Poll: Majority disapprove of Trump’s handling of North Korea

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A majority of voters disapprove of President Trump’s handling of escalating tensions with North Korea and believe his tough rhetoric won’t do anything to resolve the situation, a new poll finds.

According to the latest Harvard–Harris Poll survey, provided exclusively to The Hill, 53 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of tensions with North Korea. Sentiments here split largely along party lines, but 57 percent of independents disapprove of how Trump is dealing with the North Korea issue.

Furthermore, 56 percent said Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric is over the top and unhelpful.

{mosads}“The public is united that they do not want North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons and believe they would use them, but at the same time is fearful of military strikes against the regime,” said Harvard–Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn.

“Ideally they want North Korea contained with sanctions and by getting the help of China. They are on the fence about the president’s handling of the situation but it’s ultimately what kind of results he gets that will determine his public support on the issue.”

The Trump administration announced new sanctions this week on Chinese businesses accused of helping North Korea build out its nuclear missile program

Trump has long complained that China is not doing enough to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and he has sought to publicly pressure Beijing on the matter. Earlier this month, the administration notched a significant victory when China agreed to new United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

But Trump has drawn criticism for his blunt threats against North Korea.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., earlier this month. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Those remarks came amid reports that North Korea had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead that could be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Voters are eager to avoid conflict with North Korea.

Sixty-two percent said the U.S. should continue its policy of strategic patience, compared to 38 percent that said the U.S. should take a more active role. Fifty-four percent approve of the way former President Barack Obama handled North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Ninety percent said the U.S. needs to stop North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons and 86 percent believe North Korea leader Kim Jong Un plans to use his weapons against the U.S. or sell them to another dangerous government.

A strong majority of voters support stepping up international sanctions that go beyond what was passed by the United Nations. There is also broad support for applying economic and trade pressure on China toward that effort, but most oppose using military force such as air strikes or blockades.

The Harvard–Harris Poll online survey of 2,263 registered voters was conducted from Aug. 17 to 22. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 3 percent other.

Harvard–Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard–Harris Poll throughout 2017. 

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard–Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

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