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Are Trump’s Approval Ratings His Base or His Ceiling?

By Susan Kuebler

According to the respected polling company Gallup, Donald Trump began his presidency on January 20 with the lowest approval rating of any new president, since Gallup began charting approval/disapproval ratings for presidents.  Not only was his 45% approval rating the lowest, his disapproval rating, also 45% was significantly higher than any other president as well.  Even George W. Bush, after the highly contentious race of 2000, only started with a 25% disapproval rating and that was the lowest before Trump came along.

Trump won the Republican nomination by a remarkably similar number of 44.9% of the votes cast in the primaries.  Granted, there were a number of candidates vying for votes early on in the race.  After initially losing the Iowa caucus to Ted Cruz, Trump’s margin of victory in some of the winner-take-all states of New Hampshire (35%), South Carolina (33%), Georgia (39%), Arkansas (33%) and Illinois (39%) never broke 40%.

While his victory percentages increased dramatically after Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich dropped out of the race, the best he could achieve was 80% in own background state of New Jersey facing no opposition whatsoever.

When the final votes were tallied following the election for President on November 8, 2016, Trump’s percentage was strikingly similar again – 46.1% of the voters supported him.  Compared to the 48.2% who voted for Hillary Clinton, this places Trump just slightly ahead of Rutherford B. Hayes and John Quincy Adams who won the presidency with smaller margins of victory.  [Per]

Despite his low numbers, it would be expected that any President, in the “honeymoon” phase of starting out, would see a rise in his polling numbers.  For Trump, however, the exact opposite has occurred.  Gallup’s polling for Trump’s first four weeks in office showed a decrease to 42%.  That’s a drop of 3% in four weeks.  The Quinnipiac University poll showed only a 38% approval rating.  Trump started out in a hole and instead of climbing out of it, he just keeps digging deeper.

Trump’s response to these unusual and unfavorable numbers was predictable.

While Trump may dismiss these numbers as lies, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Republicans in Congress are watching them like a hawk.  Especially every member of the House and the Republican Senators up for re-election in 2018.  If Trump’s numbers continue to fall, especially if they dip into the low 30s, or possibly even the 20s, Donald Trump is going to find himself a political pariah in the halls of power in Washington.

This review of Trump’s support indicates that he has not, and never will, enjoy the support of the majority of the American people. Forty-six percent looks very much like his ceiling, not his base. And his decreasing approval ratings also indicate that the more the American people see Trump in action, the less they like what they are seeing.

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2 Comments on Are Trump’s Approval Ratings His Base or His Ceiling?

  1. Another awesome piece! As John Oliver so eloquently put it, Trump is that mole that you didn’t get checked early and is now growing larger and it’s too late to remove (for the next four years). Actions speak volumes when the words don’t match, and the American people are starting to see that now.

  2. Members of Congress read the polls and look to re-election the morning after their election. My concern is that only the polls effect them. The actions and words of the President don’t seem to matter. Thankfully much of the American public is smarter and has more integrity.

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