Poll: Feds Feel Disrespected by Trump, Give Him Low Approval Marks

Patrick Semansky / AP

Federal employees are not satisfied with their top boss, a new survey found, with just 37 percent expressing approval for President Trump.

Nearly six in 10 federal employees said they disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, according to a new poll from Government Executive Media Group’s research arm, Government Business Council, with 18 percent of Republican feds voicing disapproval. While federal workers by a similar margin said Trump has not made his management priorities clear, they overwhelmingly believed their agencies have maintained productivity during the president’s first 100 days. Nearly 70 percent of respondents agreed their agencies have stayed productive throughout the presidential transition.

Feds believe their low regard for Trump’s performance is mutual; just 30 percent of federal employees said they think Trump respects the federal workforce, while 56 percent said they do not. Respondents were evenly split on whether Trump’s appointees can carry out their agency missions, with 16 percent saying they had no new political leadership. Only about one in four respondents said Trump has boosted the federal government’s reputation, while 61 percent said he has made it worse.

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Respondents lambasted Trump’s efforts to reshape the federal workforce: just 3 percent said his hiring freeze aided their agencies and just 6 percent said his administration’s guidance calling agencies to cut their workforces would be helpful. A majority said the freeze and the looming cuts would be an impediment, though 36 percent said the moratorium had no effect on their agencies.

In a January GBC poll, just before Trump was sworn in and instituted the freeze, 67 percent of feds said they opposed a hiring pause. The same survey found 62 percent of feds voted for Hillary Clinton, while 28 percent voted for Trump. In August, GBC found 43 percent of feds approved of the way President Obama handled his job, and 49 percent disapproved.

Federal employees actually generally approve of Trump’s efforts to reshape the executive branch, with 41 percent giving it positive marks and 30 percent opposing it. Just 12 percent of Democrats said they support the restructuring effort, however.

Some of Trump's other executive orders are less popular with feds; 37 percent said they support his policy that agencies must streamline or eliminate two regulations for every new one proposed. That roughly corresponds to the 39 percent of feds who said their agency maintains excessive regulations. Just 32 percent of respondents supported Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, though 65 percent of Republicans were in favor of the policy.

GBC fielded the study to an audience of Government Executive Media Group readers from April 20, 2017, to April 25, 2017. The sample is made up of 1,295 respondents, 27 percent of whom identified as Democrats, 23 percent as Republicans and 35 percent as independents. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. 

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