skip to main content
Trump Stronger on Economy Than Foreign Affairs, Immigration

Trump Stronger on Economy Than Foreign Affairs, Immigration

Story Highlights

  • Nearly four in 10 say Trump would do a good job handling the economy
  • Confidence in Trump dwindles to 17% on foreign affairs
  • More doubt him on relations with Mexico than on immigration

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Americans perceive Donald Trump as being able to do a reasonable job of handling the economy as president: 36% say he would do a good job if elected, and 27% say he would do a fair job. However, it is downhill from there for the newly minted Republican presidential candidate. Fewer Americans say Trump would perform well on two other core leadership tasks, with 29% saying he would do a good job on immigration and 17% on foreign affairs.

Americans' Perceptions of Donald Trump's Handling of Issues, July 2015

An official candidate for only a month, Trump has already waded chin deep into some specific foreign policy areas. He has taken an aggressive stance toward Mexico on immigration, China on trade and President Barack Obama for being too soft on Russia. While Trump's "good job" ratings on relations with each of these nations are about the same, between 17% and 19%, the percentage saying he would do a "bad job" varies from 47% for relations with China -- and 51% for relations with Russia -- to 57% for relations with Mexico.

Trump's ratings on all six issues tested in the poll are much better among rank-and-file Republicans than among independents or Democrats, as would be expected given that Trump is running as a Republican for the GOP nomination. However, the only issue that a majority of Republicans think Trump would do a good job of handling is the economy.

Perceptions of Donald Trump's Handling of Issues, by Party ID, July 2015

The new Gallup poll, conducted July 8-12, reveals some minor differences in Trump's specific foreign policy ratings when those saying he would do a fair job are factored in. Most notably, while 39% anticipate he would do a good or fair job of handling relations with Mexico, that belief rises to 46% saying the same about China.

Trump Trails Clinton on Core Issue Ratings

The economy, immigration and foreign policy have been challenges for every recent president. It is as much a function of the times as the person occupying the Oval Office. Still, Trump elicits less confidence on each of these issues than the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton -- the only other presidential candidate Gallup has evaluated with this question to date. In May, 42% of Americans said Clinton would do a good job on the economy, slightly exceeding Trump's 36%. Clinton had a similar edge over Trump on handling immigration, 35% to 29%, respectively. The former secretary of state generated significantly more confidence on foreign affairs, with 42% saying she would do a good job on that dimension, compared with Trump's 17%.

In addition to Clinton's stronger foreign policy resume helping to explain these gaps, she has a significantly higher favorable rating from Americans: 50% viewed Clinton favorably in May, compared with 31% viewing Trump favorably in the new poll.

Bottom Line

Thirty-one percent of Americans view Trump favorably, including just shy of half of Republicans (49%), and only a quarter perceive him as a serious candidate for president. That's a shaky base from which to campaign, much less defend controversial positions. However, he appears to have some credibility with Americans when talking about the economy, perhaps reflecting his background as a long-time businessman who has built a fortune in real estate and had a successful reality TV show featuring his boardroom skills. Trump's comments on immigration were highly controversial, perhaps contributing to fewer than three in 10 Americans saying he would do a good job on that issue. But it appears he has even less credibility when it comes to handling relations with Mexico and with other countries important to U.S. foreign policy.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-12, 2015, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

For results based on the sample of 507 national adults in Form A, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030