CAPS - Harris Poll on Current Events and the Supreme Court

October 24, 2017

October 2017 Harvard CAPS - Harris Poll looks at public opinion on the state of the Republican and Democratic Parties, Iran Nuclear Deal, Tax Reform, and Hollywood.

The poll also includes a deep-dive on the Supreme Court, which will be released later this Fall.

The ninth Harvard CAPS – Harris poll, released on Monday, October 23, shows sustained confidence in the American economy despite declining sentiments on the direction of the country, the major parties, and the Trump administration.

Sixty-one percent of respondents, who are registered voters, believe the U.S. economy is strong to very strong, and a plurality of 44% believe the economy is going in the right direction -- versus 41% who say it is off on the wrong path and 15% who are unsure. However, 60% of voters believe the country is on the wrong track, a 6% increase from September.

Presidential approval for October is at 42%, down from 45% last month, with President Trump carrying the support of 87% of his voters and 80% of Republicans, but only 40% of Independents.

The President’s approval appears to have taken a hit from political conflict with establishment GOP leaders and negative views of the Administration’s response to Puerto Rico disaster relief. Today only 38% of voters approve of how the President is administering the government and a slim majority, 51%, say President Trump’s response to the Puerto Rico natural disaster was worse than for the hurricanes that impacted the gulf states.

However, President Trump continues to receive majority approval on his ability to stimulate jobs (52%), the economy (51%), and fighting terrorism (50%). The top two voter issues are stimulating jobs, with 28% support, and passing comprehensive tax reform, with 16% support. 69% of voters say they support a tax reform bill (vs. 31% who are opposed), with tax reform being a major issue among Republican voters.

A slight majority of voters, 51%, also support President Trump’s plan on Iran and believe that President Trump was right to decertify the deal and send it to Congress. 60% of respondents believe that the Obama administration deal was a bad deal, and 81% say that the agreement should have been a treaty approved by the Senate.

66% of respondents believe Iran is violating the terms of agreement, and 70% believe the administration should push to renegotiate the deal now requesting improved verification mechanisms, rather than waiting to act on the issue. Overall, 68% of voters think that Congress should impose sanctions on Iran.

Turning to social issues, 56% of respondents said the recent Las Vegas shooting could not have been prevented with stronger gun laws. Most voters, 57%, also believe that NFL players should stand for anthem, including a strong majority of white Americans at 68%. 69% of respondents support health care competition across party lines but are split 51/49 on Obama era subsidies for insurance companies. Lastly, 70% of voters believe that sexual abuse is widespread in Hollywood and not isolated to the Harvey Weinstein incident.

Go to Harvard Harris Poll for more results from the October poll. Please visit The Hill ( for first look analysis of all the poll results.

This release will be updated throughout the week with more information about the poll.


The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll online within the United States between October 14-18, 2017 among 2,159 registered voters.

The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, and education where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The poll was supervised by Harvard Professor of Government and CAPS Faculty Director Stephen Ansolabehere, Mark Penn, and Dritan Nesho. Stephen Ansolabehere has 25 years’ experience conducting survey research and experimental research in the field of political science. Mark Penn is a former presidential pollster and has 40 years of polling experience. Dritan Nesho is a fellow at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science with over 11 years of polling experience.

Harvard’s Jon Rogowski, Assistant Professor of Government, also contributed to this month’s CAPS-Harris Poll, drafting the Supreme Court section that will be released separately in the fall.

Harris Insights and Analytics conduct the poll based on online methodologies they have been using for more than a decade and the results are donated to the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University.

The results are represented as the results of the questions asked according to The Harris Poll methodology.