Approval for Attorney General Sessions has tanked amid Trump’s attacks, poll suggests
Once so popular that he ran unopposed for re-election to the Senate in both the Republican primary and in the general election, Attorney General Jeff Sessions now finds himself under fire from all sides.
Democrats across the country never much cared for him, and now Republicans hold him in low standing, as well.
A Morning Consult/Politico poll published Wednesday suggests that only 18 percent of registered voters have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable view of Sessions, while 45 percent view him somewhat or very unfavorably.
The attorney general’s numbers are horrid among Democrats (11 percent favorable) and independents (15 percent). But Republican voters do not view him that favorably, either. Among Republicans, 31 percent have a positive opinion of Sessions, while a plurality — 33 percent — view him negatively.
The results show a steep erosion in support from a Morning Consult poll in July last year. Then, 38 percent said they strongly or somewhat approved of the job Sessions was doing as attorney general, compared to 32 percent who disapproved. Among Republicans, Sessions enjoyed a 58 percent approval rating.
Alabama political experts said they believe the survey results reflect the steady stream of criticism that President Donald Trump has hurled at Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The attorney general handed off responsibility for the probe to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after concluding that his role on the president’s campaign posed a conflict of interest.
William Stewart, a political scientist at the University of Alabama, said he is not surprised by the poll results.
“I can imagine, because the president hasn’t spoken very favorably about his attorney general,” he said.
The poll came out on the same day that Trump again called him out on Twitter, this time voicing his opinion that Sessions should end the “Witch Hunt” probe led by Mueller.
Stewart said Sessions finds himself in a strange position, politically.
“It’s unusual,” he said. “Generally, the more unpopular someone is with the opposition party, the more popular they are with the party in power.”
Steven Taylor, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University, said he suspects Trump’s criticism of Sessions has sunk in with Republican voters.
“Democrats don’t like Sessions for a bunch of reasons,” he said.
The deteriorating relationship between Trump and Sessions has been one of the strangest stories of his presidency. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump. In addition to the credibility Trump gained at a time when he was trying to lock down the Republican nomination, Sessions also was the source of key staffers who helped guide the campaign.
Aide Stephen Miller wrote a number of Trump’s campaign speeches, including his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, and still works at the White House as a domestic policy adviser.
But even though Sessions has been successful in implementing Trump’s policies on issues ranging from illegal immigration to law and order, Trump clearly has had a tough time overcoming his frustration over the appointment of independent counsel Robert Mueller.
From time to time, Trump publicly vents that frustration at Sessions, who largely ignores it.
Sometimes, Stewart said, Sessions must regret his decision to take the job.
The poll did not break down the results by state, so it is impossible to know how the people who elected Sessions five times to statewide office feel about him now.
“I would think Sessions would fare better here in Alabama, even though he has not enjoyed the constant favor of his president,” Stewart said.