WASHINGTON - As many as half of Michiganders are worried that President Donald Trump has authority to launch nuclear weapons while no more than that consider him mentally stable, said a new poll released Tuesday that found his support continuing to lag significantly in a state that helped send him to the White House.
The poll by EPIC-MRA of Lansing found that 62% of the 600 likely and active voters surveyed across the state have a negative view of Trump’s job performance, virtually matching the same firm's poll in May, when the pollster last asked the question.
But for this new poll, which was conducted by live interviewers from Aug. 27 through last Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, the pollster also asked a series of specific questions about Trump’s fitness to hold office and statements he has made since becoming president.
It found that 53% of respondents are either very or somewhat worried by Trump having access to nuclear launch codes and that it is a virtual tie — 45%-43% among those who believe the president is mentally stable or not. On the question of mental fitness, 12% were undecided.
“People are talking about it, whether it’s ‘Morning Joe’ (on MSNBC) or other national broadcasters. I’ve even heard them on FOX News discussing (questions) such as his mental health,” said EPIC-MRA pollster Bernie Porn. “I thought, ‘Why not ask them?’”
Since many of those questions have not been asked of Michiganders or voters nationwide in past polls involving Trump or other presidents, it’s impossible to say how the responses might compare then to now. But the results still show a level of vast voter discomfort with Trump in Michigan 10 months after his stunning victory here by less than 1% of the vote.
“To think that more than 40% (of Michiganders) think the president of the United States is potentially mentally unstable and 53% are worried about his having access to the nuclear launch codes … that’s kind of a stunning statement,” Porn said.
While the Free Press uses EPIC-MRA as its pollster, the polling company wrote and asked its own questions for this poll, releasing them first to the Free Press, WXYZ-TV and others they do business with. Porn also said his decision to ask the question about Trump was informed by comments made by policymakers in Washington about his behavior.
The poll found that even though Trump last November became the first Republican to win Michigan since George Bush in 1988, a clear majority of respondents — 56% — believe former Democratic President Barack Obama was a more effective president, compared to a third — 32% — who favor Trump.
EPIC-MRA also asked those surveyed whether they believe Trump’s statements that investigations by congressional committees and the Justice Department into whether his campaign colluded with Russians trying to interfere with last year’s election amount to a “witch hunt” by his political opponents.
Again, a majority — 55% — said they disagreed, compared to 34% who say they agree with Trump and 11% who were undecided or refused to answer.
The findings seemed to track with those that have suggested the president can count on a core of support from about 30% of the electorate. But with his first year in office quickly coming to a close and midterm elections looming next year, his overall numbers could result in other Republicans trying to distance themselves from Trump.
That could prove to be much more the case if it's believed that Trump is untrustworthy as commander-in-chief, a question the poll clearly raised doubts about.
Asked how much they “worry” that Trump has access to the codes to launch nuclear weapons at a time when North Korea has been testing nuclear weapons and Trump has threatened to respond with “fire and fury,” 38% of respondents said they were very worried and 15% that they were somewhat worried.
That compared to 9% who said they were only a little worried and 38% who said they were not worried at all.
Meanwhile, 45% of those surveyed said they consider Trump a mentally stable person based on his behavior in office, which is a virtual tie with the 43% of respondents who, according to the poll, consider him a mentally unstable person.
Trump continues to have backers in Michigan, however: Thirty-six percent of those surveyed gave him a favorable job rating, down a point from May. Fifty-six percent gave him unfavorable marks, up 3 percentage points from May’s poll.
Trump’s high unfavorable numbers swamped favorable responses in practically every region of the state — they were 58%-32% in metro Detroit — except Up North, where his 56% favorability rating beat an unfavorable rating of 37%. Even in typically Republican-friendly country in west Michigan, Trump’s unfavorable number (56%) was 20 percentage points higher than his favorable one.
The president still scored well among self-described Republicans, however, with 76% giving him favorable marks, compared to just 4% of Democrats. Among the important group of independents, however, 56% gave him unfavorable marks, compared with 27% who gave him favorable reviews and 17% who were undecided.
Those results somewhat tracked the results on the more specific questions about Trump, with Democrats more worried about his holding the nuclear access codes and questioning of his mental state than Republicans. Among independents, it was a virtual tie (51%-47%) as to whether they worried about his access to nuclear armament; on the mental stability question, 44% of independents questioned it, while 38% said he seemed mentally stable to them. Seventeen percent were undecided.
Antipathy to Trump appeared to cross lines of age, race, education and religion in Michigan, according to the poll, with majorities of each giving him unfavorable marks. The only demographic in which it was closer was among men, 48% of whom gave Trump unfavorable remarks compared to 43% who viewed his job performance favorably. Sixty-two percent of women gave him unfavorable marks so far.
He did even better with Republican men as a whole, with 82% viewing him favorably compared to 11% who did not. Among Republican women, 69% viewed him favorably compared to 20% who did not.
In metro Detroit, Trump suffered poor marks in Oakland (55% unfavorable, 32% favorable) and Wayne (67% unfavorable, 25% favorable) counties but did far better in Macomb County, which helped deliver Trump the election last year: It was a virtual tie there in terms of his performance, with 48% giving him unfavorable marks and 44% viewing him favorably.
© 2017, Detroit Free Press