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On the nation's key issues, Americans trust Pelosi over Trump

Image: 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration
WASHINGTON, USA - JANUARY 20: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) President-elect Donald Trump greets House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Congressional...

A new national poll from Quinnipiac asked Americans, "Who do you trust more on the issue of border security: President Trump or the Democrats in Congress?" The Democratic advantage was clear: 50% sided with congressional Dems, while 41% backed the Republican president.

If Donald Trump were inclined to believe discouraging poll results, this one would sting. Border security is, by most measures, the president's signature issue. He's focused on it obsessively, to the point that he even orchestrated the longest government shutdown in American history in pursuit of his misguided border-security goals.

And yet, when the public is given a choice, they prefer Trump's antagonists on his favorite issue.

But there was another result from the same poll that should cause even more unease among Republicans.

American voters trust House Speaker Nancy Pelosi more than President Donald Trump, 49 - 42 percent "on issues that are important to you," according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Independent voters trust Pelosi more than President Trump 49 - 36 percent. [...]"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - one; President Donald Trump - zero. The first round of many to come in the heavyweight bout goes the Speaker's way as Trump takes the hit for the shutdown and his party is suffering along with him," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Results like this should prompt some reevaluation of long-held assumptions about Nancy Pelosi's public standing.

Among Republicans, it's simply assumed that the California Democrat is seen as a villainous "San Francisco liberal." Ahead of many recent elections, GOP officials and their political allies reflexively run attack ads -- occasionally in races that are unrelated to the U.S. House -- trying to tie Democratic candidates to Pelosi.

In last year's special election in Ohio's 12th congressional district, for example, Republicans and their outside allies spent millions of dollars blanketing the airwaves, and roughly a third of their ads referenced the then-House Minority Leader.

About a year earlier, when Republicans were quite concerned about losing special elections in Montana and Georgia, GOP leaders made no effort to hide their strategy: they'd just keep complaining about Pelosi and count on conservative voters to have the conditioned, knee-jerk response.

"I think we'll see if it works," then-NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) said. "I believe it still works."

According to the new book from Cliff Sims, a former aide in Trump's White House, the president told then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in reference to Pelosi, "Have you seen her? She's a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected."

And yet, despite all of these assumptions about the public's contempt for Pelosi, on the issues that are most important to Americans, the public prefers the House Speaker to Trump.