Public perception of Robert Mueller’s fairness as special counsel have eroded, but not his support, according to the latest survey from Quinnipiac. Almost 70% of all voters want Mueller to finish the job, including a wide majority of Republicans:
President Donald Trump should not fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, American voters say 69 – 13 percent in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Even Republicans say 55 – 22 percent that President Trump should not fire Mueller.
American voters say 52 – 32 percent that Mueller is conducting a “fair” investigation, the lowest level of support for Mueller since the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll first asked this question in November. Republicans say 54 – 30 percent the investigation is not fair. Every other party, gender, education, age and racial group says the investigation is fair.
The decline in fairness ratings is statistically significant, even if Mueller still enjoys a majority on this question. When Quinnipiac first started polling on this question in November, the rating was 60/27. One month ago, it was 58/27. Most of the erosion has taken place recently, perhaps as a result of the parallel probe of the Stormy Daniels affair. Mueller has just referred that back to the Department of Justice, but it may not have been in time to reflect in this survey. Respondents are clearly not impressed with this story:
Even Democrats aren’t all that interested in Stormy weather, as it turns out, although this poll preceded the raid on Michael Cohen’s offices. That might boost interest in the issue as a scandal, but it’s also likely to erode Mueller’s standing even further despite his handoff to the DoJ. It’s going to be tough to separate these investigations in the public mind, and besides, Mueller did have some involvement in this. And note that 59% of respondents think Trump knew of the payments, and yet only 23% think this is a big deal. The Clintonian lesson of It’s just sex! seems to have stuck.
It’s curious, though, to see the disparity of the Republican response to the potential firing of Mueller (22/55) and their assessment of his fairness (30/54). This is the only demographic with a plurality or majority that sees Mueller as unfair; except for 18-34YOs (49/29) and whites with no college degrees (47/38), all other demos have majorities supporting Mueller’s fairness. If so many Republicans see Mueller as unfair, why do they want to see him complete the investigation? It could be the awareness of their isolated position on Mueller’s fairness, or it might simply be a wise observation that firing Mueller would make the situation much worse than it already is.
Interestingly, Trump got his best approval rating in months in this poll, going to a 41/52 from a 2018 low of 35/59 in January. That may not seem like much, especially since strong approval only hits 30%, but strong disapproval is sharply down from earlier this winter. It’s now 42%, which is an objectively high reading, but it’s eleven points lower than the 53% Trump hit in early January. According to the chart Quinnipiac provides, it’s Trump’s best performance in a year, at least in the gap.
Even with the investigations dominating the news, Trump appears to be slowly improving his standing with voters. Will it continue long enough to boost Republican chances in the midterms? If Trump fires Mueller … probably not.