Trump’s Approval Numbers not Very Approving
Via CNN: CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition
Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40%, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president.
Following a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump’s handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors. Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, 67% approved of Clinton’s transition as of late December 1992 and 61% approved of George W. Bush’s transition just before he took office in January 2001.
Trump’s wobbly handling of the presidential transition has left most Americans with growing doubts that the President-elect will be able to handle the job. About 53% say Trump’s statements and actions since Election Day have made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency, and the public is split evenly on whether Trump will be a good or poor president (48% on each side).
I think numbers such as this have to be taken into account when assessing exactly what the Trump victory may or may not mean about the state of the US population. These numbers show polarization (he is not getting the benefit of the doubt from a chunk of opposition voters that most incoming president, even Bush in 2001, received). They also show that some of his own co-partisans are not on board.
For those of us who criticize the electoral college, this is further evidence of the deep flaws exposed in that institution exposed by the 2016 election. It has produced an incoming president who does not even command 50% approval the week he is to be sworn in. Given that he hasn’t done any actual governing yet, he should be at the height of his popularity, since he technically hasn’t had the chance to do anything to start losing the goodwill of the public as yet.
I think, too, it may be that some persons who incorrectly believed Trump would start acting more presidential once elected are learning how wrong they were to harbor such false hopes.
Can you have a failed presidency before you even take office?
It’s fascinating to see how quickly buyer’s remorse has set in. He’s getting nothing from Democrats, nothing from Independents, and even Republicans aren’t so sure. Given the extreme polarization his inability to generate confidence even among his own voters is astonishing.
Good. It’s very sad but in this case I think the patriotic position is to hope that Trump remains weak. Never thought I could feel that way about any president, but then I never thought 46% of the country was stupid enough to elect an orangutan.
ABC’s Matt Dowd (who was chief strategist for Dubya) Tweet:
These numbers are clearly rigged.
Trump is poised to begin the most awesomest Presidency ever.
Just ask him.
@michael reynolds: I still remember Dave Barry’s column in Feb 1993 which started “One month into the failed Clinton Administration…..”
Trump already tweeted that, comparing it to the pre-election polls, which … uh … accurately pegged that he would lose the popular vote.
“Yes Michael, but really, who cares besides Democrats? We control the Senate, the House, and soon enough, the Supreme Court. We’re going to do as we please no matter how Trump is perceived. Besides, do you really want a President Mike Pence? I didn’t think so.”
The corollary to this is that he enters office with unusually low expectations, and I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re seeing columns saying things like “So he didn’t bring in the gulags or start a nuclear war after all. Greatestest president ever!”
Republicans are racing to accomplish long-held goals (repealing ACA) during the honeymoon period, mostly because they know that after the honeymoon period, Trump is going to be very hard to work with.
I don’t expect (most) Republicans to turn into Putin-loving autocrats. Some of my right-leaning Facebook friends have been posting pro-Putin, pro-Russia stuff, and it’s been heartening to see how quickly and forcefully they’ve been challenged by their fellow partisans.
That depends. Is President Mike Pence going to start a trade war with China or help Putin sabotage the EU and NATO?
You’re joking, but you’re probably right – the claims that he’s going to be Hitler 2.0 are going to work in his favor. He’s almost certainly going to be a terrible President, but the chances are he’s not going to be as bad as the worst doom sayers are predicting (not only do the mechanisms of government not allow it, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the focus and discipline that Hitler had, and probably not the intelligence either) – and many are going to look at the results, see they’re not as bad as predicted, and from there go on to “well, he’s not so bad after all”, even if he turns out to be (as likely) the worst President in American history.
@al-Alameda: I have to admit that Pence is looking better as the transition stumbles on. Pence would be fatal for the economy, the environment, and reproductive rights. But he’s probably not bending over for Putin. And being severely over-churched is less severe than the bag of personality and cognitive disorders Trump brings to the table. Pence can, at least, construct an English declarative sentence, even if the content is stupid.
Was there a followup question asked for this one, asking just what they expected from him? The corruption, incompetence and bluster which he has displayed throughout the transition period did not come from out of the blue the morning of November 9th. How on earth could people be surprised?!?!?!?
Are you confident Kushner and Ivanka don’t have the focus and intelligence?
The electorate being the box of rocks they are, I seriously doubt the average poll respondent actually has a clue what’s going on with the transition. How many do you think could correctly answer, “What post is Rex Tillerson nominated for?” The low approval is, IIRC, not much lower than in late Oct, and is driven more by the Russian reveals than anything in the transition.
If he screws up big time and there are a series of scandals (both probable), his approval will stay down. Otherwise the supposedly liberal MSM will normalize him and the Mighty Right Wing Wurlitzer will boost him.
How long will it take for the mechanism to stop working with Trump & his hangers-on throwing sand in the gears? No, he’s not going to be Hitler 2.0, but he might be Nero 2.0.
He is advanced. He is such a great President that he has finished his honeymoon period before even taking office.
@gVOR08: I agree, to a point. With a Pence Presidency we would still want all of the questions of Russian involvement with the campaign answered, and the question of what did Pence know and when did he know it would hang over him.
He wouldn’t be a good President. He would even be a bad President. But, he would probably be an American President.
Someone had the great idea that Obama should resign on his next to last day, which would make Biden President for a day.
Brilliant. Best thing that could come from this past election.
I wish it would happen.
@C. Clavin: it would also mess up all of Trump’s new stationary, and the commemorative tickets.
@gVOR08: Even allowing that apples don’t fall far from trees, this assertion seems a stretch. What evidence is there that Ivanka is some sort of megalomaniac like her father? As for Kushner, according to HL92 he’s hampered with the same intellectual shortcomings as Trump without the drive to bull past them. He’s there for the graft and because Ivanka either wants to live near her dad or needs to–and I don’t want to entertain any thoughts about what that would be about.
Great, so we are at risk of having a stupid, unfocused, and undisciplined Hitler.
Pence would be a terrible President, but infinitely preferable to Trump. It is anathema on the inter-tubes to compare anyone to Hitler, but Trump is very comparable to Hitler as Chancellor in January of 1933. Remember, Hitler was legally installed, but then immediately started making appointments and assuming governmental powers that destroyed the ability of the government to oppose him. When people talk about the US “System” blocking Trump’s worst excesses, there are two things that are already apparent: 1) The “system” is led by department heads that will be appointed by Trump and Trumps lackeys, or in the case of people like Tillerson, chosen by enemies of the US. Trump will have the ability to overthrow any bureaucratic opposition, or at least throwing those agencies into such confusion they won’t be able to stop him when he acts extra-legally. 2) The Republican Party controls the entire Congress (and will very quickly control the Supreme Court) and they have shown they are completely incapable of serving as the firewall against Trump. Remember, the President controls the entire executive branch, and the only thing that prevents him from ignoring Congress is the threat of impeachment. The Republicans are incapable of that and the Democrats can’t do it alone.
I know that this sounds over the top, and I hope to God I am proven wrong. But since grade school when I first learned about what the Nazis did I have asked myself, “Why couldn’t rational, decent people recognize what was happening and stop it?” One conclusion is that most people don’t have the ability to recognize when something is different as a matter of kind rather than as a matter of degree. The US has never given such power to someone like Trump before and it is already obvious that too much hope is being put into the idea that our institutions will be able to operate normally. They will not.
Here’s what would disprove this scenario: If Trump’s Attorney General’s officials chases down corruption in the Trump administration. If Congress investigates such corruption. If senior Trump Administration officials are removed from office. If Congress investigates Trumps ties to Russia. If Trump is unable to fire or sideline the career people in State, Finance, Legal and Intelligence and they are able to block his excesses. If Trump doesn’t start a war in order to divert attention from what he is doing, a war that may very well be a nuclear one.
Here’s the early warning signs that this is what is coming to pass: Trump appoints the worst and most corrupt officials in all positions in government (check). The Republican Congress holds no meaningful investigations (this seems apparent already). If the Trump appointees are able to sideline, fire or destroy career officials to keep them from blocking him. If he assumes powers and acts on them before or even after courts rule that he has overstepped, or more generally, if he ignores laws or judicial rulings, claiming that they don’t apply to him as president. And worst of all, if he starts a war, or launches a nuclear attack in order to create a sense of crisis and assume war powers.
@george: I wasn’t joking really, just engaging in a little hyperbole for rhetorical effect (something I have a habit of doing).
The absurd lowering of expectations is something that goes back at least to W. and was used with Sarah Palin when she ran for vp, before being applied to Trump.
When it comes to Trump, the working theory I’ve had for a while now (and I’ve expressed it here repeatedly) is that it’s all about timing. He was probably always going to outperform the polls, but if the election had been held a week after the release of the Access Hollywood tape or his fight with the Khans, he’d probably have lost. On the other hand, I bet he’d have won if it had been that period right before the debates after the pneumonia incident. The basic pattern I saw all year was that the polls would swing toward Hillary whenever he was the target of negative coverage and away from her whenever she was. The conventional notion that he was somehow immune to negative media attention or even benefited from it was never quite right. The evidence suggests he’s damaged by this stuff–but it’s always temporary damage, like in a children’s cartoon.
Also, I truly don’t think the media is prepared to deal with his level of brazen dishonesty. All politicians lie, but Trump has pioneered something I call a “sky is red” lie, where he states something plainly and squarely false–no lawyerly semantic games, no rhetorical tricks–and says it with utter confidence. Like the time he denied reports that Trump Steaks were defunct by holding up a steak bearing the label of a different company, or when he claimed to have scored one of the largest electoral victories in history, or his recent statements about how he’s going to replace Obamacare with a plan that leaves no one without coverage. It is in fact totally plausible that tomorrow he’ll claim with a straight face never to have committed adultery or suffered bankruptcy. It wouldn’t be one whit less ridiculous than things he has already said.
Indeed, that Hillary lie everyone always talks about–her claiming to have been under sniper fire in Bosnia–is an excellent example of the difference between Trump dishonesty and more standard lies coming from politicians. After she was caught lying about this claim, she apologized and never brought it up again. If Trump had been caught falsely making such a claim about himself, he’d have doubled down and insisted it was absolutely true and continued to mention it at every opportunity, and all his surrogates on Fox and CNN and everywhere else would be defending it.
There simply is no precedent for this, and it’s a real open question how the media will react. No matter what he does while in office, what policies he tries to implement, he and all his surrogates will be out there on TV and Twitter loudly and confidently proclaiming to be doing something entirely different and boasting about how awesomely successful he has been and how he has utterly crushed all the naysayers.
I’m not saying this will necessarily work. But there’s no longer any question that he has benefited from being underestimated, and when I hear all this cluck-clucking about how he’s inevitably going to screw up (politically, I mean; he’s virtually certain to be a disaster substantively), I fear I’m hearing the same sort of complacency that helped get him to this point in the first place.
Trump is so unpopular that he is having to advertise for people to attend his inaugural.
I hate Pence’s positions, and he appears to pathological in his hatred of gays, but I’ll still take him over Trump. I think four years of Trump and most of our allies will defect to a less threatening superpower, namely China. They already appear more stable than a Trump-led US.
I work for the ACLU of Indiana. We have been the most effective (and often only) opposition to Pence in this state. I know intimately well what a Pence presidency would mean for this nation’s LGBTQ people, immigrants, women, and the economy.
He is vastly more preferable than Trump for POTUS.
And on a more positive note, it seems that the
neo-Naziswhite nationalists have the same fears about Trump as the rest of us.
@Kylopod: Here’s an interesting set of predictions from someone in a position to know.
A message to my doomed colleagues in the American media
Heh, I see nowhere here is it reported that R’s were seriously underrepresented in the poll. Imagine that. Next thing you know you guys will be telling me the polls say Hillary Clinton is going to win.
You remember Hillary. She got bitch slapped by Trump in the election.
With his small hands? Highly doubtful…a difference of around 70,000 votes in 3 states, out of over 120 million cast is hardly “bitch slapped”…but I’m sure it turns you on to mention Hillary and bitch in the same sentence…
This is such a tired “argument” when someone doesn’t like a poll result.
And you seem to forget, that Trump lost the popular vote (and this is another measure of popularity). He won 46.10% of the popular vote. It is not shocking, nor outside the realm of possibility, that his approval rating is in the 40s given that we already knew he wasn’t especially popular to begin with.
@Guarneri: I think I know what the problem is. They only poll adults and most of Trump’s supporters are juveniles.
We would, wouldn’t we. Can’t make a world class luxury car, can’t make a decent Hitler.
The RCP average of national polls was only 1.1% off from the final results. That is not exactly a ginormous error. In contrast, in 2012 Obama outperformed his final RCP average by 3.2%, at a time when many on the right were making precisely the same argument you’re making now, that the polls undersampled Republicans.
Nobody claims polls are perfect. Occasionally they have called an election wrong; however, this has happened to Democrats just as often as as it has to Republicans. (For example, one of the biggest upsets of recent years was Harry Reid’s surprise victory over Sharron Angle in 2010, where he had been trailing in every single poll and went on to win by a comfortable margin.) Moreover, these errors rarely exceed more than a few percentage points. In close elections that can matter. But there’s a word for people who treat that fact as proof that all polls are meaningless propaganda and that a politician’s true ratings must be 10, 20, 30 or more points above what is being shown. That word is: idiot.
Yesterday I saw an even more apt analogy. Trump isn’t Hitler, or Mussolini, he’s Warren G. Harding 2.0.
I agree, but its important to note he not only beat Clinton, he also beat all the other GOP candidates. In fact, its if anything more surprising, and says more about the mood of many of the voters this election, that he won the GOP nomination than that he won the Presidency. Basically, the conservatives were fairly confident they were going to win the presidency a year ago, if only because its unusual for a party to win three consecutive presidencies.
And then Trump came, and they thought he was a joke candidate. Who kept winning. How did he win the GOP nomination? It wasn’t racism or sexism or homophobia, all of their candidates have been regularly criticized for that, especially the big names like Cruz or Rubio. If you want to turn the clock back to the imaginary 1950’s, you pick someone you think has a chance of winning; no one on either side gave Trump much of a chance. Which is why so much of the GOP was downright angry (remember “Never Trump” when Trump won – they thought they’d thrown away an election they had a good chance of winning.
He won because of the 10% of voters in play (90% of voters always vote for their party, they’re never in play), enough of them are pissed off that they wanted a nut case to send a message. Trump never got the majority of GOP votes or electoral votes. It didn’t matter, he got enough FU votes (FU to both GOP and Dems) to put him over in a few key states (helped by some very bad campaigning by both his GOP rivals in their primaries, and then Clinton in the federal election). And driving a lot of that was low expectations – he never sounded quite as bad as his critics made him out. He was compared (sometimes unfavorably) with Hitler (by both GOP and Dems interestingly enough during the respective races) and the like. People saw he was probably a terrible choice, but since they didn’t think he was Hitler 2.0, they started discounting every other criticism … after all, if they’re going to call him Hitler they’re obviously so biased you can’t take him seriously.
I’m simply afraid the same thing is going to happen when he’s in office. He’ll be a disaster, but he’s not going to make concentration champs and start gassing people, so he’ll get a pass by many because he won’t meet the worst case scenarios being painted.
And I don’t think it matters how the media is going to react. Just about every main stream media backed Clinton. People aren’t getting their news from that, on the left or the right. Trump actually figured this out before any of the other major candidates. Its why he keeps Twittering – it removes the media processing of his message.
Better than a smart, focused one. And again, he’s really not Hitler. He’s going to be a disaster, but he’s not going to make concentration camps, and though he’s likely to blunder us into a war, he’s not making plans to take over the world. The exaggerations don’t help – and really aren’t needed. His own qualities are bad enough on their own, he doesn’t need to be compared to Hitler or Stalin or Mao or .
If our mechanisms of gov’t are so flimsy that one person can overthrow them, then I’d rather it be done by a clown like Trump whose only agenda is profit and satisfying his ego, than a focused, intelligent and disciplined person bent on imposing their ideology on a whole country. If its ready to fall, I’d rather it fall to Trump than say to Cruz.
But I don’t think its that flimsy. He’ll be backed by the GOP until they think its no longer to their benefit to back him. They’re just as divided as the Democratic Party is (its funny that everyone thinks their opposition is united, a kind of paranoia I suppose), and there aren’t more than a handful of high level politicians in the world who didn’t get there by back stabbing party members when convenient. He has few (if any) loyal followers in the Senate or Congress. America isn’t the Weimar Republic. And its far too divided to be united by one figure, which is what Trump would need to do to take over. In fact, its polarization makes it harder for a dictator to come into play (though easier for a civil war, which is a more likely disaster scenario).
There’s a pretty blatant difference of degree here. None of the other GOP candidates began their campaign calling Mexicans rapists. None of the other GOP candidates had ever embraced birtherism, let alone made it the centerpiece of their entry into politics. And while he was hardly the only candidate spreading anti-Muslim hysteria, he allowed it to define his campaign in a way none of the other candidates did.
There has long been a significant chunk of GOP voters who are driven by white racial resentment. Since the 1970s the trick for seasoned pols was to make nods to such voters without embracing them openly–Reagan’s state rights talk at the site of the infamous Klan attack in Mississippi, Bush Sr.’s Willie Horton ads, W.’s stop at Bob Jones U., and so on. All Trump did was remove the mask.
Sure. But FU and racism aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact there’s a significant overlap. The so-called “alt right” is heavily a movement devoted to the principle of FU. Much of the attack on political correctness which Trump tapped into is essentially a reaction against the progressive reforms of the past 50 years, framed as a crusade against the stifling taboos of a joyless, oppressive elite. There is in fact some validity to these attacks, particularly when it comes to college campuses in America. But it has devolved into an excuse for clinging to reactionary attitudes about race, gender, religion, and so on. “I’m not PC” has become the rallying cry of people who engage in the most boorish of behaviors, as Trump’s conduct has made absolutely clear.
That’s one of the chief problems with Hitler comparisons. He’s treated essentially as the ultimate cartoon supervillain whom people invoke for anything they feel the need to cast a sense of absolute moral illegitimacy on, from abortion to seat belt laws. This tendency has led many people to the opposite extreme of dismissing any comparisons between the Nazis and anything happening today. It’s too bad, because there are important lessons to be learned from the rise of the Third Reich, and it shouldn’t require that the situation be as bad as it was in the 1930s. When you have a political leader who expresses open admiration for despots around the world, engages in explicit racial demagoguery, advocates open persecution of certain ethnicities, has ties to actual white nationalists, and has managed to acquire power in a democratic country in part by the foolish acquiescence of both the center right and the far left while being dismissed by others as a laughable buffoon who couldn’t be taken seriously–to ignore the parallels here is just as myopic as invoking Hitler in vain.
Pointing this out isn’t tantamount to implying we’ll be seeing gas chambers anytime soon, but I realize that’s how a lot of people take it, because there’s this idea that you can’t learn anything from Hitler unless someone’s literally committing genocide. The rise of Hitler revealed a lot of things about how a cult of personality can be used to undermine democracy, how propaganda is spread, how scapegoating minorities can be effective–things that have all happened under much less dire circumstances but which the Nazi example provides a vivid illustration of. Still, I have generally avoided these comparisons simply because I’m aware how prone they are to being misinterpreted. And frankly, there are just so many terrible possibilities lying on the spectrum between “installing oneself as dictator, plotting world domination and committing genocide against the local populace” and “being a lousy president but not in an unprecedented way.”
Moreover, my major point (and I may not have been totally clear about it) is that the process of lowered expectations is one of Trump’s most powerful propaganda tools, because it assists his efforts to mislead the public about what he’s actually doing while in office.
But Trump received his worst polling numbers while the mainstream media was savaging him, and did his best when it turned its sights on Clinton (which happened to be during the final week of the campaign).
Despite people’s attempts to deny it, the MSM had a substantial impact on public opinion in 2016. Trump became incredibly unpopular in large part due to the MSM’s coverage of him, and the same is true of Clinton. And the wild swings in the polls was very largely correlated with who was receiving most of the negative coverage at the moment.
Actually she won the election by 3 million votes.
Trump won a very, very slim margin in the electoral college.
If your opinion is based on BS…then your opinion is BS.
No, Trump is not Hitler. He’ll probably, as you say, just be a rolling disaster, but supported by the CEC.
But, we can’t be sure. It will be prudent to do what we can to ensure he doesn’t become not Hitler, but Putin. Putin has imprisoned people, he’s almost certainly killed people. But he doesn’t have concentration camps, and doesn’t want to take over the world, only the old Soviet Union. I suspect Putin has someone whispering in Trumps ear that Putin is way richer than Trump, but that Trump can do what Putin did. (He probably can’t, because we won’t be selling huge state properties to gangsters, but they won’t mention that to Trump.)
We’ll know for sure if
the Reichstag catches fire or an apartment building in Buynansk is bombedthere’s a large terrorist attack and Trump responds by seeking autocratic powers.
I hesitate to refer to Trump as a Nazi, or Hitler, or a Fascist…authoritarian, yes…depostic, yes, …idiotic, yes…but now he is talking about having the military parade for us.
Sound familiar??? What could be wrong with that???
Sadly, there’s another Calvin Coolidge waiting in the wings when this latest disaster implodes…