Trump and Republicans losing ground on creating jobs as most voters now trust Democrats more, poll finds

Kellyanne Conway, however, said team Trump believes voters ultimately will blame House Democrats

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 12 August 2020 15:59
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Updated at 12:38 p.m. Voters are pinning equal blame on Donald Trump, congressional Republicans and Democrats in Congress for failing to strike a fifth coronavirus relief package – but a majority now trusts Democrats more to handle the coronavirus pandemic and create jobs, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Asked about any worries on team Trump about voters blaming the president for the going-nowhere talks about a new Covid-19 recovery bill, White House counselour Kellyanne Conway tried to shift blame to House Democrats. "I think [voters are] going to blame the Congress because they saw Congress absent from their job most of the last several months," she said. "Voting virtually, they're not here when they do show up. I mean, some of them are on TV more than they're in the negotiating room or in the hearing room."

Most of those surveyed (35 per cent) for a new Morning Consult-Politico poll blame Democrats for stalled negotiations towards another Covid-19 relief measure. But 27 per cent blame congressional Republicans and the president.

The White House is backing away from striking a bill that would encompass most of both parties' major demands, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday endorsing a "half" deal now – and potentially another one down the road.

"But, you know, my view on a negotiation is you agree on the things that you can agree on, pass legislation that's good for the American public, and then come back always for another bill," he told Fox Business Network. "And I think the Democrats are very focused on the politics. Perhaps they think that any deal is good for the president and that's why they don't want to do it."

But Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Mr Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows of not negotiating in good faith.

"Last week, they came up with some meager proposals and the president then over the weekend did even less [than] give an illusion so that the market would go up and people would think who are not paying attention that he might be doing something," she said, appearing to refer to executive orders Mr Trump signed on Saturday that he contends would shield people from evictions, extend unemployment benefits and suspend payroll tax collections.

(She has called those orders "absolutely unconstitutional, but Democratic leaders have yet to say if they will sue to block them.)

As the two sides continue doing more bickering than negotiating amid a still-spreading virus and rising death toll, voters now trust Democrats to bring back jobs lost to the pandemic. Mr Trump and Republicans had long had the advantage on public opinion there, and the pre-Covid economy was set to be Mr Trump's 2020 campaign cornerstone.

Forty-three per cent of those polled by Morning Consult and Politico want Democrats to take the reins of job-creation, compared to 41 per cent who still trust Republicans and Trump more on the issue.

So confident is Mr Trump in his economic stewardship before the pandemic hit that on Tuesday he claimed that George Washington, the country's Revolutionary War commander and first president, would not have defeated him in a one-on-one race.

The president boasts almost daily about the state of the economy before coronavirus, and points to the still-high levels of US stock indexes when making his economic pitch to voters. But economists say those markets fail to reflect the true state of what they have called an economy in recession with high, though improving, unemployment.

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