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A new poll designed to test President Trump’s vulnerabilities on foreign policy heading into the 2020 election finds that economic pain from the China trade war, unraveling alliances and Trump’s relations with Russia are of particular concern to swing voters.

Expand chart
Data: Hart Research Associates survey of 1,205 likely voters conduced April 23–27, 2019; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: The poll was commissioned by National Security Action, a group founded by former top Obama administration officials that is advising Democratic candidates on foreign policy. Jeff Prescott, the group’s executive director, says that while Republicans and incumbents traditionally have an advantage on national security, that's undercut by concerns over Trump’s temperament. He contends that Democrats have “a real opportunity to go on offense” on foreign policy in 2020.

The big picture: Trump significantly outperforms his 44% overall approval rating when it comes to national security, on which 55% of all likely voters and 63% of undecided voters approve of his performance.

Pollster Geoff Garin says that's in part because voters aren’t paying as much attention to foreign policy as they are to other issues. He says Trump's support dwindles when voters are asked about specific policies and actions.

  • Voters tend to approve of many aspects of Trump’s foreign policy, such as pushing NATO countries to spend more on defense and attempting negotiations with North Korea.
  • However, 46% believe Trump has made America less safe, compared to 38% who say he’s made the country safer. Meanwhile, 57% believe he has made America less respected around the world, while 67% worry he “lacks the temperament we need in a commander in chief.”
  • What to watch: 41% of respondents say Trump’s foreign policy is a reason to re-elect him, 45% say it’s a reason to elect someone else, and 14% say it’s not a consideration.

Given a range of foreign policy considerations and asked to select the most important, swing voters prioritize “protecting Americans from terrorism,” “keeping America out of war” and “standing up for American values like human rights and democracy.”

  • Voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to keep the U.S. out of war, work effectively with other countries and defend American values, but trust Republicans more to protect the country from terrorism.

The pollsters also tested 20 potential lines of attack against Trump and found that undecided voters were most concerned that Trump was weakening alliances, defending dictators and waging a trade war that will cost jobs and raise prices.

The bottom line: Trump fares reasonably well with undecided voters on national security, but that support appears brittle. Prescott says that underlines the need for Democrats to challenge him on these issues in 2020.

Go deeper

Scoop: CIA director Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.