NBC/WSJ poll: Trump approval 'remarkably stable' after a stormy week of bad news

WASHINGTON — After a week that saw President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman convicted on eight counts of fraud and his former lawyer plead guilty to felony campaign finance charges, the president's job approval rating remains virtually unchanged, new polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows.

But the stability in Trump's approval rating also comes as more than half of voters say he has not been honest and truthful regarding the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. And fewer than three-in-ten voters are convinced that Trump himself is not implicated in the wrongdoing of the six of his associates who have now either been convicted of crimes or have pleaded guilty.

Between Aug. 18 and Aug. 22 — the day after the news involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen — the president's approval rating stood at 46 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove.

In a separate NBC/WSJ survey, conducted Aug. 22 through Aug. 25, Trump's approval rating was 44 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. That's within the poll's margin of error.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his team at Hart Research Associates, called Trump's approval rating "remarkably stable" despite the Manafort and Cohen developments, both of which became public on the same afternoon last Tuesday.

Hart added that, for Democrats hoping to craft a midterm election strategy, the week's news thus far "represents a fool's-gold opportunity rather than a silver-bullet solution."

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Donald Trump holds rally in Tampa, Florida
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U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, addresses the crowd during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters are removed from the crowd during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TAMPA, FL - JULY 31: CNN reporter Jim Acosta (R) speaks to people before the arrival of President Donald Trump for his Make America Great Again Rally at the Florida State Fair Grounds Expo Hall on July 31, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. Before the rally, President Trump was scheduled to visit the Tampa Bay Technical High School for a roundtable discussion on Workforce Development in Tampa. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as attendees applaud during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump smiles onstage during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees shout at members of the media during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Imagesz
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he takes the stage during a rally in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees stand in line ahead of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Tampa, Florida, U.S., on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Trump's suggestion that he'd be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with 'no preconditions,' saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already. Photographer: Zack Wittman/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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NBC News and The Wall Street Journal originally planned to survey respondents from Saturday, Aug. 18 thru Wednesday, Aug. 22. But after the Aug. 21 conviction of Manafort on tax and fraud charges — and the news that Cohen is cooperating with federal prosecutors after his guilty plea— the news organizations took the unusual step of commissioning an additional poll of 600 respondents from Wednesday, Aug. 22 to Saturday, Aug. 25. That second poll included questions about Manafort and Cohen as well as a look at the president’s approval rating after the new developments.

Despite the durability of Trump's approval even after one of the most dire weeks of his presidency, most voters are not convinced that Trump himself is completely insulated from the legal woes of his associates.

Asked if they believe that the six Trump associates who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of crimes signals only that those individuals committed crimes or that Trump himself may have participated in wrongdoing, 27 percent cite just the individuals (not Trump), 40 percent say Trump may be involved with potential wrongdoing and 30 percent don't know.

A majority of voters also say that Trump has not been honest and truthful when it comes to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Twenty-one percent strongly agree that he has been honest and truthful, 17 percent agree somewhat, 10 percent disagree somewhat and a plurality — 46 percent — disagree strongly.

Inside those numbers, however, there's some evidence that Republican defense of Trump's truthfulness is relatively soft. Among Democrats, 81 percent strongly disagree that Trump has been honest. Among Republicans, just 46 percent strongly agree that he has been honest.

And just about half (53 percent) of Republicans say that the guilty pleas by Trump's associates are limited only to those individuals and not the president, while a third — 35 percent — don't know enough to say.

Among Democrats, 71 percent say that Trump may be implicated in wrongdoing.

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Donald Trump through the years
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Donald Trump through the years

Donald Trump with Alfred Eisenpreis, New York City Economic Development Administrator. Sketch of new 1,400 room Renovation project of Commodore Hotel.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump pauses in his apartment 5/20 after receiving the news that the Board of Estimate unanimously approved a 40-year tax abatement plan. Under the plan Trump will purchase and refurbish the Commodore Hotel, which closed into doors 5/18, from the Penn Central Transportation Corp. In return for his $10-million-dollar purchase and up to $100 million face-lifting investment, Trump will have no real estate taxes for 40 years.

(Bettmann via Getty Images)

Real estate developer Donald Trump announces intentions to build a $100 million dollar Regency Hotel.

(Photo by John Pedin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump stands behind architect's model of City Hall Plaza.

(Photo by Frank Russo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City.

(Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

Donna Mills and Donald Trump during 1983 Annual American Image Awards at Sheraton Center in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Portrait of real estate mogul Donald John Trump (b.1946), smiling slightly and facing to his right, 1983. New York.

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Boxing promoter Don King holds up the arms of Mike Tyson and former champion Larry Holmes during a press conference here 12/1. Looking on is Donald Trump. The fight will be held at the Trump Plaza Hotel.

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Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare poses in the foyer of his home in August 1987 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

(Photo by Joe McNally/Getty Images)

Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Billionaire Donald Trump and his wife Ivana arrive 04 December 1989 at a social engagement in New York.

(Photo credit should read SWERZEY/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka Trump during Maybelline Presents 1991 Look of the Year at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 'Hoop-La' Special Olympics Basketball Game on June 25, 1992 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump and Joan Rivers during Opening of The Rose Room in the Plaza Hotel at Plaza Hotel Rose Room in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump touches 07 April 1993 Marla Maples stomach to confirm published reports that the actress is pregnant with his child. The two arrived for Maples appearance in the Broadway musical 'The Will Rogers Follies'.

(HAI DO/AFP/Getty Images)

US business tycoon Donald Trump enters the PLaza Hotel in New York past supporters 21 December 1994. Hundreds of supporters showed up at a news conference where Trump denied a New York newspaper report that the Sultan of Brunei had bid 300 million USD to buy the Manhattan hotel.

(Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends Marc Jacobs Fashion Show on April 4, 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Boxing: IBC Heavyweight Title: View of celebrity businessman Donald Trump and actor Steven Seagal seated ringside during Lennox Lewis vs Tommy Morrison fight at Boardwalk Convention Hall. Atlantic City, NJ. (Photo by John Iacono /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) 

New York real estate giant Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter 'T' on May 8, 1996.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Portrait of Marla Maples and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, with their daughter Tiffany, as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1996.

(Photo by Davidoff Studios/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ron Delsner backstage at a KISS concert at Madison Squre Garden in New York City on July 25, 1996.

(Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Donald Trump attending Halloween party thrown by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the Supper Club to kick off Fashion Week.  

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump open his new building at 1 Center Park West- The new Trump International Hotel and Tower.

(Photo byJames Hughes/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his girlfriend Celina Midelfar watch Conchita Martinez and Amanda Coetzer 07 September at US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

(TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Celine Dion, husband Rene, Donald Trump & Ivanka Trump

(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

Entrepreneur Donald Trump and Rev. Al Sharpton speak at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Sharpton's National Action Network Convention April 5, 2002 in New York City. The group aims to further the development of civil rights.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss attend the Marc Bouwer/Peta Fall/Winter 2002 Collection show February 14, 2002 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

(Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)

Donald Trump at Madison Square Garden

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Donald Trump stands on the sidelines before the start of the AFC divisional playoffs between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans on January 10, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Temperatures have reached as low as 7 degrees in the Foxboro area.

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Donald Trump, Visionary Business Leader award honoree, poses with his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka at Fashion Group International's 22nd Annual 'Night Of Stars' at Cipriani's 42nd Street October 27, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Eric Trump and Donald Trump attend the Chicago Bulls vs New Jersey Nets game at the IZOD Center on October 31, 2007 in East Rutherford, New York.

(Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

 Donald Trump delivers a speech with his son Barron after he was honored with the 2,327th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, 16 January 2007.

(GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Portrait of former model Melania Trump and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, as they sit together at a table during the 16th annual 'Lady in Red' gala, hosted by LIFE (Leaders In Furthering Education), at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, December 4, 2009.

(Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis via Getty Images)

Donald Trump sands with Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela prior to the Miss Universe 2010 Pageant Final at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on August 23, 2010. Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant and along with the Miss World is the most publicized beauty contest in the world. California clothing company Pacific Mills founded the contest 1952 and was acquired by Donald Trump in 1996.

(MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Real estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump attends Golf legend Jack Nicklaus' Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda March 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Trump announed on March 18 that he has launched a presidential exploratory committee.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference.

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

 Coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. On this final night of the convention, Donald Trump accepts the party's nomination for President of the United States.

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to an answer his wife Melania gives during an interview on NBC's "Today" show in New York, April 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his meeting with Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, meeting at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after Trump's address at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump has coffee during a reception ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017.Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump appear on stage at a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a U.S. Air Force Academy football jersey that was presented to him by team captain Weston Steelhammer during the presentation of the Commander-in-Chief trophy in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers the keynote address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's "Days of Remembrance" ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, U.S, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. first lady Melania Trump, their son Barron and the Easter Bunny arrive for the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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The Manafort and the Cohen developments are also solidly on voters' radar screens. Asked if they have heard about Paul Manafort being found guilty of multiple tax and bank fraud charges, 46 percent say they have heard a lot, 38 percent say they have heard some and 14 percent say they have not heard about it. Asked if they have heard about Michael Cohen pleading guilty to federal felony campaign finance charges, 46 percent say they have heard a lot, 34 percent say they have heard some, and 20 percent say they have not heard about it.

(That percentage makes Cohen and Manafort a big story, but not a huge one. For comparison, it's about the same percentage overall (around 80 percent of Americans) who had heard about former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal when it was receiving prominent news coverage, but a smaller share than had heard about the Access Hollywood tape (95 percent).

The earlier NBC/WSJ poll — conducted Aug. 18 through Aug. 22 — showed Democrats with an 8-point lead in congressional preference, with 50 percent of voters preferring a Democratic-controlled Congress and with 42 percent wanting Republicans in charge.

Last month, Democrats were ahead by 6 points on this question, 49 percent to 43 percent.

Voters were split on what concerns them more — Republicans not providing a check and balance on Trump if they control Congress (46 percent who say this), or Democrats going too far in obstructing the president if they’re in charge (45 percent).

They also were divided on what bothers them more — a Democratic candidate who supports House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s policies (47 percent), or a Republican candidate who supports Trump’s policies (45 percent).

And asked their opinions of Democrats winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, 41 percent of voters said that would be a good thing, while 38 percent say it would be a bad thing.

Still, Democrats continue to enjoy an edge in enthusiasm: 63 percent of Democratic voters express a high level of interest in the upcoming elections — registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale — compared with 52 percent of GOP voters who do the same.

What’s more, 56 percent of Democratic voters believe November’s elections are more important to them than past congressional elections, versus just 38 percent of Republicans who think that.

“Democrats are going to win [House] seats in 2018,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates. “The question is: How many will that be?”

“The reason why the Democrats still have the upper hand is the enthusiasm issue,” Yang adds.

The NBC/WSJ survey conducted mostly before the Cohen-Manafort news also finds Republicans with a 14-point advantage in which party better deals with the economy — their biggest lead on this question in the poll’s history.

Forty-three percent of voters say the GOP better handles the economy, while 29 percent pick the Democrats.

Republicans also hold the edge on trade (R+8), taxes (R+5), guns (R+5) and changing how Washington works (R+4).

Democrats, meanwhile, have the advantages on the environment (D+38), health care (D+18), ethics in government (D+14), looking out for the middle class (D+12) and immigration (D+4).

Finally, the earlier NBC/WSJ poll shows 33 percent of voters supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, versus 29 who oppose his nomination; 37 percent say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

In July, it was 32 percent support, 26 percent oppose.

The earlier NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 900 registered voters between Aug. 18-22, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 3.27 percent.

The second NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 600 registered voters between Aug. 22-25, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 4.00 percent.

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