The latest PEW survey shows a deep partisan divide and very low levels confidence in how the Trump presidency will go.
The PEW findings are not particularly surprising given how polarizing Donald Trump’s candidacy was, how unconventional his victory tour has been, how controversial many of his appoints are, and that he now trails Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by over 2.6 million, but they are certainly still worth noting. Only 35% of Americans surveyed believe Donald Trump will be a good/great president. But as the PEW notes, this paltry sum is actually a marked increase from the 25% he received back in October.
As the figure above shows, compared to the four presidents who preceded him, Trump’s PEOTUS approval ratings are very low. Obama took the white house in 2008 by a massive margin and riding a wave of support and positivity, so his rather stunning numbers are a bit of an outlier—but Trump’s current ratings are well below the average in both surveys. In the portion that measures approval rating for cabinet choices, Trump comes in 23 percentage points below the average: 63% to 40%. The survey that measured the percentage of Americans who approve of the job Trump has done explaining his plans and polices shows a similar 21 pt gap between the POETUS and the average: 62% to 41%.
George W. Bush is the second poorest performer on the list, but his numbers are still significantly higher than Trump’s. Coming off his delayed, tight and rather controversial victory in 2000, there was a sense of unease throughout the country and the numbers reflected that. It was the first time since Glover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888 that the electoral college did not match up with the popular vote. It’s worth noting that Gore’s margin of victory in the national vote was 5x less than Hillary Clinton’s—and her lead continues to grow.
There’s one aspect of the impending Trump presidency that nearly everyone agrees on: he’ll have to be “more cautious” as president. 82% of people polled overall, and 76% of republicans, urged caution from Trump. His rambunctious behavior and unorthodox way of communicating has the majority of Americans concerned. Many seem to still be pining for a pivot. If history is any indication, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
If we’ve learned anything by now it’s that Donald Trump is Donald Trump; he may be moderately malleable in terms of policy, but his character is laser-etched in granite.
These numbers clearly show that Trump has a lot to prove to a lot of people, and his moves thus far have not succeeded in bridging any gaps. Approval ratings are generally a good indication of the current tenor of the country, and the U.S. is currently exhibiting a pervasive sense of unease towards the future.
The republican party is cresting into 2017 with a majority in both houses and white house control, but in terms of public support they’re teetering on calamity.