By LAURIE KELLMAN and JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press

Congress may be in the doghouse with the American public, but the broader government — especially the military — gets high marks for keeping the nation safe and secure, a new poll suggests.

What’s more, nearly seven in 10 Americans are trying to make things better by volunteering, a sign that optimism survives in a nation riled by partisan policy fights and economic uncertainty.

“It’s very healthy because it indicates that although we are annoyed, skeptical and have less trust than we’d like in our institutions, we are not hopeless,” said David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, which partnered on the poll with The Associated Press. “We believe that the bedrock values and principles that we built our society on are right.”

The public’s contempt for Congress exceeds that of other American institutions, including banks, major corporations and the media. The broader government’s performance “making sure that our nation is safe from foreign and domestic threats” received an uptick in confidence from 53 percent a year ago to 72 percent now. And a growing number of people said the government is doing a good job of “making sure all Americans feel safe, secure and free,” up from 54 percent in August 2010 to 63 percent now.

The military in particular earns the most respect of the survey, with 54 percent deeply confident in the institution.

But deep contempt for Congress and aspects of President Barack Obama’s health care law remain among Americans tired of partisan standoffs over basic pocketbook issues. The Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll of 1,000 adults, conducted Aug. 18-22, found that 57 percent have little or no confidence in Congress, up from 49 percent last year.

So while Boise, Idaho, retiree Dale Shoemaker, 54, feels safer, he doesn’t give the nation’s political institutions credit.

“I think we’re more secure. There are a lot of professional, talented people doing a tremendous job,” Shoemaker, who used to consider himself a Republican but now is more of an independent. “But the leadership of the Congress and the Senate are not making decisions about what to do, and they’re leaving people hanging.”

It’s notable news on the brink of an election year for Obama, the health care law’s chief author and the one who made the call in May to take out terrorist chief Osama bin Laden. Congress, too, is taking note of its estimation in the eyes of the voting public as both parties gird for battle over control of the House and Senate.

No party profited politically from the standoff over the nation’s finances much of the year, especially by the unseemly debt limit dispute that earned the nation a credit rating downgrade and sank approval ratings for all policymakers involved. The bickering continued even as the unemployment rate refused to drop much below 10 percent.

A poll last month found the infighting sank Congress’ approval rating to 12 percent.

Congress and the broader government give Americans heartburn, with one central feature of Obama’s signature health care overhaul standing out as an example. More than eight in 10 people surveyed — 82 percent — say the federal government should not have the power to require Americans to buy health care insurance. Politically important independents were more aligned with Republicans on the mandate question, with 87 percent who don’t identify with one of the two major parties saying government should have no right to require insurance; 95 percent of Republicans agreed, according to the poll.

“I just think that people should have the right to buy health insurance, or not,” said Daisy Mallory, 78, a retired factory worker from of La Grange, Ill., who says Medicare covers her health care costs. Obama, she said, may have misjudged public’s opposition to health care mandates. “I think he understands it better now,” she said.

Obama himself acknowledged that his party took a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterm elections, when Republicans made the health care law and the Democrats who muscled it through Congress their Issue No. 1 — and won enough seats to control the House. Obama has said he believes the Supreme Court will uphold the law’s constitutionality, but Republicans continue to mention it as a key example of government overreach that they would repeal.

But after nine months in control of the House, Republicans haven’t boosted the public’s view of Congress.

In the AP-NCC poll, just 8 percent say they are confident in the people running Congress, 10 percent in the federal government. Majorities of Republicans and Democrats lack confidence in congressional leaders, with politically crucial independents showing the sharpest increase in distrust of Congress over the past year. That’s up from 49 percent in 2010 to 62 percent now

Even so, most Americans feel safe and more have confidence in the government to keep it that way, the poll shows.

The uptick in approval for the government’s handling of national security crosses party lines, but Republicans have shifted sharply. Last year, just 32 percent of Republicans gave the government positive reviews on keeping the nation safe; now, 61 percent of Republicans agree on that. And on making sure Americans feel “safe, secure and free,” the same group has jumped from 33 percent who said the government is doing a “good job” to 54 percent now, the poll shows.

The urge to contribute through volunteerism remains strong, according to the poll. Nearly six in 10 Americans say the country needs more sense of community and people helping one another. Most — 69 percent — have volunteered in the past year. Eight in 10 said they have made a charitable donation of $25 or more during that time.

The AP-National Constitution Center poll was conducted Aug. 18-22 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellular telephone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

How the poll was conducted

 

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Associated Press-National Constitution Center Poll on trust in U.S. institutions was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from Aug. 18-22. It is based on landline and cellphone telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,000 adults. Interviews were conducted with 700 respondents on landline telephones and 300 on cellular phones.

Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline and cellphone numbers.

Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, education and race. In addition, the weighting took into account patterns of phone use — landline only, cell only and both types — by region.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 4.1 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults in the U.S. were polled.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

The questions and results are available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com .

 



AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and EMILY SWANSON

NEW YORK (AP) — More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries to overtake Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign. They are more likely to trust Clinton to handle a variety of issues facing the country, and Trump has no advantage on the national security topics also at the forefront of his bid.

Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of support, seen clearly among the thousands of backers who fill the stands at his signature rallies. But most people don’t share that fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November.

Only one in four voters find him even somewhat civil or compassionate, and just a third say he’s not at all racist.

“We as Americans should be embarrassed about Donald Trump,” said Michael DeLuise, 66, a retired university vice president and registered Republican who lives in Eugene, Oregon. “We as Americans have always been able to look at the wacky leaders of other countries and say ‘Phew, that’s not us.’ We couldn’t if Trump wins. It’s like putting P.T. Barnum in charge. And it’s getting dangerous.”

To be sure, the nation is sour on Clinton, too. Only 39 percent of voters have a favorable view of the Democratic nominee, compared to the 56 percent who view her unfavorably. Less than a third say they would be excited or proud should she move into the White House.

“I think she’s an extremely dishonest person and have extreme disdain for her and her husband,” said one registered Republican, Denise Pettitte, 36, from Watertown, Wisconsin. “I think it would be wonderful to elect a woman, but a different woman.”

But as poorly as voters may view Clinton, they think even less of Trump.

Forty-four percent say they would be afraid if Clinton, the former secretary of state, is elected, far less than say the same of Trump. He’s viewed more unfavorably than favorably by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin, and more say their unfavorable opinion of the New Yorker is a strong one than say the same of Clinton, 50 percent to 44 percent.

That deep distain for both candidates prompts three-quarters of voters to say that a big reason they’ll be casting their ballot is to stop someone, rather than elect someone.

“It’s not really a vote for her as it’s a vote against Trump,” said Mark Corbin, 59, a business administrator and registered Democrat from Media, Pennsylvania.

Roughly half of voters see Clinton at least somewhat qualified, while just 30 percent say Trump is.

Even when it comes to what may be Clinton’s greatest weakness, the perception that she is dishonest, Trump fails to perform much better: 71 percent say she’s only slightly or not at all honest, while 66 percent say the same of Trump. Forty-nine percent say Clinton is at least somewhat corrupt, but 43 percent say that of Trump.

“Whatever her problems are, they don’t even come close to him,” said JoAnn Dinkelman, 66, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who will cross party lines and vote for Clinton. “Everything that comes out of his mouth that is fact-checked turns out to be a lie.”

Trump finds no respite with voters when it comes to what he vows to do as president, either.

Nearly 6 in 10 oppose his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and only 21 percent of his supporters and 9 percent of registered voters overall are very confident he would succeed at fulfilling his promise that Mexico would pay for the construction.

Six in 10 believe there should be a way for immigrants living in the country illegally to become U.S. citizens — a view that Trump opposes.

“The wall isn’t the answer. It’s not feasible and Mexico won’t pay for it,” said Timothy Seitz, 26, a graduate student at the Ohio State University and a Republican. “We should be leaders. We shouldn’t cower from others and cut ourselves off in the world.”

Beyond immigration, voters say they trust Clinton over Trump by wide margins when it comes to health care, race relations and negotiations with Russia. She also narrowly tops Trump when it comes to filling Supreme Court vacancies, as well as another of the billionaire’s signature issues: handling international trade.

Trump is narrowly favored on creating jobs, 39 percent to 35 percent, while in general, voters are about equally split on which candidate would better handle the economy. Voters are slightly more likely to trust Trump than Clinton on handling gun laws, 39 percent to 35 percent.

Voters are closely split on which candidate would better handle protecting the country and evenly divided on which would better handle the threat posed by the Islamic State group. And Americans are much more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump to do a better job handling the U.S. image abroad.

___

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters plus or minus 2.7 points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

___

Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


Deplorable? Trump more so than Clinton, AP-GfK poll finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was supposed to be her “47 percent” moment.

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables,” Republicans thought they just might have found her campaign-crushing-blunder.

The gaffe, they hoped, was a way to cement an image as an out-of-touch snob, just as Democrats did four years ago to Mitt Romney after he said “47 percent” of voters backed President Barack Obama because they were “dependent on government.”

 But a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Clinton’s stumble didn’t have quite the impact that Trump and his supporters wanted. Instead, it’s Trump who’s viewed as most disconnected and disrespectful.

Sixty percent of registered voters say he does not respect “ordinary Americans,” according to the poll. That’s far more than the 48 percent who say the same about Clinton.

Trump supporters had begun showing up at his rallies with shirts and signs riffing on the word “deplorable.” The hashtag #BasketofDeplorables began trending on Twitter, as the Republican nominee’s backers demanded an apology. At a rally last week in Florida, Trump walked out to a song from the play Les Miserables.

“Welcome to all you deplorables!” he shouted, standing in front of a backdrop that read, “Les Deplorables.”

But the poll findings underscore how Trump’s no-holds-barred approach may be wearing on the country. Despite efforts by his campaign to keep him on message, his image as an outspoken firebrand who brazenly skips past societal norms appears deeply ingrained among voters.

Nearly three in four do not view him as even somewhat civil or compassionate. Half say he’s at least somewhat racist. Those numbers are largely unchanged from the last time the AP-GfK survey was conducted in July.

Even among those saying they’ll most likely vote for Trump, 40 percent say they think the word “compassionate” doesn’t describe him well.

“He was always a decent guy even with his marriages and everything,” said David Singer, a retiree from Simsbury, Connecticut. “But when he got on the debate stage something happened to him. The insults just got me crazy. I couldn’t believe what he was telling people.”

Trump is viewed unfavorably by 61 percent of registered voters, and Clinton by 56 percent. But despite her similarly high unfavorability rating, voters do not hold the same negative views about her as they do of Trump.

Only 21 percent believe she’s very or somewhat racist. Half say she’s at least somewhat civil and 42 percent view her as compassionate.

Democrats see Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric as a major campaign asset — for them. Clinton’s campaign spent much of the summer casting Trump as a dangerous force in American society, one that consorts with racists, anti-Semites and white supremacists.

“Our most cherished values are at stake,” Clinton told students at Temple University on Monday. “We have to stand up to this hate. We cannot let it go on.”

It’s a strategy lifted right out of the party’s 2012 playbook. Four years ago, Democrats seized on a leaked video showing Romney at a private fundraiser in Florida dismissing “47 percent” of voters who pay no income tax, people who believe “the government has a responsibility to care for them” and would automatically vote for Obama.

The comment helped Democrats paint the GOP nominee as a heartless plutocrat only concerned about protecting the wealthy, a message they’d been pushing for months through a barrage of battleground state ads.

This year, Clinton’s campaign and allies have spent more than $180 million on TV and radio advertising between mid-June and this week, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker. Trump and his supporters spent about $40 million in the same time period.

Many of the Democratic ads focus on Trump, featuring footage of him insulting military leaders, women and immigrants — often with explicit language.

“You can tell them to go f— themselves,” he’s shown saying in ads aired repeatedly by the campaign. The word is bleeped out, but the message is clear.

Clinton’s comments about Trump’s supporters at the fundraiser were a clumsy version of her campaign message, one that she’d expressed in other settings as well.

Speaking to donors in New York City, Clinton said half of Trump’s supporters were in “a basket of deplorables,” a crowd she described as racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic. Clinton later said she regretted applying that description to “half” of Trump’s backers, but stuck by her assertion that “it’s deplorable” that the GOP nominee has built his campaign on “prejudice and paranoia” and given a platform to “hateful views and voices.”

Most American voters don’t see his backers as deplorable. Seven percent say Trump’s supporters are generally better people than the average American, 30 percent say they’re worse, and 61 percent consider them about the same.

But Clinton’s comments resonate with the voters her campaign must turn out to the polls in large numbers on Election Day. Fifty-four percent of Democratic voters think that Trump’s backers are generally worse people than the average American.

About half of black and Hispanic voters, and more than 4 in 10 voters under 30 years old, agree.

“He’s a bully and he’s just made it acceptable,” said Patricia Barraclough, 69, a Clinton supporter in Jonesborough, Tennessee. “Since he started running, civility has just gone down the tubes. The name-calling. The bullying. All of a sudden it’s like it’s OK to act on it.”

___

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

___

AP writer Jill Colvin contributed from Philadelphia.

___

Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com

___

Follow Lisa Lerer and AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/llerer and http://twitter.com/@EL_Swan