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Exclusive poll: EPA chief is vulnerable despite low profile

Data: HarrisX online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and over, May 4-5, 2018; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a low approval rating, but substantial swaths of the public don't have a strong opinion about Pruitt or know much about the ethics controversies surrounding him, according to a HarrisX Overnight Poll commissioned by Axios.

Yes, but: The poll also finds that 80 percent of Americans believe Pruitt should be fired if EPA's inspector general finds that he misused his position — even if President Trump thinks he's doing a good job. That signals that even some of Trump's backers will not stand by Pruitt if the ongoing investigations find there's fire to go along with the all the smoke at EPA.

The big picture: The poll suggests that Pruitt is not a hugely well-known or resonant figure outside the Beltway, despite generating weeks of negative press and waging an aggressive campaign to unwind environmental rules.

The EPA boss is facing a suite of Capitol Hill and internal probes over his spending and travel, hiring practices, ties to lobbyists and more.

By the numbers: The poll finds . . .

  • Pruitt is viewed favorably by 17 percent and unfavorably by 22 percent. But 30 percent hold neither view, and 32 percent have never heard of him.
  • Just 21 percent approve of the job he's doing at EPA, 25 percent disapprove, but over half the people surveyed held neither view.

Methodology: The online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and over was conducted May 4-5, 2018. The results reflect a nationally representative sample. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, and wireless carrier where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.