WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans say they think President Donald Trump has little to no respect for the country's democratic traditions, according to a new poll that underscores the difficulty Trump faces in uniting a country deeply divided about his leadership.
The new survey, conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found more than 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, and nearly half strongly disapprove. The poll was conducted before a shooting spree at a Washington-era baseball field on Wednesday left a congressman wounded and renewed calls for more civil political discourse.
"We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country," Trump said Wednesday, responding to the shooting.
The survey suggests Trump faces considerable challenges as he seeks to position himself as a unifying figure.
Two-thirds of Americans, or 65 percent, think Trump doesn't have much respect for the country's democratic institutions and traditions or has none at all. Just a third of Americans, or 34 percent, thinks he has a great deal or even a fair amount of respect for them.
Overall, 64 percent disapprove and just 35 percent approve of his job performance.
Trump was unpopular among Americans overall even as he was elected president, but the poll shows that even many Republicans have doubts. Nearly a third of Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican party think Trump has little to no respect for the country's democratic institutions, and a quarter disapprove of the job he's doing as president.
Nine in 10 Democrats and 6 in 10 independents say the same.
Ron Denmon, a 55-year-old independent voter from Houston, agreed that Trump has little regard for the country's democratic institutions and traditions, including the White House taking steps to avoid politicizing the Justice Department and the FBI. Denmon referenced recent news reports that Trump was considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel named by the Justice Department to investigate Russia's role in the 2016 election. Mueller was appointed after Trump dismissed Comey, who had been leading the inquiry. Comey has said Trump was trying to influence his handling of the Russia investigation.
"The fact that he's even considering getting rid of Mueller is even more evidence that he thinks it's all about him and how he wants to control things," said Denmon, a 22-year Air Force veteran who said his vote for Trump last November was more against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, than for Trump.
Of Trump, Denmon said: "He doesn't care about the process. He only cares about him."
A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Tuesday that Trump "has no intention" of firing Mueller, but maintained he "has the right to."
Linda Draper, an independent from Mulberry, Florida, who voted for Trump, said the president is the one who isn't being respected, and criticized those she says have tried to block him at every turn.
"If they would leave him alone and let him do what the American taxpayers voted him in there to do, this country would be a whole lot better off," said Draper, 64. "What he's trying to do is good."
Among whites without a college education, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Trump last year, 50 percent say they approve of Trump, down slightly from 58 percent in March.
Health care remains Trump's worst issue in the poll, with 66 percent disapproving of his handling of the issue. Even 33 percent of Republicans disapprove of his handling of the issue.
Nearly as many — 64 percent — disapprove of Trump's handling of climate change. The poll was conducted after Trump's announcement that the country would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Sixty-three percent disapprove of Trump's handling of foreign policy, 60 percent disapprove of his handling of immigration, and 55 percent disapprove of how he's handling the economy.
Americans are more divided over Trump's handling of the threat of terrorism, with 47 percent saying they approve and 52 percent that they disapprove.
Among Republicans, 28 percent disapprove of Trump's handling of foreign policy and climate change and 22 percent disapprove of his handling of immigration, but less than 2 in 10 disapprove of how he's handling the economy or terrorism.
Sixty-five percent of Americans say they think the country is on the wrong track, the poll shows, and just 34 percent think it's headed in the right direction.
Seventy-five percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing, the poll shows.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,068 adults was conducted June 8-11 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.