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Trump's approval among Republicans up after 'racist comments'

This article is more than 12 months old

By going after a group they oppose, US President is 'doing exactly what Republicans want him to do'

WASHINGTON As the US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to condemn President Donald Trump for "racist comments" against four minority Democratic congresswomen, his approval rating among Republicans actually went up slightly.

A Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Mr Trump told the lawmakers the four women should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came", showed his net approval among members of his Republican Party rose by five percentage points to 72 per cent, compared with a similar national poll that ran last week.

Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents since the Sunday tweetstorm.

Among independents, about three out of 10 said they approved of Trump, down from four out of 10 a week ago.

His net approval - the percentage who approve minus the percentage who disapprove - dropped by 2 points among Democrats in the poll.

Mr Trump's overall approval remained unchanged over the past week. According to the poll, 41 per cent of the US public said they approved of his performance in office, while 55 per cent disapproved.

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution to condemn Mr Trump in a 240-187 vote, which was split mainly along party lines.

All the four representatives - Ms Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ms Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ms Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ms Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - are US citizens.

Three were born in the US.

The public response to Mr Trump's statements appeared to be a little better for him than in 2017, after the President said there were "very fine people" on both sides, when a group of white nationalists clashed with protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulting in one fatality. In that instance, Mr Trump's net approval dropped by about 10 points a week after.

This time, while Democrats and some independents may see clear signs of racial intolerance woven throughout Trump's tweets, Republicans are hearing a different message, said Mr Vincent Hutchings, a political science and African-American studies professor at the University of Michigan.

"To Republicans, Trump is simply saying: 'Hey, if you don't like America, you can leave,'" Mr Hutchings said.

"That is not at all controversial. If you already support Trump, then it is easy to interpret his comments that way."

By criticising liberal members of the House, Mr Trump is "doing exactly what Republicans want him to do," Mr Hutchings said.

"He's taking on groups that they oppose."

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and gathered responses from 1,113 adults, including 478 Democrats and 406 Republicans in the US. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of three percentage points for the entire group and five points for Democrats or Republicans.