Frustration apparent with Affordable Care Act repeal/reform efforts

ST. LEO, FL – A September survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found President Donald Trump’s approval rating nationally still in the low 40-percentage rage, close to where it was in March 2017, when the polling institute last asked American adults to rate the president.

A survey of 1,000 adults conducted September 10 through September 16 asked whether respondents strongly approved, somewhat approved, somewhat disapproved, or strongly disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president. Those strongly approving were 20.2 percent, and somewhat approving were 22.6 percent, creating an overall approval rating of 42.8 percent. That is a just a bit more than a point lower than the rating of 44.1 percent recorded six months previously—statistically not significant—so essentially Trump’s rating did not improve.

In Florida, where 500 respondents were polled separately, Trump’s approval rating slipped from 48.7 percent in March to 43 percent in September.

Biggest Worries and Specific Job Approval Categories
Survey respondents were asked to use the same scale of possible approval ratings on specific areas of the president’s job performance. Trump continued to get combined approval ratings of more than 60 percent nationally and above 69 percent in Florida for supporting troops and the military—the area where he scored highest.

But he slipped in a category with a general label of “keeping his campaign promises” by 11 points nationally, from 52.1 percent in March to 41 percent in September. In Florida, the decline was from 57 percent to 46.8 percent.

Approval of his performance in revamping the Affordable Care Act slipped nationally from 46.7 percent in March to 38.9 percent in September. That follows the president’s active entry into the debate on health care, noted Frank Orlando, director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, and political scientist on the faculty of the university.

In Florida, decline in approval of Trump’s handling of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was not as significant, moving from 51.1 percent in March to 45.8 percent in September.

Trump approval ratings March 2017 National – Strongly & Somewhat
September 2017
National – Strongly & Somewhat
March 2017 Florida –Strongly & Somewhat
September 2017  Florida –Strongly & Somewhat
Overall 44.1% 42.8% 48.7% 43%
Support for the troops and the military 64.1% 61.5% 69.4% 69.2%
Keeping his campaign promises 52.1% 41% 57% 46.8%
Revamping Obamacare/Affordable Care Act (ACA) 46.7% 38.9% 51.1% 45.8%
Jobs and the economy 53.8% 49.3% 59.4% 57.2%
Immigration decisions 44% 43.8% 46.9% 46.2%
Relations with other nations 41.8% 37.8% 45.4% 43.4%
Addressing racial/ethnic divisions in the nation 39.9% 35.6% 44% 40.8%
His Twitter messages    – 26.1%   – 28.8%

To put this in perspective, Orlando noted, health care was selected by just over 19 percent of September poll respondents nationally as the single most important issue facing America—putting it on par with the topic that usually gets the most concern, jobs and the economy. “This shows how much more salient the issue has become during the efforts to reform or repeal Obamacare.”

As for Trump’s handling specifically of jobs and the economy, his approval rating went from 53.8 percent in March nationally to 49.3 in September. In Florida, his approval rating on the topic moved less significantly, from 59.4 percent in March to 57.2 percent in September.

On immigration decisions, Trump continued to hold approval ratings in the mid-40 percent range. Immigration has been near the top of issues considered the most important during 2017 surveys—but health care and jobs generate two to three times as many more top responses.

Orlando also noted that President Trump endured a decrease nationally in his handling of relations with other nations (though the poll was conducted before his controversial address to the United Nations), from 41.8 percent nationally to 37.8 percent nationally.

In the area of addressing racial/ethnic divisions within the United States, Trump appeared to have declined in people’s estimation following the demonstration and violence in Charlottesville, VA, Orlando commented. Trump’s approval rating moved from 39.9 percent nationally in March to 35.6 percent in September. In Florida, the approval rating went from 44 percent in March to 40.8 percent in September. (See a separate press release on public opinions on dealing with Confederate symbols and treatment of Confederate history.)

Another item struck Orlando as worth noting: the survey added a new item in September for approval or disapproval of Trump’s Twitter messages, as it became clear the president decided to continue using the social media platform. But the approval rating was 26.1 percent nationally, and 28.8 percent in Florida, making it his worst category in terms of survey respondent opinion.

“It is interesting that Trump gets his lowest approval on what he appears to enjoy doing the most, sending tweets,” Orlando said. “While it is clear from the engagement he receives that he is successful in reaching his base using the account, his tweets tend to turn off most of the country.”

Other Republican Leaders
Vice President Mike Pence was rated in the survey, as well. Pence slipped from 45.5 percent in March to 44.2 percent in September in the national survey. In Florida, the vice president’s approval rating stayed essentially the same: 50.5 percent in March and 50.7 percent in September. “Mike Pence is still slightly more popular than his boss, and he has managed to maintain a low profile,” Orlando said.

Leader March 2017National – Strongly & SomewhatApprove September 2017  National — Strongly & SomewhatApprove March 2017Florida –Strongly & SomewhatApprove September 2017  Florida –Strongly & SomewhatApprove
Mike Pence 45.5% 44.2% 50.5% 50.7%
Paul Ryan 42.4% 33.3% 47.5% 40.5%
Mitch McConnell   – 28.7%   – 30.7%

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, fared worse nationally. His national approval rating in the poll went from 42.4 percent in March to 33.3 percent in the recent poll. In Florida, his approval declined from 47.7 percent in March to 40.5 percent in September. This makes Ryan the “national leader who has lost the most support,” Orlando said.

“Both Democrats and Trump supporters have been critical of Congress, and Speaker Ryan is feeling those effects,” Orlando explained.

And yet, Ryan still was better-rated than his Senate counterpart.

Poll respondents were asked for the first time in September to give their opinion of the job being done by U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), who has come more into the limelight in recent months during debate about health care. His approval rating was 28.7 percent nationally, and of that, only 8.7 percent strongly approved of his job performance. In Florida, McConnell was given a 30.7 percent approval rating.

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

More About Our Research
METHODOLOGY: The poll sampled opinions of 1,000 approximately proportional to state population contribution nationwide. The survey was conducted September 10-16, 2017. All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The poll has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.

In Florida, 500 distinct respondents approximately proportional to state population contribution were surveyed also from September 10-16, 2017.The results have a margin for error of +/-4.5% at a 95% confidence level.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 90,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.