As Shutdown Continues, The President’s Political Position Weakens

As the shutdown continues, the President's political position is becoming weaker. He doesn't seem to care, though.

With the government shutdown in day thirty-three, new polling is showing that the President’s political position is continuing to suffer notwithstanding the White House’s effort to shift the blame to House and Senate Democrats:

President Donald Trump’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high amid a historically long partial government shutdown and concerns about the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Nearly 6-in-10 voters — 57 percent — disapprove of Trump’s job performance, compared to the 40 percent that approve. In addition, 54 percent of voters blame Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill for the government shutdown. Only 35 percent blame congressional Democrats.

There has been no progress on negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as the president, to end the government shutdown — the longest partial government shutdown in history. Trump has not backed down from his request of $5.7 billion for his border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats have not agreed to.

“As the government shutdown enters its second month, President Trump continues to carry the bulk of the blame among voters for the stalemate,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “In this week’s poll nearly half of voters (49 percent) say the president is responsible — up 6 points since the shutdown began. At the same time, 35 percent of voters blame congressional Democrats, up 4 points, while 4 percent of voters blame congressional Republicans, down 3 points.”

While 43 percent support the construction of a border wall — compared to 49 percent who oppose construction — only 7 percent of voters said that they support dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown.

That’s compared to 72 percent who oppose dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way.

When asked whether they will approve of dedicating funds to border security, but not a wall, to end the shutdown, 34 percent supported. Fifty-one percent, however, still opposed that plan.

A new poll from CBS News has similar numbers, and also shows that the vast majority of Americans do not believe that a border wall is worth forcing a government shutdown:

Seven in 10 Americans don’t think the issue of a border wall is worth a government shutdown, which they say is now having a negative impact on the country. But partisans don’t want their own side to budge: 65 percent of Republicans say President Trump should refuse a budget unless it includes wall funding, and 69 percent of Democrats think congressional Democrats should keep refusing to fund it.

Among Americans overall, and including independents, more want to see Mr. Trump give up wall funding than prefer the congressional Democrats agree to wall funding. Comparably more Americans feel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is handling negotiations better than the president is so far.


Mr. Trump’s overall approval rating has dipped three points from November to 36 percent today. Fifty-nine percent of Americans now disapprove of the job he is doing – a high for his presidency, although just one point above his previous high. The president’s ratings have not varied much over the course of his term so far.

Overall, more Americans say congressional Democrats care about the needs and problems of people like them than say that about President Trump. Most younger Americans, women and racial minorities say Democrats in Congress care about their needs and problems.

On specific issues, Mr. Trump gets relatively stronger ratings on his handling of the economy and the threat of terrorism. He gets more negative ratings on immigration and health care. The president continues to get high approval from Republicans on these issues.

There is a bit of difference since the fall in the president’s overall ratings among some groups that have supported him and voted for him in strong numbers, but these ratings have seen other small fluctuations up and down in the past two years, and many in these groups still think the president cares about people like them

Third, a new poll from the Associated Press and NORC shows the President’s job approval hitting new polls:

A strong majority of Americans blame President Donald Trump for the record-long government shutdown and reject his primary rationale for a border wall, according to a new poll that shows the turmoil in Washington is dragging his approval rating to its lowest level in more than a year.

Overall, 34 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance in a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s down from 42 percent a month earlier and nears the lowest mark of his two-year presidency. The president’s approval among Republicans remains close to 80 percent, but his standing with independents is among its lowest points of his time in office.


The drop in approval comes as Trump begins the third year of his presidency under the weight of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, an international trade war that’s straining the global economy and new revelations about his push for a real estate deal in Russia during his 2016 campaign.

Compared with earlier presidents, Trump’s approval rating has been relatively stable over the course of his presidency, ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-40s.

By contrast, President Barack Obama never fell below 40 percent in polling by Gallup. Still, five presidents since Gallup began measuring presidential approval have had their rating fall into the 20s at least once, including Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Trump has never fallen into that range of historic lows, but he’s also the only president never to have reached 50 percent in Gallup’s polling.

The new AP-NORC poll shows most Americans see the shutdown as a major problem, and they blame Trump far more than congressional Democrats for the mess that has ensnared the lives of roughly 800,000 government workers who are going without pay.

Sixty percent of Americans say Trump bears a great deal of responsibility for the shutdown. About a third place the same amount of blame on congressional Democrats (31 percent) or Republicans (36 percent).

Sixty-five percent of Americans, including 86 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 33 percent of Republicans, call the shutdown a major problem.

As both of these polls show, the shutdown has had a particularly bad impact on the President’s job approval, and this is shown in other polling as well:

  • In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, the President’s job approval stands at 42% and his disapproval stands at 55% for a deficit of -13 points
  • The latest Rasmussen Reports poll, which the President has often cited due to the fact that it has tended to paint him in the best light, has the President’s approval at 44% and his disapproval at 56%, for a deficit of -12 points;
  • The latest Emerson College poll has the President’s job approval at 42$ and his disapproval at 52%, for a deficit of -10 points;
  • The latest Public Policy Polling poll has the President’s job approval at 40% and his disapproval at 57%, for a deficit of -17 points; and,
  • The latest Harvard Harris poll has the President’s job approval at 45% and his disapproval at 55%, for a deficit of -10 points.

It’s worth noting that all of the polls cited above were taken either contemporaneously with or in the immediate wake of the President’s speech on Saturday in which he purported to offer a compromise solution to the shutdown that Democrats have subsequently rejected.

Looking at the polling averages, it’s clear that things are not looking good for the President. In the RealClearPolitics poll average, for example, the President’s average job approval stands at 40.8% while his average disapproval stands at 55.8%, giving the President an -15.0 point gap in job the FiveThirtyEight average, the President stands at 39.7% while his disapproval stands at 55.6%, for a gap of -15.9%. While these numbers are consistent with what we’ve seen throughout the Trump Presidency, they also tend to indicate that there is no indication at all that the President is “winning” this argument, something that can clearly be seen in the RealClearPolitics chart:

To put this in perspective, on December 18th, just prior to the shutdown, the Presidents average job approval stood at 42.6% and his disapproval stood at 51.9%, for a -9.3 point deficit. After just over a month, then, there has been a noticeable impact on the President’s job approval, and it’s only likely to get worse as time goes on.

Update (1/24/2019): To add to the polls above, a new Fox News poll was released last night that puts the President’s job approval at 43% and his disapproval at 54% for a deficit. This changes the RealClearPolitics average to put Trump at 40.9% approve and 55.7 disapprove, for a net deficit of -14.8 points. In the FiveThirtyEight Average, the President’s job approval now stands at 39.5% and his disapproval at 55.9% for a net deficit of -16.4 points.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. Argon says:

    So basically his only support is exclusively coming from the ever shrinking Republican base…

    This is not news.

  2. CSK says:

    Apparently, Trump is going to give the SOTU address at a different venue, since Speaker Pelosi is denying him access to the House while the shutdown continues. Look for a red state rally that will, no doubt, be punctuated by screams of “Build the wall!”

  3. Franklin says:

    Supreme Court has refused to look at the lower court’s rejection of his administration’s attempt to end DACA, so it remains in place for now. That further weakens Trump’s negotiating position.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: 800,000 government workers, and gawd knows how many non gov’t employees aren’t getting paid. Which makes not one whit of difference to Trump. This has to hurt him before anything happens. Which is why it’s so clever of Pelosi to deny him the SOTU.

    The networks are under no obligation to broadcast a Trump rally. I hope at least some of them will remember that. But in any case, the Congress in joint session is a way better stage setting than a bunch of screaming Trumpskyites. And if they do broadcast it, I trust they will recognize an obligation to cover a D response.

  5. Kathy says:


    Apparently, Trump is going to give the SOTU address at a different venue,

    Oh, he’ll be fine. I’m sure with a minimum of begging, he can persuade his sugar daddy to let him deliver the SOTU to the Duma.

  6. Teve says:

    Today we started to see some protest activity from a few of the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the shutdown. when they don’t get their second check on Friday, we could see major demonstrations this weekend, heading into his State of the Union rally. how’s he going to look delivering the cliche line “the state of our Union is strong”, on a split screen with hundreds of thousands of people protesting?

  7. PJ says:

    Time for Trump to wag the dog.

    Venezuela can look forward to being invaded pretty soon!

  8. MarkedMan says:

    It cannot be stressed enough: The Modern Republican Party feels that if they can’t get their way it is a legitimate negotiating tactic to hold hostage the paychecks of 800K innocent people.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    As far as Trump “not caring”, I think his reptilian brain is processing it differently. While it’s true Trump is nominally a Republican, he doesn’t see himself as defined by anything other than “Trump”, and so he really doesn’t care who caves first, the Democrats or the Republicans. In the case of the Democrats, this means agreeing to the wall. In the case of the Republicans, this means overriding his veto. Either way, his base will blame someone else and he’s happy to attack them day and night.

  10. Kathy says:


    It seems things are about to boil over in Caracas. If there’s a civil war, Dennison has already chosen sides. Not that he favors the wrong side, but that makes it harder to then not support it.

    He probably won’t let US diplomats leave the country, as Maduro has ordered, and precisely because Maduro has ordered it. Again, not necessarily the wrong move, but he leaves his diplomats in a vulnerable position. Remember Iran in the 70s? I’d evacuate non-essential personnel while there is still a chance to send a plane (a charter, not an Air Force transport) to fetch them peacefully.

    Who the hell knows what Maduro will do. he may give Dennison the foreign policy flashpoint he needs right now. He might, for example, surround the embassy with troops and not let anyone leave. He can round up US diplomats outside the embassy and expel them off Venezuela, especially if they meet with the other guy claiming to be president.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Wait, is he really saying he won’t evacuate? Has this ever been done before? What kind of diplomat would stay in a country illegally? It doesn’t even make sense. They could end up in jail.

  12. Kathy says:


    He hasn’t said much. But if 1) Dennison doesn’t recognize Maduro as legitimate, 2) he does recognize Guaido as the legitimate president, 3) Guaido is asking “all embassies” to remain in the country, and 4) A senior administration official calls Maduro’s order to leave the country “meaningless,” then there’s a good chance Dennison will tell them to stay put.

    I’ve heard nothing about any Venezuelan diplomats in the US, either at an embassy or the UN.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Do we have a dog in this fight?

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    Everyone relax, it always works out great when we intervene in Latin America.

  15. Kathy says:


    Has that ever stopped an unpopular politician who gets sold on a quick and easy victory? Hell, who’s convinced if he’s in charge, victory cannot be anything but quick and easy.

  16. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: @Kathy:

    Really, who the hell knows what Trump will do from one minute to the next?

  17. Kathy says:


    The really big problem, is that Trump doesn’t know either.

  18. CSK says:

    Oh, that goes without saying.

  19. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: I thought women loved spontaneous men?

  20. grumpy realist says:

    @Franklin: someone’s getting his ideas from Hollywood and TV movies….

  21. CSK says:

    Trump caved. No SOTU address till after the shutdown ends.

    As of this moment, anyway.

  22. rachel says:

    @Some Dude: You misread that. Nancy Pelosi is less unpopular than Donald Trump.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Yes, the question was rhetorical. It would not surprise me in the least if Guaidó was even worse than Maduro.

  24. Tony W says:

    Just like the SOTU, Trump will ultimately fold like a cheap suit. He has the negotiating skills of a toddler.