Approval Rating Lowest on Record; Even Believers Appear to be Dropping Off By John Zogby
We cannot really say we have never seen anything like this before.
The United States has had its populist presidents – Andrew Jackson in the 1830s and Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century. Both were volatile, bullies, self-styled “tribunes” or “stewards” of the people, and truly racist.
We have had our dark and brooding figures who battled endlessly with the press. Certainly, Richard Nixon comes to mind.
And there were the prevaricators who falsified information to lead the US into wars – James Polk in the 1840s, Lyndon Johnson in 1960s, and George W Bush a little over a decade ago.
But with Donald Trump, history goes out the window.
All the rules, conventions, and protocols of presidential behavior have been violated. His polling numbers reveal this.
Elected with only 46% of the popular vote in November 2016, his job approval rating average today is a paltry 39% – low by any standard but especially so since he has actually lost ground with the public in only his first year.
While the US Gross Domestic Product is humming at an annual rate of 3%, unemployment is officially at merely 4.1%, consumer confidence is soaring, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an unprecedented 8,000 points in exactly one year.
Still, only 45% give the President a positive rating on handling the economy and almost three in five (58%) say the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Even worse for Mr Trump, more voters overall say they are worse off financially today (43%) than say they are better off (35%). And the numbers who say that “having Donald Trump as President makes them pessimistic” are higher today than they were one year ago.
Normally, a new president receives a grace period or a “honeymoon” in his first 100 days so he can get a chance to settle in, define his agenda, and establish a vision.
Mr. Trump launched his incumbency with arguments over the size of the crowd at his inauguration, lost his first National Security Advisor in less than two weeks, and began a series of late-night tweets that revealed a hypersensitivity to criticism and a pettiness which we cannot say we have never seen before in the Oval Office – but at least have never seen non-stop.
In short, Mr. Trump squandered his honeymoon period and never seized the opportunity to do what all chief executives must do: build a governing majority.
His polling numbers actually dropped in his first 100 days, a first since pollsters began their tracking, and reached record lows for a first-year president.
His 32% rating in a December 2017 Gallup poll is his lowest, and the lowest rating for a president in the first year in office.
His 39% average after his first full year is also the lowest on record.
To be fair, Mr. Trump started out with not only detractors but a substantial number – close to 50% who simply detest him, who feel that his ascendancy is tantamount to Armageddon.
But he is losing support among those who voted for him.
In a CBS News Nation Tracker poll (conducted 10-12 January), only 18% identified themselves as “believers” in Trump – down 4 points from February 2017; while 41% say they are “resistors”, up 6 points from almost a year ago.
Obviously, some voters chose him because of their distaste for Hillary Clinton, thus he holds on to the support of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals, conservatives, voters in the lower middle-income ranges.
The highest approval rating he has reached in his first year (46%) – a few times in a Rasmussen poll only – represent the only times he has matched his election vote.
Despite his promises to be a new and revolutionary president, to “dredge the swamp in Washington DC,” 49% now feel the US “runs for the benefit of the elite” and 70% of his opponents (who themselves are a majority) say they do not support him because “he is disrespectful of people like (them)”.
It has been quite a year and his polling numbers reveal he is losing ground.
But as for now, he is still the elected President of the United States, and it does not look likely that will change any time soon. But anything can happen. It already has.
John Zogby (@TheJohnZogby) is the founder of the Zogby Poll and Zogby companies, including John Zogby Strategies, and author of We Are Many We Are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in the 21st Century America.