Most presidents, in their first few months in office, get a “honeymoon” period with relatively high approval ratings. After a contentious election season, winning candidates typically try to build bridges and mend fences, and Americans of all stripes try to put their differences aside and look hopefully toward the future.
Donald Trump, not so much.
A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (conducted before Friday’s controversial executive order on refugees) shows Trump with a 44 percent approval rating and an identical 44 percent disapproval rating – “historically awful numbers for a newly elected president,” according to PPP director Tom Jensen.
Tom Jensen spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
That’s largely because voters disagree with Trump on nearly every major issue that’s currently in the spotlight. Only 34 percent of voters are in favor of building a Mexican border wall if Americans have to pay for it up front (53 percent are opposed). Fifty-nine percent of voters think Trump needs to release his tax returns; 61 percent believe Trump needs to fully divest from his business interests; and by a 58-21 margin, Americans say our intelligence agencies have more credibility than the president. Even the Affordable Care Act is growing in popularity: 45 percent support the ACA now, with only 41 percent opposed; and only 30 percent of voters are in favor of a full repeal.
As a result, PPP’s survey finds 35 percent of Americans are already in favor of impeaching Trump – and voters already expect him to be the worst president since Richard Nixon. Pit head-to-head against past presidents, Trump comes out behind Barack Obama, both George Bushes, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and even the less popular Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. (Trump does beat Nixon, though, by a 40-31 margin.)
The PPP survey does confirm one thing, though: the Republican Party is now, unequivocally, the party of Donald Trump. Voters in general expect Trump to be terrible, but GOP voters say – by a wide margin – that Trump will be better than even past Republicans. GOP voters favor Trump over George W. Bush by a 65-15 margin, George H.W. Bush 63-17, and Gerald Ford 71-13. (Ronald Reagan still comes out ahead among Republicans – but even then, not by much: 45 percent of GOP voters think Reagan will be the better president; 31 percent pick Trump.)
But Trump’s unpopularity generally may prove to be an albatross for the GOP in future elections. Democrats now lead the generic Congressional ballot 48-40 – their largest lead in many years. (Republicans led the “generic ballot” question by a similar margin right before their midterm sweep in 2010.)
PPP isn’t the only polling outfit to find that Trump is extremely unpopular: Gallup shows Trump with 42 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval, and Quinnipiac shows him with 36 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. Trump fans can take solace in a survey from Rasmussen Reports that shows him with a 55 percent approval rating – far higher than any other survey – but even Rasmussen shows 45 percent of Americans already disapprove of Trump, still a historically high number for a president in his second week on the job. (An Economist/YouGov survey shows more Americans undecided: 43 percent approve of Trump, 39 percent disapprove.)