Pluralities disapprove the president's handling of border security and immigration issues, and say would-be immigrants across the southern border with Mexico would strengthen rather than weaken America. A 52 percent majority opposes construction of a wall or fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, while 45 percent favor it.
Unlike some other national polls, the NBC/WSJ survey did not show a decline in Trump's overall approval rating. That assessment, buoyed by majority support for his handling of the economy, remained unchanged from December: 43 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove.
Underneath that unimpressive showing lies sharply negative assessments of the president. Just one-third of Americans express confidence that Trump has the right goals and policies; an even lower proportion, 28 percent, express confidence that he has the right personal characteristics to be president.
On both counts, he compares unfavorably to public assessments of his predecessors: Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
By 47 percent to 36 percent, Americans rate Trump negatively rather than positively for "being a good negotiator," the characteristic he has long claimed as his signature quality. He fares even worse on "being steady and reliable" (53 percent negative, 32 percent positive), "being knowledgeable and experienced enough" (54 percent negative, 32 percent positive), "being honest and trustworthy" (58 percent negative, 28 percent positive) and "having high personal and ethical standards" (58 percent negative, 24 percent positive).
The telephone survey of 900 adults, conducted Jan. 20-23, carries a margin for error of 3.27 percentage points.