Trump’s Job Approval Numbers Are Historically Bad And Only Likely To Get Worse
Donald Trump is the most unpopular incoming President in more than eighty years.
Today marks Donald Trump’s 160th day in office, and a new poll from NPR/PBS and Marist College shows that his job approval numbers continue to be abysmal:
President Trump’s support among independent voters has eroded since he took office. Though he still clings to a loyal base of supporters, his overall disapproval among Americans has reached record highs, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Just 37 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing just over five months into his tenure, while 51 percent disapprove. Forty percent of those polled strongly disapprove of Trump’s performance, twice the 20 percent who strongly approved.
The most pronounced swing seen in the poll was among independents. Over the past four months, their approval of the president has dissipated. In February, 40 percent of independents said they approved of the job Trump was doing, with 51 percent disapproving. Four months later in June, just 31 percent say they approve of the president with 59 percent of independents disapproving — a 17-point net-negative drop.
Despite almost full employment nationwide, independents are particularly dissatisfied with Trump on the economy. That’s likely driving much of their overall disapproval. Just 31 percent of independents say they have confidence in Trump’s ability to improve the U.S. economy, while 49 percent doubt he can do so. Just three months ago, 44 percent thought Trump could turn around the economy, while 38 percent didn’t — a whiplash-worthy 24-point swing.
Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said the scope of the shift over the past few months among independents should cause “alarm bells to go off” at the White House.
“Independents were certainly willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt when he entered office,” Miringoff said, “but on issues like the direction of the country and the economy, they’ve really soured on him. It’s hard for someone like him to make a second impression. Independents have come to the conclusion that what you see is what you get.”
The good news for Trump is that his base hasn’t abandoned him even as he has faced mounting investigations. Eighty percent of Republicans still approve of the job he is doing, including 91 percent who identify as strong Republicans. Trump has an 89 percent approval rating among those who voted for him last November. He has a 65 percent approval rating among white evangelical Christians, though almost a quarter disapprove of the job he is doing.
Still, there are some warning signs for the president among some of his key demographic groups. Only 52 percent of white, non-college-educated Americans approve of the job he’s doing, though just 37 percent disapprove. And that is higher than most other subgroups. More worrisome for the president, among older Americans, 60 and older, he’s underwater — 47 percent disapprove, while 43 percent approve.
These numbers are consistent with polling that we’ve seen since the start of Trump’s Presidency, which has been overwhelmingly negative when it comes to job approval. In the RealClearPolitics polling average, for example, Trump now stands at an average of 54.4% of respondents saying that they disapprove of the job the President is doing, with just 39.9% saying that they approve. The Pollster average, meanwhile, shows Trump’s disapproval at 53.6% and job approval at 41.1% approving of the job Trump is doing. Breaking those numbers down by political leaning, the results are mostly unexpected. Among Democrats, Trump remains overwhelmingly unpopular, with more than 80% of respondents disapproving of the job he is doing. Among Republicans, Trump’s job approval has slipped somewhat but remains above 80% while disapproval has ticked up slightly to 16.6%. Among Independents, Trump’s numbers are actually worse than they are for the population as a whole with 54.3% of respondents disapproving of the job the President is doing and 36.6% approving. As the chart of Trump’s job approval shows, the trend has been negative since the start of his Presidency, although there seems to be a floor at or near 39% that Trump has yet to fall through:
The NPR/PBS poll also has bad news regarding voter’s outlook for the future:
Overall, Americans’ outlook under Trump is dismal. Almost double say the country is on the wrong track as those who think it’s on the right track, 61 percent to 31 percent, a gap that has nearly doubled since February.
More people say they feel worse off — 40 percent — since Trump took office, than better off — 34 percent. There is a deep partisan divide on that question, of course — 73 percent of Republicans say they’re better off, while 67 percent of Democrats say the opposite. Among independents, far more — 44 percent — say they’re worse off, compared with just 27 percent who say they’re better off.
Americans also think Trump has hurt the country on the global stage. Fifty-eight percent say the president has weakened the United States’ position abroad, while 34 percent say he has strengthened it.
In addition, by a 24-point margin, Americans believe former President Barack Obama was, by far, a more effective leader in comparison to Trump, 58 percent to 34 percent. Among independents, there is an even more pronounced 36-point difference, 65 percent to 29 percent.
The right track/wrong track number found in this poll is consistent with the national average, which has 32.7% of respondents saying the country is on the right track, while 61.1% say the country is on the wrong track, a trend that has begun to widen again after becoming somewhat more optimistic in the spring:
As I’ve noted before, Trump is experiencing something rather unique for an incoming President. Generally, it’s been the case that new President’s get a honeymoon period from voters which is reflected in relatively positive job approval numbers even if the initial rollout of their Administration is less than spectacular. Barack Obama, for example, entered office with relatively high job approval numbers that stayed positive for more than two years after he entered office. This happened notwithstanding the fact that he was governing during a period when the economy was still suffering the after-effects of the Great Recession and his Administration was dealing with political controversies ranging from a stimulus package that many Americans believed was far too generous and a health care reform bill that ended up costing his party control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections. President Bush had similarly positive numbers when he entered office notwithstanding the controversies resulting from the Presidential Election in 2000. Those positive numbers continued for more than four years, although that was largely a result of the massive jump in approval he experienced after the September 11th attacks and what were initially positive public reaction to the Iraq War. Even before the 9/11 attacks, though, Bush’s job approval numbers were in good shape notwithstanding the fact that his first six months or so in office were, at best, unremarkable. The same can be said of other recent Presidents, including Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, who entered office an unelected President in the wake of the Watergate scandal and a Presidential resignation, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower. Harry Truman, and Franklin Roosevelt.
The fact that Trump’s numbers are this negative this early in his tenure are something we’ve never seen before for a President since the era of modern polling began is really quite notable, and it calls into question exactly what we can anticipate for the future. If history is any guide, then Trump’s numbers are likely to be worse in the future than they are today absent some kind of event that causes a massive turnaround in public opinion that would be largely unprecedented. Given that, one has to wonder how this will impact his Presidency. Can Trump really continue to govern effectively as a President who most Americans disapprove of by fairly significant margins? So far, the Trump Administration acts as if it doesn’t care what these numbers say, but at some point, they will begin to have an impact on what he can accomplish. For example, the ongoing debate over health care reform shows that Trump has almost no ability to cajole fellow Republicans to support his agenda. In part at least, this is because that agenda continues to get thrown off course by everything from the Russia investigation to whatever random topic Trump may be tweeting about on a given day. But these bad poll numbers are no doubt at least partly to blame because it is clearly one of the reasons that Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t afraid to openly oppose him when it is in their interests to do so. The result of all of this is that the entire Trump agenda, to the extent there is one, is at risk.
One possible response to this, of course, is that Trump will continue to be Trump regardless of what the polls say and that he can point to continued strong support from his base as a reason to do so. There are several problems with that approach, though. First of all, as the election results show, Trump’s loyal base probably isn’t enough to get him re-elected in 2020 unless Democrats make the same mistake they did in 2016 and nominate a candidate whose personal unfavorability is as bad as Trump’s was throughout the General Election campaign. They’re unlikely to do that. Second, well before 2020 Trump and the Republicans will face a test in the midterm elections that will, at least in part, likely be a referendum on the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress. If these numbers remain negative for the next seventeen months, then Democrats have a chance at making significant gains in the House and perhaps even recapturing the Senate if they play their cards right. That would make the final two years of Trump’s first term much more difficult. Finally, as I noted before, history indicates that public opinion of the President is only likely to get worse than it is right now rather than that it will suddenly turn positive. This would be especially true if the ongoing Russia investigation uncovers something putting the matter far closer to Trump’s inner circle than it is right now. So far, the Trump Administration has responded to all of this by adopting something of a seige mentality and attacking the media. If that’s any indication of how they’ll respond if things get worse, then it’s going to become even harder for Trump to accomplish anything he can credibly run for re-election on three years from now.
Un-skew the polls!!!
No, the polls are not going to get much worse for him soon. His core of supporters won’t change.
I think that Trump and his gaggle of supporters drive a lot of us bonkers simply because of the incessant gaslighting and bullying we’ve been subjected to.
Plus, it’s been made very obvious that Trump exists in his own little world, where the only thing that counts is Trump himself. He couldn’t care less that the CBO’s scoring of the Senate Heathcare bill projects over 22 million people to be uninsured. Any criticism that comes his way is immediately tagged as “fake news!” Anything he doesn’t like to hear he dismisses as fake, or being unfair, or a plot against him. And Trump has surrounded himself with court of grifters, sleezy con-guys, and other people with Trump’s similar disregard for reality. To those of us who believe in something called reality and the scientific method, Trump makes us want to pull our hair out.
There is an interesting, longer term outcome from the Trump disaster. There is a generation whose first impression of a president will be Barack Obama, and whose next is Donald Trump. Speaking as a middle aged white guy, I suspect my cohort’s collective stock is due for a steep fall. Youngish Black Guy? Extraordinarily disciplined, calm, assured, smart. Old White Guy? Well, suffice it to say he’s the caricature of everything his racist self has been spouting about young black guys his whole life. Lazy. Stupid. Gullible. No self control. Acts on impulse. Unable to control his sexual appetites. Liar. Con man. No morals.
This young generation will have their biases set in a substantially different way then generations past. .
As its been shown or commented about here, people are telling pollsters they don’t like trump or won’t vote for him because they want to tell pollsters what the pollsters want to hear. How can we forget all the pre-election polls?
So how do we do this is any different?
@MarkedMan: Trump is causing young voters to flee the GOP. We have already seen a drop in support for the Republican party among 18-29 year olds. Granted, it won’t hurt the GOP in the nearby future, but it will be a problem once the boomers are dead and gone.
The thing about Trump, I believe, is that he really, truly, deeply, does not understand the nature of his current job, nor does he have the intellect and temperament to do so. In his previous life he didn’t have to work particularly hard, and in any event it was his own personal fiefdom that he ran (badly, by most reliable accounts) according to his own whim. His anger and frustration are the anger and frustration of a toddler whose toy box has been locked. His behavior is the behavior of one of the more dull-witted 14th century English barons–even down to the droit du seigneur, as expressed in the grab ’em by the pussy boast.
@Bill: The pre-election polls and the election results ended up being the same, modulo the margin of error.
Don’t forget that Hillary won the popular vote. If the distribution of votes had fallen out only slightly differently, she would now be President of the United States of America….
….as opposed to that DINGBAT we have in there now!
So learn Chinese, m’dear. You’re going to need it, especially when you can’t find a job that has health insurance any more.
The pre-election polls showed Hillary beating Trump in the popular vote. Which she did. Your point?
You said: “Trump wants to make us pull our hair out.”
And that’s precisely what the ardent Trumpkins love about him. It doesn’t matter to them what he does, as long as he keeps making highly educated librul elitists want to tear out their hair.
He may reduce the country to smoking rubble, but they’ll crawl from the ruins and, with their last ragged breath, whisper “God bless President Trump for pissing off Grumpy Realist.”
@CSK: (Geez, when did we in the US morph into a bunch of whiny 6-year olds?)
I’m afraid you’re right. The fact that “pissing off the liberals” isn’t that great a mechanism to maintain one’s economy will somehow never cross people’s minds.
Just like the Brexiters, who are convinced that cutting themselves off from the EU will create the British Empire Utopia again.
When I see stuff like this, it’s hard not to conclude that most of the politically engaged people in this country are, well, fools.
@James Pearce: I honestly don’t know how I’d answer that question. Financially, looking at our 401(k), it’s looking good right now. However, I’m covered by my husband’s health insurance, and we both have preexisting conditions. We’re in the 45-50 age range. Were he to lose his job, we’d be utterly screwed health-insurance wise–we’d either have to shell out big bucks from emergency savings for COBRA, or we’d potentially have to move (problematic due to the age of our parents and THEIR care and a variety of other factors).
Am I better off? Yes, sort of, but that could evaporate in a New York minute, so I don’t feel better off. And that’s probably what’s going on with those numbers.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
and her emails.
@Jen: Yeah, I’d say today I’m better off, but it feels so fragile. I watch the Dow go up most days, 144 points today, and I just see it as further to fall. And if the Rs get to really feeling their oats they may go after Medicare and SS.
If you read Piketty, are aware of what the Koch Bros are doing, and see what the Rs are doing, it is really hard to have any feeling of confidence. The Koch Bros know they’re in a race, lock in Republican oligarchy now or see demographics overwhelm them.
Quoting Jonathan Schwarz:
If you’re a minority, you probably don’t feel better off no matter what the stock market is doing, or the job market. I would imagine your entire life feels more fragile than it did this time last year. Open racism is acceptable in certain areas, any ground gained in terms of equality is being undermined. I’d say that those things justify a “not better off” response..
Unemployment is 4.3% and his approval is at about 38%. If you believe we are not going to have a recession before November 2020 I have swamp land to sell you in Florida. Can you imagine the approval numbers this bozo will have when unemployment is rising? Unfathomable!
“For example, the ongoing debate over health care reform shows that Trump has almost no ability to cajole fellow Republicans to support his agenda. In part at least, this is because
that agenda continues to get thrown offthere’s no freaking agenda to begin with. All he did while running was bloviate a bunch of flocking bullshirt that resonated with what the most rabid GOP fringe wanted to hear. Unfortunately for the GOP the most rabid fringe amounts to about 45 or 50% of the total base, and they’ve been marinating (marinated?–depends on who’s the catalyst) in their rabid fringieness for about 2 decades.
@gVOR08: I don’t think the Kochs will be able to lock in a Republican oligarchy over the long term. Demographics will ultimately work against them. That and the fecklessness of Republicans.
@gVOR08: the Koch Bros. Want to turn as many US states as possible into rotten buroughs with BigAg tended by a handful of their minions.
What they forget is that if you have nothing to lose, you, well, have nothing to lose.
This is how I’d answer that question: No change. It’s too soon.
That the partisans see the pendulum swing one way or the other…I dunno, maybe it’s just how things look from their bubble.
Granted, but I’d argue this process started somewhat before the rise of Trump. Somewhere along the way we decided we didn’t want to be an integrated society, not really. I mean, we tried, but we should just admit it, our heart’s not in it.
In the end, we just want to be around people like ourselves. Or so it seems.
Hell, he doesn’t even understand health care policy, much less caring about the CBO score…it’s so nice to have a male Sarah Palin in the White House…
That never changes. What changes is the definition of “people like ourselves”.
Hmm. Well, I am in the SF Bay Area 10%er bubble, and this crew scares the shit out of me. If they successfully gut Medicaid, what happens to my disabled adult child? Hmmm. We can just let him die, or we can go bankrupt trying to save him – which we probably won’t be able to do – then we will be bankrupt people in our 60s living in one of the most expensive places on earth. I suppose we could move to a meth haven like Lake County and try to get by on social security, assuming that is still around.
Aside from my substance abuse years, my wife and I have basically been exactly the kind of citizens that Republicans claim to value. Hard working, taxpaying, law abiding, taking care of our own. The bleak future that Trump and Ryan are trying to build seems like a poor reward for playing by the rules.
The really scary thing is we are much better off financially and much better equipped to deal with life’s various challenges than most people in this country. And we may well still be screwed.
Potato chips anyone. Classic
“CNN is flying the network into a black hole and the only plot twist left is Anderson Cooper and Elmo in a spaceship trying to repair a rupture in the space-time continuum”.
Yes, if all of our votes counted equally, we wouldn’t be suffering with donald trump.
@Bill: I’ve never met a strong Trump supporter who had any compunctions about telling me what THEY wanted me to hear, not what I wanted to hear. The situation with pollsters is the same.
If Trumpcare passes, the Boomers are going to pass a lot quicker then you think. Since the elderly consume most of the healthcare in the country, Medicaid (and future Medicare and SS) cuts are a direct strike at them. Republicans essentially took the scythe that comes for us all and added nitro boosters while pointing it in their voter demographic.
Dear Republicans, those 18-29yr former GOP voters are your not-too-distant future being pissed away.
@anjin-san: This is what concerns me. There are a lot of upper-middle-class folks with $1-10 million saved in various investments – all of whom could be bankrupted by a single major medical event requiring a few weeks in the hospital, then the follow up required. A lifetime of saving and doing the right thing, evaporated.
Compare that outcome to the guy in the next cube over who just spends as fast as he earns. He too will be bankrupted.
Where’s the love for personal responsiblity??
There is some of that (some are too embarrassed to say that they support Trump), however to me the obvious fact is that a solid 40% of the people want government to shrink and the majority of those people believe that the reordering budget priorities, and cutback or privatization of Medicare and Social Security will not affect them.
I see Doug and his merry band of Trump haters and impeachment fantasizers are at it yet another day. 160 I believe.
Well, here in Italy they don’t give a shixt. Nor do they in most of the USA. But have at it. You may, though, want to get on your dentist’s schedule for those teeth mashed down to the stubb……….
Being a leader isn’t a popularity contest. In any case, if you want useful information from these polls, you need to look at them at the state level (at a minimum). The President is elected by a geographically diverse Constitutional majority, not overall popularity. It is the consequence of being a constitutional republic, instead of the autocratic leavings of a monarchy with a patina of democracy as many in Europe are discovering.
@JKB: I would think that, unless you’ve got a private army with guns forcing your control on everyone, that being a leader jolly well IS a popularity contest.
It is, but Trump/Ryan aren’t trying to build a future, bleak or otherwise. They want a political victory, not a good policy.
This is the most likely result: A bad bill that Republicans think they can fix later. I’m not seeing a lot of people defending the bill on the merits. That’s actually good sign, isn’t it?
Well, this certainly explains why Trump thinks being president is a popularity contest….
He’s just not much of a leader.
[Hey there, quiet down–they’ll hear you.]
Trump’s floor is also his ceiling. Thankfully he’s such walking filth that he has zero capacity to attract new supporters.
The floor will fall. It will take some time, but Trump is up to the job of alienating everyone but the truly morally depraved, which I’d peg at about 25%.
Indeed! And in that period of time, exactly what important legislation has a federal government completely in Republican hands passed? Anything substantial? Anything noteworthy? So gloat all you want while you are probably sitting in some pizzeria in Bumf@ck, USA, but as long as this incompetent grifter is in the White House, the Republican agenda that you hold so near and dear will go absolutely nowhere…
That has actually been done:
None of this, of course, automatically means that he’d lose those states if the election were held today. Even back in November, he had consistently low favorability ratings in polls taken within the swing states he ended up winning.
Trump didn’t win because he was popular in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania while being unpopular with the nation as a whole. He won because just enough voters in those states became victim to the delusion that however bad he was, Clinton was worse.
Geographical dispersion is only part of the story; it may help explain how he eked out his EC victory, but it doesn’t render his low job approval or favorability ratings (which are relatively consistent across the states) irrelevant.
@michael reynolds: Is that 25% of the population or 25% or the GOP? I ask because if it is a percentage of the population, with the ratio factor for the percentage of the GOP in the population, it makes a large enough segment of the base (about half if the GOP is ~32% of the pop.) to make the argument that Trump IS the GOP. That’s bad news all around. Even as an opposition party, we need a better party than Trump.
Meanwhile, several polls (including Gallup) just came out that show Trump numbers improving with his approval moving to 40% and slightly above. Which is still terrible, but in the same zone we’ve seen from other Presidents, including Obama.
But go ahead and keep boinking that chicken.
Nobody’s arguing that Trump’s ratings are unprecedentedly bad for a president at any time, period. The point is that they’re bad compared to previous presidents this early in their presidency. Obama, for example, had around a 60% approval rating at this point (June-July 2009).
Moreover, it’s unusual for a president to see ratings this low at a time when the economy is doing at least okay and the country is not in the middle of a major war.