Trump’s Approval Ratings and the Mueller Report

The President has tied his all-time low in one prominent poll.

President Donald Trump is at a whopping minus 18 net approval rating in the new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted after the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report.

President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped 5 points, equaling his presidency’s low-water mark, since last week’s release of the special counsel report into the 2016 election, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

Despite his sinking poll numbers, however, there is little support for removing Trump through the impeachment process, the poll shows.

Only 39 percent of voters surveyed in the new poll, which was conducted Friday through Sunday, approve of the job Trump is doing as president. That is down from 44 percent last week and ties Trump’s lowest-ever approval rating in POLITICO/Morning Consult polling — a 39 percent rating in mid-August 2017, in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Nearly 6 in 10 voters, 57 percent, disapprove of the job Trump is doing.

But while views of Trump have tumbled since the publication of Robert Muller’s redacted report, so has support for impeaching him. Only 34 percent of voters believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings to remove the president from office, down from 39 percent in January. Nearly half, 48 percent, say Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings.


“President Trump’s approval rating has dipped to its lowest point of his term in the immediate aftermath of the redacted Mueller report release,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “This week, 57 percent of voters disapprove, and 39 percent approve of the president’s performance — a net approval rating of -18 percentage points, compared with 55 percent who disapproved and 42 percent who approved — a net approval rating of -13 percentage points — one month ago in the aftermath of Attorney General [William] Barr’s summary of the Mueller report to Congress.”

While the report is damaging to Trump in the short term — other post-report polls also show decreases in Trump’s approval rating — it could also paint Democrats into a corner on impeachment. Mueller seemingly kicks the obstruction of justice case on Trump to Congress, and the Democratic-led House is squeezed between a majority of Democratic voters who want impeachment, 59 percent, and slightly more than a third of the electorate that agrees.

POLITICO, “Poll: Trump approval sinks 5 points after Mueller report, tying all-time low”

It wouldn’t at all surprise me if there were a small drop in Trump’s approval ratings in the aftermath of the report. But we really don’t have much evidence to go on. Five points in one poll (albeit a large sample, with a margin of error of only 2%) isn’t a trend. And we don’t have many post-report polls.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest polls factored into the RealClearPolitics average:

For one thing, we see that the poll in question, POLITICO/Morning Consult, has fluctuated considerably over the last three weeks, showing unfavorables of 56 (4/5-4/7), 51 (4/12-4/14), and 57 (4/17-4/21). That Trump is back essentially where he was two weeks ago isn’t exactly strong evidence that the Mueller report has been devastating.

The report was released on the 18th. That means Rasmussen is the only other poll in the RCP average taken in its aftermath. Granting Rasmussen’s historical Republican lean, we see this trend from their daily sampling:

There’s definitely been a blip in the negative direction in the three samples post-Mueller. But look how wildly the index fluctuates. The net minus 8 is back to where we were a month ago and not as bad as the net minus 10 from March 19.

Looking at the RealClearPolitics data over a longer term we see the same trends:

The bottom line is that Trump is quite unpopular and has been for his whole Presidency. While people were apparently giving him the benefit of the doubt at inauguration, he was already at substantial net negatives two years ago. And he’s less unpopular—both in terms of the disapproval number itself and the net—now than he was around the time of the 2018 midterm elections.

At the risk of committing the pundit’s fallacy here, I’m skeptical that news like the Mueller report has much lasting impact because Trump’s awfulness is simply baked in at this point. The fears of “normalizing” his bad behavior have borne out: it’s just hard for him to shock people at this juncture.

In the run-up to the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, then-candidate Trump proclaimed, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”  I’m not even sure that’s hyperbole at this point. The good news at that he seems to have a ceiling around 40 percent.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Teve says:

    Oliver Darcy

    Trump has tweeted or retweeted more than 50 times in the last 24 hours.

    7:33 AM · Apr 23, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

    Replying to

    He. Is. Not. Well..

    Replying to
    It’s because of how exonerated he is.

    Replying to

    He’s definitely not angry. I can tell by the tweets. Cool as a cucumber.

  2. Teve says:

    · 46m

    The Wall is being rapidly built! The Economy is GREAT! Our Country is Respected again!

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I like to take solace in the fact that Dennison has never been above 46%. But in reality that only means that 36-46% of the American electorate is just dumb as fuq.

  4. CSK says:

    @Teve: Followed immediately by: “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

  5. Kathy says:

    This shows his misdeeds have some impact. When results of the House investigations are made known, we’ll see what happens.

    Also, borrowing from physics, we know how Dennison’s popularity moves in an expanding economy. We don’t as yet know what happens in a recession.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    What the last week does show us us is that if he did stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, Barr and DOJ would do nothing.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: @Teve: @CSK: This sort of thing is what the Open Forum is for.

  8. Teve says:


  9. Teve says:

    The bottom line is that Trump is quite unpopular and has been for his whole Presidency.

    Krugman’s newest column talks about the fact that he’s apparently more popular than ever with the GOP money men, though.

  10. CSK says:

    @Kathy: The hardcore Trumpkins will stick with him. A few months ago, someone tweeted a clip of a reporter asking 3 Trump fans if there was anything Trump could say or do that would turn them off. They replied: Nothing.

  11. Kathy says:


    A recession may uncover the hardcore deplorables from the rest. The question is when will there be a recession.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Looking at our in-house Trumpers I would say that most of them fall into the “Nothing” category. Coincidentally they’ve all been banned for egregious behavior and inability to contribute anything meaningful. But there are a couple of people who remain who aren’t exactly pro-Trump but rather anti-liberal. These people are probably as in the bag for ol’ Donnie as the rabid true-believers, because the overriding motivation is to poke the libtards. These are the people who I describe as shooting holes in the bottom of the lifeboat because they can’t stand seeing the other guy dry.

  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the 35-45% delta of approve-disapprove are made up of citizens who vacillate are low news consumers, whose opinions reflect on what the headlines that they can’t avoid are saying. If the reporting on Tiny is neutral, then they will express approval, if Tiny is being Tiny, they disapprove. They’ll likely make their 2020 decisions the same way.

  14. CSK says:

    @Kathy: The recession might not occur till the middle of Trump’s second term–if he gets one.

    @MarkedMan: I think the hardcore Trumpkins are the ones who are most motivated by the desire to “own the libtards,” because in doing that, Trump is, they believe, standing up for them against their elitist overlords. The man’s a churl, and that makes him a real American as opposed to Europeanized commies such as the Democratic leadership.

  15. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: The Republicans have used short-term tricks to goose the economy, to the detriment of everything long term (especially the environment but also the debt, inequality, etc.). While the Administration can keep directing agencies to keep chopping up regulations, the Republicans can’t do much more damage than that with the Dems in charge of the House.

    That said, I no longer think the economy is going to start tanking before the election. Just basing this on the general feeling I get from financial-planning types. So I expect Trump’s approval ratings to rebound because honestly, most people weigh the economy (and specifically their own job situation) heavily.

  16. Kathy says:


    That’s a real problem, as it would help in the election. But it’s also important he go down in history as the criminal bumbling fool he is.

    You will find to this day people who love Nixon, but he’s not popular even with Republicans. Trump should be remembered that way.

  17. SenyorDave says:

    I am convinced that the economy will be in good shape until some time in 2021, after the election. The old rules are gone, the Republicans no longer pretend to care about the deficit/debt. We have a trillion dollar deficit with a strong economy and full employment. The tax cut was a stimulus package during strong economic times and it certainly had short term benefits. The market is just under its all time high, although it appears very speculative at this point (P/E ratios are also at an all time hime). But Trump will do anything short term to juice up the economy, and if you don’t care in the least about being fiscally responsible there really are a lot of tools available. Assuming the economy is strong during the election, IMO whoever runs against Trump has to run a large part of the campaign on character. Everyday the American people have to be reminded that Trump lies all the time. Remind people that he ran a phony charity that he stole from – I want an ad saying “what type of person steals from a charity”. His character has to be a major issue, because the economy is far and away the issue people will care about most. Of course, if any of the SDNY investigations pan it things could change in a big way, but as long as Barr is AG I’m not getting my hopes up.

  18. Gustopher says:


    The market is just under its all time high, although it appears very speculative at this point (P/E ratios are also at an all time hime).

    For stocks that don’t give a dividend, all they are is speculative. There is no intrinsic value in AMZN stock, despite other people being willing to pay you close to $2000 per share. Shares of stock are essentially corporate trading cards.

    Here’s my favorite bit of irrationality: some time ago, Google split their stock unevenly. For each old share, you now got two new shares — but one was non-voting. The price of these two bob around semi-independently, connected by the underlying logic of both being essentially the same thing, but one having the extra value of actually being voting stock. Sometimes the price of the non-voting stock is higher — as if you pay a premium to not be bothered with the concept of a meaningless minority share vote. The changing price difference between these two stocks is all just mechanical trading systems reacting to each other, and affecting the market.

  19. SenyorDave says:

    @Gustopher: I disagree that there is no intrinsic value to Amazon stock, even if it a fraction of the its almost $1 trillion dollar capitalization. Amazon has infrastructure assets (billions of dollars in equipment and IP assets). there are plenty of brick and mortar companies that don’t pay dividends that have physical assets). That being said, a lot of tech companies have virtually no tangible assets. That can be a problem when things go south. My brother used to work for Nortel when it was the third highest “valued” company on the stock exchange, with capitalization over $200 billion. It only took a few years for Nortel’s stock to decrease by more than 99%, and it was worth less than $1 billion.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SenyorDave: I’ll go so far as to say that unless the economy tanks, there’s no particular reason to expect Trump to lose unless 2016 was an anomaly of monumental proportions–which is certainly possible given the narrowness of the popular vote margin. The 3 states the made up the 100,000 or so vote swing that elected Trump certainly could swing the other direction; I’m just not inclined to believe that they will in a good economy. Inertia is more powerful than we give credit for.

  21. DrDaveT says:

    It’s depressing to note how quickly America forgot how angry they were about the shutdown and furloughs.