OXON HILL, M.D. — On Saturday, John McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin & Associates polling, presented the results from the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll. CPAC attendees broadly supported President Donald Trump, but they did have some criticism for the president.
“We haven’t seen this level of support since the days of Ronald Reagan,” McLaughlin told the crowd at the Gaylord Hotel. A whopping 93 percent of CPAC attendees said they approved of the job Trump has been doing, while 61 percent said they “strongly approved.” Only 6 percent said they disapproved.
Another 75 percent of CPAC attendees said the United States is moving in the “right direction,” while only 17 percent said it is going off on the “wrong track” under Trump.
Even so, the numbers got even rosier for Trump. Nearly four-fifths of CPAC attendees (79 percent) said Republicans in Congress need to do more to support President Trump’s policies. Another 13 percent said GOP Congress members are doing enough, and only 4 percent said they needed to oppose Trump more than they already do.
The president’s policies also received wide support from CPAC. When asked about his immigration plan — to end the visa lottery, to end the “catch and release” policy, to build the wall, and to offer a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants — 75 percent of attendees favored it. Of that, 37 percent of CPAC “strongly favored” it. Only 21 percent opposed the broad immigration compromise plan.
A strong majority of CPAC attendees (60 percent) also said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has not been fair to Trump in investigating the case of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Only 21 percent said Mueller has been fair.
CPAC attendees did have one piece of advice for Trump, however. More conservatives at the conference said the president should tweet less. Even so, the conference was mostly divided on the issue of the president’s use of Twitter.
A full 40 percent said Trump should tweet less, while 13 percent said he tweets about the right amount. Another 35 percent of CPAC attendees said they wanted Trump to tweet more. The president often uses Twitter to get his message directly to the American people, but many times his tweets have gone into ugly personal invective, causing controversy.
In many ways, the CPAC audience is representative of Donald Trump’s base — or at least, the youngest and most connected part of his base. They overwhelmingly supported the president, backed his policies, and even said an investigator considered to be Trump’s enemy (Mueller) was unfair. Even so, they would not fully support his Twitter strategy.
The president tweeted many times in advance of his CPAC speech on Friday. On Friday morning, he tweeted, “CPAC today!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 23, 2018
Earlier this month, he went into more depth about what CPAC means to him. “The journey to [Make America Great Again] began CPAC 2011 and the opportunity to reconnect with friends and supporters is something I look forward to every year. See you at CPAC 2018!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2018
Will these results make the president think twice about his Twitter strategy? Not likely, but they are a notable exception to the emphatic support the president found at CPAC.