President Donald Trump’s approval rating for handling the federal government’s response to recent hurricanes has dropped 20 points in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.
In mid-September, 64 percent of Americans said they approved of Trump’s handling of the U.S. hurricane response. That finding followed his administration’s handling of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the U.S. mainland in late-August and September. Now, as many Puerto Ricans remain without access to clean water or electricity nearly a month after Maria hit, just 44 percent say they approve.
In the weeks since Maria devastated the island, Trump’s response has vacillated between criticism and praise. He has used his Twitter account to contend that local officials aren’t doing enough to help and has threatened to withdraw assistance from the island entirely. At other times, he has praised the work of the military and first responders there.
In a Rose Garden news conference Monday, Trump mixed praise for the federal government’s response to the situation with criticism of local efforts, saying that ample supplies had reached the island but were held up by distribution issues.
“We have massive amounts of water,” Trump said. “We have massive amounts of food, but they have to distribute the food, and they have to do this. They have to distribute the food to the people of the island.”
The poll found Trump’s numbers on this score have dipped across party lines. His ratings are down 9 points among Republicans, 22 points among independents and 25 points among Democrats.
The decline also includes a steep drop in his approval rating on handling hurricanes among non-whites, from 52 percent in September to 25 percent now. Among Hispanics, approval for Trump’s handling of hurricane response has dropped from 49 percent in September to 22 percent now.
In the September poll, majorities of men and women and majorities across age groups approved of the way Trump was handling the Hurricane response. Now, among women, just 36 percent approve, while only 32 percent of those under age 45 approve.
The 64 percent approval rating Trump held on this issue in September was the highest the President had received for any issue in CNN’s polling since he took office in January, exceeding his previous high of 55 percent approval for handling the economy in March by 9 points.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone October 12 to 15 among a random national sample of 1,010 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.