Poll: Only a Third Approves of Trump’s Puerto Rico Response

Nearly half the country disapproves of president’s handling of hurricane disaster on the island

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the Muniz Air National Guard Base in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. A new poll shows that nearly half of Americans surveyed disapprove of the president’s response to Hurricane Maria. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has not scored political points for his response to the disaster wrought on the U.S. island of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria a new poll shows.

Nearly half of all respondents to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll disapproved of the job the president is doing there.

Less than a third — just 32 percent — approved of Trump’s leadership in the federal relief effort.

“It took him how long to get to Puerto Rico?” Bree Harris, a 25-year-old chef and Democrat from Los Angeles, told the AP. She believes the president “didn’t even know that Puerto Rico was an island that was part of America. It’s embarrassing.”

Respondents were interviewed by phone or online after being selected for and completing the poll.

It seemed to take Trump roughly a week to turn his full attention to the crisis unfolding in Puerto Rico after Maria rocked the island on Sept. 20. He drew heat from critics for picking a fight with the NFL and some of its players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice instead of focusing his messaging on shoring up public sympathy and awareness for the situation in Puerto Rico.

The president has also jousted with Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, for more than a week.

Cruz appeared on CNN last week urging the federal government to increase their resource allotment and help out with the relief effort's broken logistics system.

Trump claimed Cruz was directed by Democratic higher-ups to attack his administration’s relief operations for political gain and tweeted that leaders on the island “wanted everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”

Democrats and Republicans predictably split on how Trump handled disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. mainland, where hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated Texas and Florida, respectively.

Sixty-two percent of Republicans polled approved of the job Trump has done helping an already debt-saddled Puerto Rico recover from hurricanes that decimated its infrastructure and communications systems.

But just 11 percent of Democrats approved of the president’s job on the island.

Thirty percent of Democratic respondents approved of the job Trump is doing in Texas and Florida, whereas more than 3 in 4 of their Republican counterparts approved of Trump’s handling of efforts there.

The AP and NORC Center conducted the poll of 1,050 U.S. adults from Sept. 28 through Monday using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population, according to the AP. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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