Voters flunk Trump on Puerto Rico response — most say he doesn't care about the island's problems

Key Points
  • Most voters say President Donald Trump's response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has not been adequate, according to a Quinnipiac poll.
  • A majority of voters say Trump did enough to respond to hurricanes that battered Texas and Florida.
  • Most of the island remains without power and many areas lack clean drinking water three weeks after the storm.
Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) observe as an MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter drops pallets of supplies onto the flight deck during a replenishment-at-sea with the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) for relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico on September 28, 2017.
Ryre Arciaga | U.S. Navy | Reuters

President Donald Trump gives himself high marks for his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico.

Most voters disagree.

A full 55 percent of American voters say the Trump administration has not done enough to help the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria battered it, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday. Only 36 percent responded that the reaction has been adequate.

Conversely, 57 percent of voters said the Trump administration has done enough to help Texas after Hurricane Harvey. The same number think the response to Hurricane Irma in Florida was adequate.

In addition, most voters — by a margin of 52 percent to 43 percent — said Trump does not care about the problems facing Puerto Rico, according to the poll.

Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, causing widespread destruction. Three weeks later, more than 80 percent of the island remains without power, and many residents still lack access to clean drinking water. At least 45 people on the island have died.

Trump has repeatedly described the administration's response to recent hurricanes as "incredible" or "great." In a tweet earlier this month, he said, "We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico," suggesting critics of his response were "Fake News or politically motivated ingrates."

Over the weekend, he tweeted that "nobody could have done what I've done" for Puerto Rico "with so little appreciation."

Trump took more heat for his response on Thursday when he partly blamed the island for the devastation and said federal emergency responders cannot stay there "forever."

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the administration's response.

"Our job in any disaster affected location is to help the community respond and recover from that disaster. We continue to do so with the full force of the US government and its resources in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and other affected areas," she said.

"Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives. We are committed to helping Puerto Rico. Our Administration is working with Governor Rossello and Congress to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward," Sanders added.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,482 voters and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.