Donald Trump passed the first two natural-disaster tests of his young presidency, but Americans are giving him failing grades for his response in Puerto Rico.
Polls show Trump is earning high marks for his response to Hurricane Harvey, which inundated Texas with unprecedented rainfall. Same for Hurricane Irma, which slammed into the Florida Keys then rode up the state’s west coast.
Story Continued Below
But those same polls show voters have a negative view of the recovery effort following Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that ravaged the island territory last month. In a series of new surveys, majorities think the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to help Puerto Rico — and one new poll even suggests that a majority of voters don’t think Trump cares about Puerto Rico’s problems.
Trump has tried to talk up the government’s recovery efforts. “We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico,” he tweeted earlier this month before visiting the island. “Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates … people are now starting to recognize the amazing work that has been done by FEMA and our great Military.”
Only people aren’t actually recognizing it, at least in national polls — which, incidentally, don’t include Puerto Ricans. According to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, only 32 percent of registered voters think the federal government has done enough in response to Hurricane Maria. A 51 percent majority thinks the government hasn’t done enough.
Compare that with Harvey and Irma: 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively, think the government has done enough to help victims of the two storms that hit the mainland, while only about a third think the government hasn’t done enough.
The results break largely along partisan lines. Nearly three-quarters of Democratic voters, 74 percent, say the government hasn’t done enough in Puerto Rico, but only 27 percent of Republicans agree. Independents say the government hasn’t done enough in Puerto Rico, 49 percent to 29 percent.
The numbers were similar in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday: 40 percent say the government is doing enough to restore electricity and access to food and water in Puerto Rico, while 52 percent say the government isn’t doing enough.
Both the POLITICO/Morning Consult and Kaiser Family Foundation polls asked about the federal government’s response, without mentioning Trump personally. But a Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday did — and found an even greater disparity between voters’ views of Trump’s handling of Maria versus Harvey and Irma.
A majority of voters, 55 percent, say Trump and his administration haven’t done enough to help Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Only 36 percent say the Trump administration has done enough.
But 57 percent majorities said Trump and his administration have done enough to help after both Harvey and Irma, the poll shows.
Most strikingly, a majority of voters, 52 percent, say they don’t think Trump cares about the problems facing Puerto Rico after Maria, while just 43 percent say he does care.
The splits are familiar: 85 percent of Democratic voters say Trump doesn’t care, but 83 percent of Republicans think he does care. A slight majority of white voters, 51 percent, say Trump cares about Puerto Rico, but only 14 percent of black voters and 23 percent of Hispanics agree.
The Trump administration is sensitive to this narrative — but also feeling burned that the president’s role isn’t viewed more positively. And the president is blaming the news media.
On Sunday night, Trump’s account tweeted a nearly nine-minute video — featuring footage of aid workers, the military and Trump’s visit to San Juan last week — accompanied by a message: “Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation. So much work!”
The video opens with text across the screen that reads, in all caps, “WHAT THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA WILL NOT SHOW YOU IN PUERTO RICO …”