Poll: 55% approve of Trump's handling of Hurricane Harvey

Conspicuously good numbers for a president whom Democrats despise and whose job approval has been stuck in the high 30s/low 40s for months. It’s hard to imagine Dems ever coming around on Trump, especially when so many view his victory as illegitimate due to Russiagate, but between the good vibes over his storm handling and his sudden outreach to Schumer and Pelosi, there may be some Strange New Respect in opinions about him soon.

Of course, if things go to hell in Florida when Hurricane Irma hits, all bets are off.

The President gets especially good ratings when it comes to compassion for the victims of the storm, a trait he is not often seen as possessing. About two in three say he cares at least somewhat about the victims. This is more than the percentage who believes he cares about their own needs and problems, but it is smaller than the share who think he cares about wealthy people. And there has been is no improvement whether people believe the President cares about them personally since before the storm…

The public response is not just a partisan one – more than a third of Democrats praise the government’s reaction. These are very different responses from those recorded in CBS News polls conducted in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Three in four then thought the government could have done a better job in the days following the storm, and 80% thought it could have responded faster.

Overall the public splits 55/29 on how Trump has handled the storm with Democrats splitting 36/51 — a net negative result, sure, but more than a third of Dems giving Trump thumbs up on anything is news. The party was primed to condemn his administration’s response to Harvey as disastrously incompetent and proof that he’s unfit for office. Instead, the feds’ reaction to Harvey rates well compared to Team Bush’s reaction to Katrina even among Democrats:

Trump-haters were itching to compare him unfavorably to Dubya, I’m sure, as the Bush administration’s response to Katrina is the modern gold standard for disaster-related political disasters, but he came through just fine. As for Trump’s personal response to the storm, he’s north of 40 percent among Dems and 60 percent among indies when people are asked whether they think he cares about the needs and problem of people affected by Harvey:

It was smart of him to make that extra trip to Texas to talk to victims there. When asked if they think the federal government is doing everything it can to respond to the storm, the public says yes, 51/29. Even Democrats are nearly evenly split at 39/43.

Don’t celebrate yet, though. Irma looks set to be a Biblical-scale catastrophe, especially if it makes landfall near Miami:

Watch the video below for a taste of what St. Maarten experienced this week. If you can believe it, Hurricane Jose is already a Category Three storm out in the Atlantic and making its way westward behind Irma. The Caribbean and Florida could endure two Category Five roundhouses in the span of a week or two.