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Trump's standing with Americans tumbles after his response to George Floyd protests

'Some of most divisive of presidents could unite the country around something. But not Trump – it's just not who he is,' GOP strategist says

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 10 June 2020 17:32 BST
Cuomo attacks Trump over ANTIFA conspiracy

Americans have a less-favourable view of Donald Trump than before he walked out of the White House gate last week for a photo op made possible by federal officers firing "pepper balls" and tear gas at American citizens.

The president shocked the world last Monday evening when his attorney general, William Barr, ordered federal law enforcement officers and National Guard personnel to forcibly remove protesters from the area in front of St John's Church near the White House. Mr Trump soon strolled over with Cabinet members and West Wing aides, the smell of the munitions choking some reporters chronicling Mr Trump's trek.

Mr Trump held up a Bible outside the historic church, where he and other US presidents have worshipped at least once.

Yet, only 27 per cent of those surveyed for a new Politico-Morning Consult poll view the president as a religious person. Fifty-five per cent of those polled strongly disagreed with the notion the former New York businessman and reality television host is religious.

Several other polls released last week showed Mr Trump losing support among deeply religious white voters. The Politico-Morning Consult survey suggested more trouble with a voting bloc that is central to Mr Trump's base: Half of Christians (50 per cent) do not see him as religious, and only just over one-third do.

After the Floyd death and sometimes-violent protests, 54 per cent of those surveyed called the president racist. That's a 4-point increase from January.

Mr Trump, who summoned his campaign team to the White House last week for an emergency meeting over declining poll numbers that sometimes put former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of him by double-digits nationally, also is only viewed as knowledgeable by 39 per cent of those polled, a 7-point drop since January.

And on whether the president is viewed as compassionate and stable, voters answered in the affirmative on the former 31 per cent of the time and on the latter 34 per cent of the time. That's a 5-point and 7-point drop, respectively.

Mr Trump on Tuesday drew some GOP pushback -- but mostly from a small handful of usual lawmakers like Senators Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski – by tweeting a Russia-linked conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old man Buffalo police officers knocked to the ground last week is an Antifa member.

There is growing concern among some Republican political operatives that Mr Trump's hard line instincts, including in response to the protests, could cost him a second term and hurt other GOP candidates.

"This is a man who further inflames and divides," one Republican strategist said, referring to the president. "He has done not a single thing in his presidency that would unite the country. ... Some of most divisive of presidents could unite the country around something. But not Trump – it's just not who he is."

Recent polls suggest a shift to Mr Biden because "he's in a better position to talk to folks in the middle and calm them down," the GOP strategist said. "He's got credibility on dealing with civil strife that this president never will have. ... People are tired. With Trump, it's a day in-and-day out dream sequence. They seem, at least right now, to desperately want a return to normalcy."

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