President Donald Trump received substantially worse ratings for his initial months in office than any other president elected to his first term since World War II, according to Gallup.
Even those presidents who went on to be unpopular generally enjoyed high ratings during their first months in office after their electoral victory. But Trump’s average rating since Inauguration Day is just 41 percent, Gallup finds, making him the only such president in its polling history to fall short of majority approval during his first quarter.
President Bill Clinton, the next-lowest ranked, had an average approval rating of 55 percent for that time period, while Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush enjoyed first-quarter ratings of 63 percent and 58 percent, respectively.
What sets Trump apart isn’t a lack of support from his own party. About 87 percent of Republicans approve of his performance, several points above the average for previous presidents and similar to the numbers Obama and Bush saw at this point in their presidencies.
Rather, Trump’s ratings reflect the near-complete absence of support from Democrats, just 9 percent of whom approve of his performance so far.
Americans’ willingness to support a president across the aisle has shrunk dramatically in recent years. This early in their terms, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter all saw majority support from their opposing party, a feat that seems almost unimaginable in the modern political environment. Even Obama still managed to garner the approval of about 30 percent of Republicans during the first quarter of 2009, while George W. Bush saw a 32 percent rating among Democrats in the first quarter of 2001.
Trump’s numbers are also notably weak among independents. Just 37 percent approve of his performance, according to Gallup, compared with 51 percent or more for every other president elected to his first term since Eisenhower.
Trump’s “unconventional style suggested his presidency would be like nothing seen before,” Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones wrote. “And that has been true, but likely not in the way he or his supporters hoped ― with no honeymoon period to speak of and approval ratings far worse than any president has received this early in his tenure. On his best day, less than half of Americans, 46%, have approved of the job Trump is doing.”
Gallup is just one of the pollsters tracking Trump’s approval rating, and its numbers so far have looked slightly less positive than average.
But they’re not far off. As of Thursday morning, HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate, which combines publicly available polling, gives Trump about a 43 percent approval rating, with just under 51 percent disapproving. By contrast, in April 2009, Obama’s average rating, though quickly declining from his post-inauguration honeymoon numbers, still stood at just under 60 percent.
Gallup surveyed 45,111 adults between Jan. 20 and April 19, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cellphones.
Language has been added to clarify that Gallup was looking only at presidents since World War II who were elected to their first terms. Therefore, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford were omitted from the analysis.