Washington: US President Donald Trump's standing with the American people has deteriorated since the northern spring, buffeted by perceptions of a decline in US leadership abroad, a stalled presidential agenda at home and an unpopular Republican healthcare bill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Approaching six months in office, Trump's overall approval rating has dropped to 36 per cent from 42 per cent in April.
His disapproval rating has risen five points to 58 per cent. Overall, 48 per cent say they "disapprove strongly" of Trump's performance in office, a level never reached by former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and reached only in the second term of George W Bush in Post-ABC polling.
Almost half of all Americans (48 per cent) see the country's leadership in the world as weaker since Trump was inaugurated, compared with 27 per cent who say it is stronger.
As the polls were published, Trump made a fresh attack on the media on Sunday, repeating his belief that major news organisations use "phony unnamed sources", are biased and "fraudulent". The tweet came just hours after it was revealed his campaign paid $US50,000 to the law firm representing Donald Trump Jnr in relation to his meeting with a Russian lawyer, two weeks before the meeting came to light.
"With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is distorting democracy in our country," Trump told his almost 40 million Twitter followers.
Trump tweeted about the ABC poll, saying that "even though almost 40 per cent is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time".
On Sunday, while appearing on American breakfast TV shows, one of President's personal lawyers hit back at allegations Trump jnr was guilty of wrongdoing by meeting Russian lobbyists, claiming the Secret Service would not have allowed any such meeting if it broke any rules.
Jay Sekulow, who ran a White House media blitz on American breakfast TV shows on Sunday, insisted there was nothing suspicious about Donald Trump jnr's meeting with the Russian lawyer and a lobbyist at Trump Tower.
"Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The President had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me," he told ABC News.
Despite the fact that Trump campaigned as someone skilled at making deals that would be good for the country, majorities in the poll also say they do not trust him in negotiations with foreign leaders and in particular Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Just over one-third of all Americans say they trust the President either "a great deal" or "a good amount" in any such foreign negotiations. Asked specifically about Trump-Putin negotiations, almost two in three say they do not trust the President much, including 48 per cent who say they do not trust the President "at all".
Perceptions about the role of Russia in the 2016 election and possible collusion or cooperation with Trump campaign associates continue to be a drag on the President, though like many other questions, results show a clear partisan divide.
The Post-ABC poll finds 60 per cent of Americans think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, up slightly from 56 per cent in April. Some 44 per cent suspect Russian interference and think Trump benefited from their efforts. Roughly four in ten believe members of Trump's campaign intentionally aided Russian efforts to influence the election, though suspicions have changed little since the spring.
Americans' views on Russia's role in the election continue to divide along partisan lines. Among Democrats, eight in ten believe Russia attempted to influence the election and more than six in ten think members of Trump's team attempted to aid their efforts. But among Republicans, one-third think Russia tried to influence the election outcome, and fewer than one in ten think Trump's associates sought to help them.
Last week, information was revealed by the New York Times that Donald Trump Jr. and two other senior campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer and others after being offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton and told that the information was part of a Russian government effort to help Trump.
Asked about this revelation, more than six in ten Americans say the meeting was inappropriate, with just about a quarter saying it was appropriate. But almost half of all Republicans call the meeting appropriate.
Suspicions of Trump have eased at least slightly on one front. While 52 per cent think he is trying to interfere with investigations into Russia's possible election interference, that is down slightly from 56 per cent in June.
The President's strongest assets continue to be the healthy economy and a view among many Americans that the Democrats do not have a coherent message or program in opposition, other than opposition to the President.
Trump's approval rating on the economy, in contrast to his overall rating, is about one-to-one, with 43 per cent giving him positive marks and 41 per cent giving him negative ratings. Meanwhile, fewer than 4 in 10 say the Democratic Party currently stands for something, while a slight majority say it "just stands against Trump".
Beyond those areas, Trump continues to be deeply unpopular. His standing is a mirror opposite of Obama and Bush at this point in their first terms. Each held a 59 per cent job approval rating in Post-ABC polling. Trump's standing is closer to that of Bill Clinton's, who hit a record low 43 per cent approval in late June 1993, before rebounding later that year.
Half of Americans say Trump is doing a worse job than most past presidents, while just under one-quarter say he is doing better, and a similar share say he is faring about the same as previous presidents. A 55 per cent majority say Trump is not making significant progress toward his goals.
The survey points to many causes for Trump's troubles. As Republican senators attempt to pass major healthcare legislation, the poll finds about twice as many Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, to GOP plans for replacing it - 50 per cent to 24 per cent. About a quarter volunteer either "neither," say they want something else or offer no opinion.
Independents are an important factor in the Republican law's struggles. They favour Obamacare over the GOP replacement by a 29-point margin. Democrats are more strongly behind the current law, with 77 per cent preferring Obamacare to the proposed alternative. Meanwhile, only 59 per cent of Republicans back their party's proposal, though only 11 per cent say they prefer Obamacare. The remaining 30 per cent of Republicans say they prefer neither, something else or give no opinion.
On one key issue in the debate over the Republican plan, the public by 63 to 27 per cent says it is more important for the government to provide health coverage to low-income people rather than cutting taxes. Republican proposals include major reductions in spending increases for Medicaid, while eliminating many taxes and fees imposed by the 2010 Affordable Care Act to expand the program.
Whatever Trump's struggles, the poll shows clear risks of Democrats' opposition to Trump. Some 37 per cent say the party currently stands for something, while 52 per cent say it mainly stands against Trump. Even among Democrats, over one-quarter say their party primarily stands in opposition to Trump rather than for their own agenda.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted July 10-13 among a random national sample of 1001 adults reached on mobile and landline phones. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Washington Post, wires