Republicans, Once the Party of McCarthyism, Now Approve of Trump's Putin Praise, New Poll Indicates

Republicans overwhelmingly approved of President Donald Trump's handling of his press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite the reactions from top GOP lawmakers and some in the conservative establishment, according to a new poll released Thursday.

Trump's approval among Republicans has remained strong since he entered office and the Axios and Survey Monkey poll indicated there was very little the president could do wrong in the eyes of Republicans, even while Trump wavers on Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Seventy-nine percent of Republicans approved of Trump's performance alongside Putin, while 91 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents disapproved.

Overall, Trump received 58 percent disapproval and 40 percent approval, though both figures were clearly skewed by the deep partisan divide that often accompanies Trump.

Those results backed up a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday, which showed 55 percent overall disapproved of Trump's work on Russian relations. But, the poll also reflected approval from 71 percent of Republicans.

The results echoed Trump's recent approval ratings among the GOP. Earlier this month, Trump registered a 90 percent approval rating from Republicans, while only 8 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents offered approval, according to Gallup. Throughout his 18 months in office, Trump has never received less than 78 percent approval from Republicans in Gallup's poll.

The recent findings suggest a strong shift within a Republican Party that was staunchly anti-Russia for decades. Starting with notorious Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and his firebrand style known as "McCarthyism," the GOP has long been firmly anti-Communism and viewed Russia as the nation's greatest enemy.

Under Trump, the Republican base appears ready to back a leader who claims to desire better relations with Russia in order to combat terrorism and other issues around the world.

The apparent Republican devotion to Trump has continued despite strong rebukes from Republican lawmakers about his press conference with Putin. The president suggested Monday he believed Putin's denials of election meddling despite the widespread conclusion by the U.S. intelligence community.

Trump attempted to clean up his comment Tuesday when he claimed he was caught in a "double-negative" during this remarks at the press conference. The president said he intended to say "wouldn't" instead of "would" when he spoke about whether or not Russia interfered.

The president's cherry-picking of intelligence was exposed late Wednesday after a New York Times report revealed he had been briefed on Putin's involvement and direction of cyberattacks against the U.S. in order to meddle two weeks prior to his inauguration in January 2017.

Trump tried to further reverse course on Twitter Thursday morning when he posted a video showing the times he has stated publicly that Russia meddled, though several of the clips show Trump saying "other countries" could also have been involved.

Trump has labeled the summit with Putin a "great success," but his detractors have used the press conference to further accusations of collusion with Russia to win the presidency. Others have suggested that Putin has some sort of damning information on Trump and is hanging it over the president to improve Russia's standing in the world.

The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media. I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear........

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018

....proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems...but they can ALL be solved!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2018