By David Meyer
December 8, 2017

President Donald Trump’s approval rating continues to fall, and most Americans believe senior members of his administration definitely or probably had improper contacts with the Kremlin during last year’s election.

That’s according to a new Pew Research Center study, which also found that most Americans think special prosecutor Robert Mueller will fairly investigate the Russian scandal.

Just 32% of those surveyed between November 29 and December 4 approved of the way Trump is managing his presidency. The figure in October was 34%, and in February it was 39%—already a low level for a president who has just taken office.

That low starting point may explain why, in a separate piece of analysis from the Eurasia Group, Trump’s drop in popularity since taking office was relatively minor compared with other figures whose popularity has plunged. Canada’s Justin Trudeau, for example, lost 13 percentage points in approval, the U.K.’s Theresa May lost 17, and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro lost a whopping 32 points.

Pew’s survey took account of the views of people who are not registered to vote as well as those who are. Among registered voters only, Trump’s approval rating in the current poll was 34%.

According to the survey, 30% of Americans definitely believe improper contacts with Russia took place, and 29% think they probably took place. Meanwhile, 18% think they probably did not, and 12% think they definitely did not.

Opinions on the Russia scandal and the Mueller investigation split along party lines.

A full two-thirds of those who identify as Republicans or lean towards that party were on the side of saying the improper contacts probably or definitely did not take place, while 82% of Democrats or Democrat-leaning respondents were on the other side of the scale.

Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents were also more likely (68%) to say Mueller would investigate fairly, as opposed to 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. According to Pew, although Michael Flynn’s guilty plea took place halfway through polling, the numbers didn’t significantly vary before and after he admitted lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians.

Only 17% of Republicans saw Mueller’s probe as “very important” to the U.S.—a percentage that shot up to 71% among Democrats. However, Americans were far more in agreement about the tax reform initiative: 71% of Republicans and 70% of Democrats say “proposed changes to the federal tax system” are a very important issue for the country.

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