President Trump's approval rating lingers at historic lows, from 36 percent approval to 41 percent favorable, but things are looking better for the president in "Trump counties," or 439 key counties in 16 states identified by NBC News/Wall Street Journal pollsters where Trump outperformed 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney or flipped the county from former President Barack Obama. In these counties, Trump's approval rating sits at 50 percent, with 46 percent disapproval, as The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib explains, pointing out some interesting nuances. (Obama's approval rating in these counties: 50 percent positive, 38 percent negative.)
On specific issues and attributes, Trump's policies are broadly more popular than his personal qualities, the poll found. Trump's most popular policy, bargaining with Carrier and GM to keep jobs in the U.S., had the support of 75 percent of respondents, with 14 percent disapproving. These voters also mostly liked his threats against North Korea (68 percent approve/22 percent oppose), attack on Syria over its chemical weapons use (66/22), and travel ban against six majority-Muslim nations (53/38). The numbers are more mixed on the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch (38/22) and firing FBI Director James Comey (33 approve/42 disapprove), and mostly negative on pulling out of the Paris climate accord (32/48) and calling critical media coverage "fake news" (38/49).
Trump also got low marks on trying to repeal and replace ObamaCare (33 percent approve/54 percent disapprove), refusing to release his tax returns (25/53), and dealing with Russia and its interference in the U.S. election (20/51). His highest disapproval number was for his use of Twitter, however, with 62 percent opposed and 24 percent in favor. "Without a doubt, Donald Trump's personal style was part of his appeal in the 2016 campaign," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who conducted the poll with GOP pollster Bill McInturff. "But more and more it appears to be a distraction that is starting to hit a sour note with his base."
Still, 55 percent of "Trump county" respondents agreed that the U.S. political and economic system is stacked against them, higher than the 43 percent national number from a WSJ/NBC poll five months ago, and by a two-to-one margin they said Trump is bringing the right kind of change to Washington politics. A 43 percent plurality is unwilling to predict if Trump's presidency will be a success, but 27 percent said they think it will be and 30 percent said it won't. The poll was conducted July 8-12 among 600 adults, and it has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.