- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 24, 2018

President Trump has taken firm control of the conservative movement in the U.S. according to the CPAC-Washington Times poll, released Saturday, which found grassroots leaders on the political right thrilled with just about everything he’s doing — except his tweeting.

Mr. Trump scored a massive 93 percent approval rating from the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Even a significant number of people who said they opposed him in the primaries and the general election saying he’s earned their support.

“The conservative movement has found a new leader,” said Jim McLaughlin, who ran the poll.

Conservatives gave strong backing to the president immigration plan, with three-quarters of those surveyed in the CPAC-Times poll saying they agree with his proposal to link an amnesty for some illegal immigrants with stronger border security, new limits to the chain of family migration, an end to “catch-and-release” for illegal immigrants and scratching the visa lottery altogether.

Cheryl Howell, a stay-at-home mom who lives outside of Reston, said the president was brilliant for making the offer as part of this month’s immigration debate in the Senate.

“He’s exposing the liberal, progressive Democrats for being fake,” she said. “He’s calling their bluff. This is a wedge issue for them - this is something that they can use to get their party, to get their people energized to go out and vote. If they really wanted it, they could have done it under Obama.”

She said wasn’t too keen on granting a full pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” but said whatever happens, curtailing the long chains of family migration that allow immigrants to sponsor siblings and parents must be shut down.

The CPAC-Washington Times poll offers an exceptional look into the beliefs of the country’s right-leaning activists and students, who gather annually for three days of speeches, panels and parties in a Maryland suburb just outside the Beltway. This year’s CPAC-Times poll surveyed 1,155 attendees.

They not only back Mr. Trump, but increasingly want Congress to follow his lead. A striking 79 percent said the GOP majorities in the House and Senate should be doing more to support the president — up from the 67 percent in last year’s poll.

Just 4 percent of the conservatives said Congress should try to stymy Mr. Trump’s agenda.

CPAC attendees also took a generally dim view of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, with 60 percent saying he’s been unfair — and most of those people saying he’s been “very” unfair. Just 21 percent said Mr. Mueller has been fair in his probe.

“My problem with the Mueller investigation is it doesn’t have scope,” said Joey Pickens, a student from Carnegie Mellon University. “They basically tell him investigate Russian collusion, and once he doesn’t find Russian collusion or whatever his narrow assignment was, he’s not really sticking to that. He’s basically at this point looking for things.”

The one area where conservatives did seem to break with Mr. Trump was on tweeting.

While 35 percent said they wished Mr. Trump would step up the tweeting, more — 40 percent — said they wished he’d tweet less. Another 13 percent said he’s getting it about right, and 11 percent said they didn’t care one way or the other about his tweeting.

Those who wanted Mr. Trump to cool it on the tweeting said he’s distracting from his own message.

“He sometimes steps on his own message. Other times it’s great - shoots right over the press. That’s really good - I think he should [do it] maybe a little bit less, but keep it up,” said Raymond Aspinwall, 70, a retired local government employee from Englewood, N.J.

In another surprising finding, conservatives did not want to see the Senate curtail the filibuster.

Just 38 percent said they wanted to see the GOP majority in the Senate get rid of the filibuster that has stymied part of Republicans’ agenda.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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