far to the left,” Miringoff said.
Democrats do have several policy proposals attractive to the entire electorate – none more so than requiring background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows or other private sales. A full 89% of those polled expressed approval for the idea, including 84% of Republicans.
While Medicare for all was panned by those polled, voters expressed approval for a plan that allows all citizens to opt in to Medicare while letting those with private health insurance to keep their plans. Seventy percent of those polled approved, including 46% of Republicans and 70% of independents.
Government regulation of prescription drug prices, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, national legalization of marijuana, a Green New Deal investing government funds in renewable energy technologies and higher tax rates for millionaires all enjoyed the support of at least 60% of respondents.
Those polled are more split on free college tuition (53% in favor, 43% opposed) and a tax on carbon-based fuels (50% in favor, 44% opposed).
Also made clear by the polling numbers is the gulf between Republicans and Democrats. Registered voters in both parties maintain vastly differing views of what constitutes good policy ideas.
Many of the splits relate to climate change.
For instance, 81% of Democrats said they thought rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement was a good idea compared to just 18% of Republicans. Independents typically tacked closer to Democrats, with 53% saying the U.S. should rejoin the landmark United Nations agreement.
Another contentious issue was Obamacare. A large majority – 78% – of Democrats said Obamacare should not be repealed while the same percentage of Republicans said it should. Independent responses were more mixed, with 49% saying a repeal of the health care legislation is a bad idea and 45% saying it was a good idea.
The poll was conducted July 15-17, one day after Trump’s tweet saying four freshmen Congresswomen of color should “go back” to their countries of origin. It involved 1,336 adults and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.