Despite histrionics from the mainstream media and Democratic lawmakers over President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last week, latest polling shows the public are greeting the “scandal” with a resounding “meh.”
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published Sunday shows Trump’s decision to fire Comey — after he received a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe — is opposed by just 38 percent of Americans.
While only 29 percent of those surveyed approved of the firing, 33 percent said they didn’t know or weren’t sure. This means, despite wall-to-wall negative news coverage of the dismissal, including mainstream commentators delving into fringe conspiracy theories about Russia/Trump ties, 62 percent of Americans are either fine or indifferent to Comey’s ouster.
Mainstream news outlets have been filled with various Democrats and commentators declaring Comey’s firing a “Nixonian” move reminiscent of the Watergate scandal. On Thursday, “The View” host Whoopi Goldberg said the firing “feels like a coup,” a sentiment also shared by the Atlantic’s David Frum on Twitter.
Democratic politicians have not been any less theatrical, with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, tweeting last week: “We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis.”
We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 9, 2017
Multiple Democrats, including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, have demanded a special prosecutor be appointed to the FBI investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The WSJ/NBC poll, conducted between May 11-13, also found that views of the firing were largely split by party affiliation, with Republicans generally backing the firing, and Democrats opposing it.
The poll comes after data from a social media research company indicated that the Comey firing did not create the social media firestorm Trump’s opponents had hoped.
Data from SocialFlow found that Facebook postings about the controversy reached an average of 37,000 users, well below that of other moments of Trump’s presidency — including Rachel Maddow’s widely-mocked release of Trump’s tax returns.
The public’s apparent indifference to the so-called “coup” is reflected in Trump’s approval rating, which appears not to have been affected by the controversy. The WSJ/NBC poll found that while nine out of 10 respondents had seen coverage of the firing, opinions of Trump had remained stable.
The poll found that Trump’s approval rating dropped marginally from 40 percent in April to 39 percent in May, with his disapproval rating remaining at 59 percent in both May and April. This is supported by Gallup’s Daily Tracking Poll, which has Trump’s job approval rating at 39 percent, down a point from 40 percent on Tuesday, the day Comey was fired.
More damaging to Trump’s approval, it seems, is the unpopular Republican healthcare bill. In the WSJ/NBC poll, 48 percent of respondents disapproved of the bill pushed through the House earlier this month by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while just 23 percent thought it a good idea.
Perhaps more worrying for the Trump administration, the poll found that only 52 percent of Republicans backed the bill, and only 18 percent of independents supported it.