Confidence in President Donald Trump’s ability to find a solution to the North Korea problem is on the rise among American voters, according to new polls.
In recent months, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has shifted toward diplomacy and away from the possibility of nuclear war.
Kim Jong Un has started engaging his neighbors, meeting with both Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The North Korean leader is expected to participate in a summit meeting with Trump in Singapore in June. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made two trips to North Korea to meet with Kim in preparation for that meeting.
Furthermore, Pyongyang has made several gestures of goodwill, including returning three American prisoners and agreeing to dismantle the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. North Korea has also expressed a commitment to denuclearization.
Rising tensions between Washington and Pyongyang characterized 2017 as the Trump administration implemented its maximum pressure strategy and North Korea tested new missiles and bombs, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically able to range the continental U.S. and a staged thermonuclear bomb (hydrogen bomb).
However, 2018 has been defined by peaceful diplomatic overtures, which the Trump administration perceives as a victory for its maximum pressure strategy.
At least half of American voters have some measure of confidence in the president’s ability to resolve this issue, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted between May 10 and 14.
A CBS News poll released May 7 revealed that Trump’s approval rating with regard to the North Korea issue has risen from 34 percent in January to 51 percent.
The prospect of a Trump-Kim summit could be behind the increase, but the unprecedented meeting is in jeopardy.
Pyongyang has canceled talks with South Korea indefinitely and threatened the Trump-Kim summit. The North is frustrated by U.S.-South Korean joint military drills, as well as offensive statements by the Trump administration.
In particular, North Korea is irritated by Trump’s claims that he and his maximum pressure strategy brought North Korea to the table, annoyed by Pompeo’s offer to save North Korea from economic despair if it denuclearizes, and infuriated by White House national security adviser John Bolton’s offensive proposal to apply the “Libya model” to North Korean denuclearization.
The rhetoric of the relevant North Korean state media report was softer than some of the regime’s more bombastic reports, but it was a decidedly harsh criticism of the administration’s behavior. The White House has said that it remains “hopeful.”
It is unclear if positive poll numbers will hold if diplomacy breaks down, raising regional tensions.
The Politico poll had a sample size of 1,993 registered voters and a margin of error of two percentage points. The CBS poll had a sample size of 1,101 adults nationwide and a margin of error of three percentage points.
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