Updated Jan 12, 2018 - Politics & Policy

New poll: Most see Trump’s mental fitness as legitimate concern

Good job, America — you turned the president's brain into another partisan fight. A new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll shows that a little more than half of Americans think President Trump's mental fitness is a legitimate issue — but Democrats overwhelmingly say it's an important issue while most Republicans say the questions are "unfair and politically motivated."

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll conducted January 10-11 among a national sample of 1,412 adults. Margin of error +/- 3.5%. Poll Methodology; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: Questions about Trump's mental state have been raised by some psychiatrists and returned to prominence after the publication of the new book "Fire and Fury." Trump is scheduled to get a physical examination by the White House physician today, but that's not going to tell us anything about his brain. The White House says it's not going to include a psychiatric exam, and it's not expected to have other cognitive tests.

A group of psychiatrists has been warning that Trump's mental state poses a "serious danger," based on behavior ranging from aggressive tweets to what Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee called "belligerent nuclear threats" against North Korea. Author Michael Wolff ramped up the issue in his book, "Fire and Fury," with his claims that White House officials are concerned about Trump's mental sharpness.

  • The catch: The psychiatrists' warnings have resonated mainly with Democrats — Republicans haven't engaged, and the White House has pushed back aggressively. The psychiatrists acknowledge they can't actually diagnose him from a distance, and the American Psychiatric Association's "Goldwater rule" discourages such talk anyway.

What's next: Whatever we learn about Trump's physical health — not his mental health — will come soon. The White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, will give a "detailed readout" in the White House briefing room on Tuesday, per White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. (Trump said yesterday he'll be "very surprised" if his physical doesn't go well.)

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