Most Americans think Trump is a successful businessman. Until they learn about his losses.

  • In Business
  • 2019-05-15 14:30:02Z

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump's image as a powerful real estate tycoon helped carry him to the White House in 2016 and as he begins to campaign for re-election, a majority of Americans still believe he is a successful businessman, according to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.

Until they learn about his reported $1.17 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994, that is.

The poll found that when asked, "Generally speaking, do you think President Donald Trump has been successful or unsuccessful in business?" 54% of registered voters said he had been at least somewhat successful. Another 36% said he had been unsuccessful and 10% weren't sure.

But the numbers shifted when the respondents were told about a May 7 article in which The New York Times detailed how Trump claimed more than $1 billion in losses during the years he rose to national fame as Manhattan mogul whose name became synonymous with affluence and excess. In light of that information, voters were split on the question of whether he had been successful in business, with 43% saying he had and 42% sayign he had not.

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When asked if they thought Trump's business experience had been an asset during his time in office, 48% said it had helped while 33% said it hurt and 11% said it didn't make a difference.

On the other hand, a majority of thought his lack of political experience has been a liability. A 59% majority said his lack of experience hurt in terms of how he "had handled his responsibilities as president," while only 21% said it helped and 11% didn't think it mattered.

The Times report was based on tax information obtained from 10 years of an annual form Trump filed with the IRS. But the paper did not get a look at Trump's full tax returns from those years.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump declined to make his tax returns public, as most presidential nominees have done in recent decades. He explained that he could not share them because he was under audit but vowed to do so as soon as the audit was complete.

Trump's critics did not accept that explanation, pointing out that the IRS has no policy that a person can't share their tax returns when they are being audited. Since winning a majority in the 2018 midterm elections, House Democrats have made obtaining copies of Trump's returns a priority and last week House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal issued a subpoena for six years of the president's federal tax filings.

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Forty-nine percent of registered voters said they support Democrats' effort to obtain the returns and 36% said they are against it.

Overall, the poll found Trump's job approval rating at 41%, with 56% saying they disapprove of the job he's done in office.

If the 2020 election were held today, 27% of registered voters said they would "definitely" vote to re-elect Trump and 10% said they would "probably" vote for him. But 48% said they would "definitely" vote for someone else and other 7% said they probably would.

As with other recent surveys, the Politico/Morning Consult poll found a strikingly high level of voter enthusiasm heading into the election. Seventy percent said they were "absolutely certain to vote" in their primary or caucus, while another 14% said they were "very likely" and 10% said they were "about 50-50."

The poll was conducted from May 10-12 from 1,995 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.

The 2020 candidates: Who is running for president? An interactive guide

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Most Americans think Trump is a successful businessman. Until they learn about his losses.


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