Despite the end of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and the continuing likelihood of a China trade deal, President Donald Trump's ratings saw little or no bump in early April after sharp gains in March, a new IBD/TIPP Poll shows.
The overall IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index, made up of three subindexes, fell 0.7% to 44.6 in April from 44.9 in March.
But among those three subindexes, readings were mixed. Trump's Favorability Index remained unchanged at 44.9, but his Job Approval rose 2.5% to 44.4. The Leadership Index, meanwhile, fell 4.1% to 44.6, coming on the heels of March's sharp 9.2% gain.
When asked to judge what kind of job President Trump is doing, 41% of Americans held a favorable opinion, unchanged from March and up two percentage points from February. His job disapproval continued to decline, falling to 52% in April from 53% in March and 57% in February.
Separately, Trump's net favorability rating remained at -9 in April. That number comes from subtracting the share with a favorable opinion of Trump's leadership, at 41% in April, from those with an unfavorable view, 50%. April's -9 net favorability compares with -15 in February, when the Mueller investigation, the partial government shutdown and Chinese trade talks dominated news headlines.
IBD/TIPP Poll: Mueller Investigation
"Despite having been cleared in the Mueller investigation, President Trump's approval rating did not move up significantly," noted Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the monthly IBD/TIPP Poll. "In the near future, Trump faces challenges related to immigration and concluding a deal with China. And his opponents want to continue the Mueller investigation."
Some in Congress, notably Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, have vowed to continue investigating the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, despite the Mueller investigation's conclusion that none existed.
"The public is supersaturated with investigations, and continuing them endlessly may have a negative blowback," Mayur added. "Trump must expand his base to win reelection and he continues to be challenged on this front. His approval ratings do not reflect the roaring economy and stock market. Though many Americans credit him for the good economy, they are unable to cross the threshold and become supporters."
The overall picture is also complicated by news reports of the U.S. southern border flooded by illegal entrants and rising concern among average Americans over border security.
IBD/TIPP Poll: Sharp Political Split
The political picture now has been muddied by the many names in the Democratic Party who have announced they're running for the presidency, pushing a broad spectrum of policies ranging from a Green New Deal and "Medicare for All" to a guaranteed income and tuition-free college education.
In March's poll, IBD/TIPP asked Americans how they felt about those policies, described by even some proponents as socialist. Those views were largely negative.
Among those queried, 55% viewed socialism unfavorably, while just 20% viewed it favorably. A larger share, 22%, said they didn't know enough to form an opinion.
As with many issues, Republicans and Democrats differed in their views, showing a widening ideological gap. Among Democrats, 40% held a favorable opinion of socialism, while just 24% viewed it unfavorably. Just 3% of Republicans held a favorable view of socialism, while 84% had an unfavorable opinion of it.
National Outlook Index
For the National Outlook Index, a key indicator of broad national sentiment, April's data also showed a modest pullback. The index fell 1.1% to 46.4 in April from 46.9 in May. But the dip followed March's big gains, triggered by the end of the government shutdown and China trade deal optimism. At 46.4, the National Outlook Index is just 0.1 point above its long-term average.
Among the National Outlook's subindexes, results were mixed. Presidential Leadership (-0.7% in April vs. +9.2% in March), U.S. Standing in the World (+2% vs. +10.7%), Morals and Ethics (-2% vs. +17.4%) and Direction of the Country (-2.7% vs. +27.6%) all showed only modest declines or increases.
The IBD/TIPP Poll also asked respondents to grade the president in a number of areas. Asked to grade Trump's performance in handling the economy, 45% gave him an A or a B grade. Of those questioned, 35% gave him a D or an F.
Not surprisingly, the current sharp split between the two major political parties was evident in this data, too. Among Democrats, just 11% gave Trump good grades for his economic performance, but 84% of Republicans did. For independents, 42% gave Trump high grades.
Trump did better with Democrats on the C grades, with 20% of Democrats giving him a grade of "average."
Among independents, 23% gave Trump a C grade. So the president got passing grades among the major political groupings with the exception of the Democrats.
IBD/TIPP: Financial Stress
Meanwhile, the Financial Stress Index, a proprietary gauge created by IBD/TIPP during the financial crisis, fell to 49.9 in April from 50.9 in March and 55.3 in February. A higher index indicates increased financial stress for individuals. April's reading is approaching the all-time low of 47.4 and remains well below the 58.8 average.
In recent weeks, strong job gains, the Fed's decision to hold off on further rate hikes, rising tax refunds, and increasing wages have all contributed to a greater sense of financial security.
All in all, the results suggest a nation whipsawed by the nonstop news cycle, political infighting and deepening schisms over major issues. These range from the economy and America's standing in the world to our morals, ethics and quality of life.
Methodology: IBD/TIPP conducted the April poll from March 28 to April 6. It includes responses from 902 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. (Top lines from the poll will post here later this week.)
The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.
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