Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on 3 October 2017. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

By Aaron Blake
12 October 2017

(The Washington Post) – President Trump seemed to hint early Thursday that the federal government could pull out of helping Puerto Rico before the recovery is finished. And just hours later, a new poll showed what a bad idea that was.

Quinnipiac University is providing some of the first full-scale reviews of Trump's handling of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, and it's bad news for Trump: Just 36 percent say the federal government has done enough, while 55 percent say it hasn't. Negative views have increased since an AP-NORC poll a week ago showing 49 percent disapproved.

That may seem as if it's just mirroring how people feel more generally about Trump. But if you look closer, the negative views of his Puerto Rico response lie in stark contrast to reviews of him on other hurricanes and the tragedy in Las Vegas. Trump gets positive marks on Hurricane Harvey in Texas (57 percent say his administration has done enough, vs. 27 percent who say it hasn't), Hurricane Irma in Florida (57 to 26) and the massacre in Las Vegas (50 to 34).

In other words, people are willing to see the good in Trump's responses, but they just aren't seeing it on Puerto Rico.

And Thursday's tweets will probably only exacerbate that. Undergirding the sense that the administration hasn't come through in Puerto Rico is the belief that Trump simply doesn't care about the heavily Hispanic U.S. territory. Asked whether Trump “cares about the problems facing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria,” a majority — 52 percent — say he doesn't, while just 43 percent say he does.

Quinnipiac University poll results, showing Americans approve of the federal responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma but not to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Graphic: The Washington Post

Another way of looking at how troubling this should be for the administration is the comparison to Hurricane Katrina — the last major hurricane to see a botched federal response and cost the sitting president dearly. [more]

Trump’s Puerto Rico poll numbers are worse than Bush’s after Katrina

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