The Associated Press reports that Gallup shows President Trump “has averaged just a 39 percent approval rating since his inauguration. The previous low was held by Bill Clinton, whose first-year average stood 10 points higher than Trump’s, at 49 percent.” AP explains: “Recent surveys show most Americans view Trump as a divisive figure and even question his fitness for office. One relative bright spot for Trump is his handling of the economy, though even there his ratings are not as high as might be expected given a relatively strong economy.”
Trump likes to think of himself as in a class by himself; in this case, he is. “The persistence of Trump’s first-year blues is unprecedented for a president so early in his term. Americans usually give their new presidents the benefit of the doubt, but Trump’s ‘honeymoon period,’ to the extent he had one, saw his approval rating only as high as 45 percent. Since then, Trump has spent more time under 40 percent than any other first-year president.”
Trump’s policies on everything from immigration to health care are unpopular, but there is little doubt that voters are rejecting him:
In the January poll by Quinnipiac University, most voters said Trump is not level-headed, honest or even fit to serve as president. And the AP-NORC poll conducted in December found that two-thirds of Americans thought the country has become even more divided as a result of Trump’s presidency. In a July Gallup poll that asked those who disapproved of Trump for their reasons why, most cited his personality or character over issues, policies or overall job performance.
Republicans remain overwhelmingly supportive of him, which raises the question as to why character counts for so little in the party previously distinguished for its support of traditional values.
The rotten polling likely won’t change anytime soon. It does, however, have several political ramifications that Republicans are only now coming to grasp. First, Republicans widely acknowledge a high probability that they will lose the House. In the best of times, the party holding the White House will lose considerable ground. With a president this unpopular, it will be a steep uphill climb for the Republicans to hold on. Given the odd array of retirements and the shocking victory in Alabama, Democrats have a good chance to maintain 49 seats in the Senate and a shot at winning back the majority there as well.
Second, all of this will influence the reaction to the special counsel’s findings. Either before or after the midterms, impeaching the president becomes easier when there is widespread disgust with his conduct in office. (Removing him remains a daunting task under any circumstances, given the two-thirds requirement in the Senate.) Likewise, support for increased investigation of Trump’s finances becomes easier when the public feels little, if any, sympathy for the besieged president.
What is remarkable is that with his big “win” on taxes, so little has changed. Republicans are still marching behind him. Democrats and independents are outraged by each new demonstration of his unfitness. The voters in November will get to decide whether Trump faces a hostile Congress prepared if need be to remove him. It’s not exactly a do-over of 2016, but it’s the only chance they may get until 2020 to remove the stain on the presidency and on America’s reputation around the world.
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