Trump speaks, Republicans follow and Democrats flee


President Donald Trump’s trip to the NATO summit featured him calling out US allies for not spending enough on defense and accusing Germany of being “a captive of Russia.” It ended with a commitment to the organization, but not before a lot of criticism. Trump has criticized the organization before, but now that he has a platform as President, people are listening.

Democrats seem to grow fonder of the things Trump dislikes. And Republicans follow his lead.

Republican approval of NATO had been improving — it was up from 39% in 2013 to 52% in 2016 before Trump took office. But by 2017, the last year for which data is available and after Trump’s NATO criticism started, favorability of NATO was down to 47%. Stay tuned to see if that trend continues after his chaotic appearance this week.

Even more striking is that as Republicans have turned against NATO, Democrats have warmed to it. Their approval was at 58% in 2016 and had jumped 20 percentage points in 2017.

NATO isn’t the only example of the Trump years changing people’s minds about things.
Issues that didn’t used to be partisan have become so as of 2016-17.

Take NAFTA, another favorite punching back of the President’s as he tries to renegotiate the trade deal that binds the US, Canada and Mexico. Views of NAFTA have also shifted since Trump became President.

In 1997, Gallup showed 37% of Americans who thought that the North American Free Trade Agreement is good for the US. Of those, 33% of Democrats and 42% of Republicans agreed. Now, two-thirds of Democrats say NAFTA is good, compared to only 22% of Republicans.

The FBI, which Trump has criticized as part of his effort to undermine the Russia investigation, didn’t used to be an organization that caused a partisan divide. It certainly does now, although its overall approval remains over 50%.

According to Gallup, 58% of Americans said that the FBI is doing an excellent or good job. It’s actually the same level of support in both 2014 and 2018. But a closer investigation shows a great divergence and a shift.

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