Trump Wears out his Welcome

So says Pew.

President Donald J. Trump disembarks Marine One at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, and is escorted to Air Force One by U.S. Air Force personnel. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Via Pew Research Center: Biden Begins Presidency With Positive Ratings; Trump Departs With Lowest-Ever Job Mark.

Donald Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct. The share of voters who rate Trump’s conduct since the election as only fair or poor has risen from 68% in November to 76%, with virtually all of the increase coming in his “poor” ratings (62% now, 54% then).

Trump voters, in particular, have grown more critical of their candidate’s post-election conduct. The share of his supporters who describe his conduct as poor has doubled over the past two months, from 10% to 20%.

It is noteworthy that we are seeing this movement, as it demonstrates that Trump’s bad behavior post-election is not being ignored by Republican voters. I know some will say “too little, too late” and there is something to that notion. But I would counter with “better late than never.”

For many, the shocking events of Jan. 6 – when some Trump supporters heeded the president’s call to march to the Capitol to protest Congress’ acceptance of Biden’s victory and then went on a violent rampage throughout the building – have seriously marred Trump’s final days as president.

Three-quarters of the public say the president bears at least some responsibility for the violence and destruction committed by some of his supporters, with 52% saying he bears a lot of responsibility for their actions. Just about a quarter (24%) say Trump has no responsibility for what took place.

Chart shows majority of public does not want Trump to remain a major political figure

This is a little disheartening, insofar as a lot of people have lost confidence in the electoral system as a result of elites telling them to distrust it:

Among voters overall, 65% say Biden definitely or probably “received the most votes cast by eligible voters in enough states to win the election”; 54% say he definitely won the most votes. But 34% incorrectly say Trump definitely or probably was the rightful election winner.

But, Trump has definitely lost ground with his co-partisans:

Chart shows Trump's job approval drops sharply, almost entirely among Republicans

Lots more at the link.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. M. Bouffant says:

    “Better late than never.” but never better late.

    4
  2. Jay L Gischer says:

    Opinions can change, but they change slowly.

    2
  3. ImProPer says:

    “Donald Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct.”

    This is good news, its not the 0.0% one would like to see, but does imply that at least a few of his die hards are seeing a little reality.

    “This is a little disheartening, insofar as a lot of people have lost confidence in the electoral system as a result of elites telling them to distrust it”

    This definitely is concerning. Not necessarily for those that might disenfranchise themselves at the behest of a Trumpian minister. The willfully ignorant are a threat to our National well-being whether they’re voting or not.
    The reflexive mistrust of elites is another story. (Actually with the likes of Trump and his ilk being thrust into the mixed bag called “elites”, the term “experts” is a better descriptor for what I am referring to.) Many norms have been broken by them as well. In our current state of manichean politics, experts have routinely stepped outside their fields, and used their clout providing opinions outside their expertise for partisan purposes. The dispensers of news, are all but propaganda machines. Stating the obvious, we are in a tough spot, but will be in a better position on the 20th. Trumpism while quite putrid, is just a symptom. If Joe brings his A game we can turn the corner, towards a solution.

    4
  4. Franklin says:

    “This is a little disheartening, insofar as a lot of people have lost confidence in the electoral system as a result of elites telling them to distrust it”

    Elites, right.

    2
  5. de stijl says:

    Elites is a slippery term.

    AOC is an elite. Upjumped ex-bar server.

    Boebert is salt of the earth. Current bar owner.

    Class distinctions aside, that Ocasio-Cortez is deemed elite, and that Boebert is deemed common clay of the new west is pretty telling.

    I was told that boot-strapping was a good thing. Rs sing a decidedly mixed message on class. Class mobility is fine as long as you get the big picture and do no get too uppity.

    Not so on race. That message is crystal clear.

    Trump was the grasping scion of a grasping realty magnate from Queens. Or a paragon of new money.

    Class often depends on the perceiver.

    11
  6. de stijl says:

    The R / lean R decline in Trump positivity is a leading indicator.

    Come March we will have been told that that was an outlier and that Trump has been retroactively disacknowledged.

    They call us Orwellian, mind you.

    Mark my words. Rs are gonna get suddenly very keen on the deficit. Last 4 years ignored. It is the hammer they always forget when in power suddenly remembered when in the minority.

    Economic distress my butt. Screw those guys.

    7
  7. Kylopod says:

    Most presidents, even defeated ones, see their approval increase in the lame duck. Why hasn’t that happened now? If there’s one thing that can be described as the central aspect of Trump’s brand, it’s the notion that he’s a “winner.” This was always as much BS as anything else he ever promoted about himself, but it’s something his supporters clung to for a long time as an all-purpose defense of him. “He may be a pig, but at least he’s a winner.” And that’s exactly what the 2020 election punctured–his last line of defense, as it were. Even the claim that the election was stolen from him isn’t enough to prop up this myth, because part of the myth wasn’t just that he won things in a legitimate sense, but that he triumphed over every challenge. No matter how they spin it, they can’t get around the fact that he won’t be president after Jan. 20, and after all his efforts to overturn the results, they know it represents a defeat. They can call it an illegitimate defeat until they’re red in the face, but the fact it happened at all conflicts with their entire worldview that Trump always gets what he wants. That’s why they’ve been in denial over it for weeks, insisting not just that Biden’s victory was the result of fraud but that Trump would actually succeed in overturning the results and being sworn in to a second term. So what we’re seeing now isn’t just disgust at the violence–it’s his whole act being obliterated before their eyes.

    4
  8. Kylopod says:

    I tend to roll my eyes at claims that Trump’s got some kind of hidden genius that explains how he’s gotten as far as he has. I still think he’s basically a moron. But if there’s one skill I’d credit him with, it’s that he’s shown an unusual ability throughout his career to repeatedly reinvent himself as a celebrity. So after all his business failures, he managed to avoid fading into irrelevance. I personally think The Osbournes had something to do with it, because it launched a particular subset of reality TV in which washed-out celebs were able to resuscitate their careers, and Trump took great advantage of that trend in the mid-2000s. And after that began to wear thin, that’s when he entered politics. Make no mistake: he’s still a two-bit con artist with no real skill who wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if he hadn’t been born into wealth. But I do think he has some instincts on how to shift and adapt after his current venture goes down in flames.

    I’ve been listening to Mary Trump’s interviews recently, and I think she’s got a great deal of insight into his personality. She indicates that he’s never really been in a situation like the current one–in the past even after objectively failing, he knew how to spin it into a victory of sorts, even if it was based on lying and cheating. He can’t do that anymore, not in the present situation. For the first time in his career he’s encountered a type of defeat he can’t wriggle out of.

    3
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Class distinctions aside, that Ocasio-Cortez is deemed elite, and that Boebert is deemed common clay of the new west is pretty telling.

    Well, Boebert does come with a criminal record and a sexually deviant husband, where as AOC is living in sin and has a clean rap sheet.

    6
  10. steve says:

    Those numbers mean that Trump still has the majority of the GOP behind him, especially the ones who would vote in a primary. Most Republicans still think he won the election. So when he runs in 2024 he will be the leading candidate. Just like in 2016 none of the other candidates will go after him for fear of alienating his base, so he will win barring something truly major happening between now and then. The cult is so devoted to him hard to imagine what that would be.

    Steve

    4
  11. Kylopod says:

    @steve:

    Just like in 2016 none of the other candidates will go after him for fear of alienating his base

    That isn’t why they neglected to go after him. For much of the cycle they didn’t take him seriously enough to bother going after him. They thought he was a joke who would simply fade away. After he started winning primaries, they changed that strategy and most definitely did attack him.

    1
  12. de stijl says:

    I distinctly remember saying in 2015 that Trump would be nominated and y’all thought I was stupid. It was July or August and everyone was convinced it would be anyone but Trump. JEB! or Rubio or Cruz.

    I also predicted Trump would get stomped by Clinton in the general election and see how that turned out.

    1
  13. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Trump is gonna chucked down the memory hole worse than Dubya.

    And they call us Orwellian.

  14. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Don’t feel bad. I don’t think any of us expected that Trump would win. I didn’t even bother to watch the returns because I figured Clinton would walk away with it.

  15. Lounsbury says:

    While the Lefties here will not be pleased by anything less than Republicans mass conversion, in fact the polling here shows an opening for Trumpism repudiation by the old-school apparatus. Were there not this decline, there would be more worry. There is an opening for a short-term strategic alliance to put a knife into Trumpism and twist it. A short opening I am sure but an opening.

  16. Nate Silver still has Trump’s support at 38%. Maybe that will change, maybe his average will drop all the way down to, what, 35%? Maybe slightly lower than Trump’s previous lows?

    How many times are we going to have this whole, ‘I’ve got you now, my pretty!’ routine with Trump and polls? But OK, let’s assume the polls mean something. What do they mean? That the solid third of the country that are #Cult45 true believers remains untouched. Something like 1 in 3 Americans watched 1/6 and thought, ‘Yep, that’s what I like to see.’

    Here’s what I expect will happen with that 1 out of three. I expect he will go to his grave loving Trump and hating all who opposed Trump. Of that brainless hardcore a good half – call it one American in six – will believe terrorism is justified. A much smaller number will actually carry out terrorist attacks.

    Over time, that same 1 in 3 who are hardcore will not renounce, but they will drift and fade. Their enthusiasm, the noise generated from their speakers, will dial down from 11 to 9 to 7 and fade further with time as the world moves on by.

    The best comparison is Scientology. They used to number about 100,000 adherents and were growing. Now the consensus seems to be that they are much fewer, maybe 20,000 and not growing. It takes a long time for a cult member to de-program, and most don’t make it. Visit a nursing home in 30 years and there will still be people wheezing their last and blaming everything that’s gone wrong in their lives on damn liberals who stole the 2020 election.

    The good news I see in this poll is that we may be in for a fine Republican civil war. And the excellent effect of that is Trump cultists will hate non-cult Republicans even more than they hate liberals. Maybe they’ll take to shooting up Chamber of Commerce meetings instead of Black churches.

    Will the non-cult Republicans admit the obvious, that liberals were absolutely right about Trump? No, of course not. The fact that liberals are usually right has been obvious for decades, but even the ‘good’ conservatives, even the few who aren’t stupid by nature, will remain stupid by choice.

    2
  17. @Franklin:

    Elites, right.

    Yes. Media elites and political elites on the right-ward side of things have been telling their followers that the election was stolen. Had those same elites accepted the results and told the truth, we wouldn’t be in this position.

    5
  18. @de stijl:

    I distinctly remember saying in 2015 that Trump would be nominated and y’all thought I was stupid. It was July or August and everyone was convinced it would be anyone but Trump. JEB! or Rubio or Cruz.

    I was decidedly, and publicly, wrong about that. I did not think he could get the evangelical vote in the primaries. I was quite wrong about that.

    2
  19. @Michael Reynolds: I don’t think the Pew numbers had been integrated into the 538 index yet. Plus keep in mind: it is an aggregator that includes a host of polls, including Rasmussen.

    2
  20. @de stijl:

    Elites is a slippery term.

    AOC is an elite. Upjumped ex-bar server.

    Boebert is salt of the earth. Current bar owner.

    You are talking about the rhetorical deployment of the term. I am talking about what the term actually means.

    Boebert is, by definition, an elite and has been at least since she was nominated and clearly since she was elected. And she is the exact kind of elite telling her followers lies that help leads to things like the capitol insurrection. (And to belief that the election was stolen).

    1
  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Bootstrapping is a good thing when it happens for the likes of me. AOC isn’t even supposed to have boots at all.

    1
  22. @de stijl:

    Class often depends on the perceiver.

    “Elite” is a term about power, of which wealth and social class are only components.

    1
  23. @Michael Reynolds:

    How many times are we going to have this whole, ‘I’ve got you now, my pretty!’ routine with Trump and polls?

    Also, not my point.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Yeah, unfortunately the attacks generally seemed to gravitate toward “I’m cruder, more vulgar, and a bigger bigot than Trump is.”

  25. steve says:

    “I did not think he could get the evangelical vote in the primaries.”

    I grew up in an evangelical church and my family largely remains there so I was not surprised at all, but you do this for a living. Doesn’t history show that when politics and religion mix, politics wins? There are things about Trump which seem kind of unique, but this was not. If the evangelicals ever again have the choice between power vs going with someone of character or someone with true belief, they will choose power. Granted, if they can get both that would be their preference, but it is power first, always.

    Steve

    6
  26. Paine says:

    Curious how DJT’s final approval number compares to other outgoing president’s, I found this:

    https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/statistics/data/final-presidential-job-approval-ratings

    Though it shows Gallup results, not Pew. Couple of interesting points:

    The last two Democratic presidents left office with a good approval rating. In fact, Clinton’s 66% approval is the highest on the chart.

    Assuming Trump holds where he is at then the last two Republican presidents are leaving with terrible numbers (29% and 34% for Bush; is it a coincidence that both came into office after losing the popular vote?). You have to go back to Reagan to find a GOP president who departed with widespread approval (Bush 1’s numbers weren’t that bad but he lost his re-election bid which seems like the ultimate disapproval rating).

  27. CSK says:

    I recall that back in 2017 when Trump had a 36% approval rating he tweeted: “Almost 40%, which is not bad!”

    Yeah, it was bad. And it wasn’t “almost 40%.”

    2
  28. @steve:

    I grew up in an evangelical church and my family largely remains there

    Same.

    I was not, at all, surprised they voted for him in the general election.

    Retrospectively I think he appeals very much to the sense of relative loss of power that many evangelicals feel. Still, it was pretty amazing to me that in a field of a dozen+ candidates in the early stages that they went, en masse, for the casino-owning, porn-star sleeping, thrice-married vulgarian.

    2
  29. @steve: And I agree about power over all. I just didn’t think that they would see DJT as their route to power in as early as Iowa and NH.

  30. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Half of them seem to have decided that they’d accept his flaws because he was on their side.

    The other half seem to have refashioned Trump into a devout Christian, faithful husband, and devoted father as well as the Greatest President Since George Washington. Stormy Daniels? Well, she was a liar and a whore and a tool of the Deep State.

    1
  31. charon says:

    @CSK:

    I think the leaders like Franklin Graham/Tony Perkins/Paula White etc. support Trump because they are really grifters and game knows game, or maybe I’m just too cynical about Republicans.

    5
  32. Owen says:

    @Paine: I can’t find references to it now, but I recall reading an article in the 1990s at how upset many neocons were that Reagan left office with positive numbers. They were of the impression that if a Republican President left office with positive polling it meant they had wasted the opportunity to get enough of the Republican platform enacted. I don’t think they were anticipating Donnie.

    1
  33. CSK says:

    @charon:
    Indeed. But I was speaking of the rank and file.

  34. BTW: I should have entitled this post “wearing out” instead of “wears out” as using the past tense likely came across as more definitive than intended.

    1
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    New WSJ/NBC poll has Trump at 43% approval. New CNN says 34%. Taking just those two most recent polls, the average is 38.5% which is Trump’s eternal polling floor, and right where Nate has it. IOW, no, Trump has neither worn out, nor is he wearing out, his approval.

    Whether 43 or 34 is closer to the truth, I don’t know. But if we ran the election over today I’d guess Biden would pick up maybe 2%. And the EC would still be too close for comfort.

    Yet I’m seeing Democrats already going limp on prosecution. A huge mistake.

    2
  36. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I did not think he could get the evangelical vote in the primaries. I was quite wrong about that.

    Yes, but it was a perfectly understandable mistake to think that evangelicals were Christians.

    1
  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    Just to be even more negative, I note that Trump’s Nate Silver number right now is two points higher than his low point in December, 2017. That’s how fucked up Republicans are. That’s why I reject the kumbaya approach, the whole let’s reach out, let’s see what the assholes want to convince them to support the constitution.

    Every person Trump appointed, every one that did his bidding, deserves to be removed. Yeah, I know we can’t do that. But I want to start from a firm moral ground. These are traitors to democracy. There are about as many ‘decent Republicans’ as there are honest used car dealers, so stop that, once and for all. If you are still a Republican today you are a traitor to democracy.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I think another factor that may have played into the mix on Trump is that there is a deep and abiding distaste for politicians, at least among the fundy/evangelicals I grew up around. Trump’s status as the only non-politician in the pack probably enhanced his desirability against the others, even quasi/pseudo evangelical Ted Cruz.

    I saw this phenomenon among some local candidates in this year’s voter pamphlet in my district. Quite a few people chose to run as “Christian values/not a professional politician” even though it also spelled “devoid of any observable qualifications to hold the office in question.” I guess you have to run with whatever you can cobble together as a pitch.

  39. @Michael Reynolds: If he ends up in the 30s, especially the lower 30s, then he has indeed worn out a lot of his welcome.

    He is never going to be at zero. The issue is long-term influence.

  40. The real issue is whether his recent behavior could lead to an erosion of support of any significance, and the answer would appear to be yes.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @charon: Game recognizes game certainly is a factor, but I think they also really believed that Trump would be more amenable to endorsing the sort of theocracy that they imagine they want to construct than more conventional politicians. “Not a politician” is a more desirable quality for that cohort. They can’t trust Cruz to do “the Lord’s work” even though he’s more willing to claim status as “child of the King.”

    And it is currently impossible to be too cynical about Republicans/conservatives.

    1
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The real issue is whether his recent behavior could lead to an erosion of support of any significance, and the answer would appear to be yes.

    In addition to CNN’s 34% and NBC’s 43% we also have USA Today’s 41%. In fact Trump is not even at his lowest point. Nate Silver says 38.7% He’s right where he’s bounced along for most of four years. I do not believe we are seeing significant erosion in support.

  43. @Michael Reynolds: I think you are ascribing to me an argument that I am not making (I will admit that my post does not contain a lot of analysis, which invites readers to fill in the blanks, and I did pick the wrong verb tense in the headline). I feel like you are arguing that I said his support has collapsed, which was never my point.

    If you want to go with 538, I would still assert that it is significant that after Trump’s very bad behavior last that the trend of support took a dive. The whole point of this kind of polling is to see the degree to which public opinion reacts to actions in the broader society. Given how little the approval numbers have moved over any number of actions by Trump, it is of note that it has taken a real dive since last week.

    In addition to CNN’s 34% and NBC’s 43% we also have USA Today’s 41%. In fact Trump is not even at his lowest point.

    All of which are lower, in some cases quite a bit low, than the 46.9% that vote for him two months ago. It is a measurable reaction to his behavior.

    Keep in mind the floor isn’t zero, as much as we might like it to be. The floor is likely somewhere in the 20s.

    Hence, to have a major source (Pew is a major source) to find 29% approval is significant.