President Trump's setbacks on campaign promises such as repealing the Affordable Care Act and his shifting positions on other stances look like they're catching up with him — bigly.
A new poll from Gallup released early Monday finds that a majority of Americans no longer view Trump as keeping his promises, with poll numbers on that question falling from 62 percent in February to 45 percent in early April, a stunning tumble of 17 percentage points. The drop was seen across every demographic group: women, men, millennials, baby boomers and people with political leanings of all kinds. While numbers sank the furthest among respondents who identified as a Democrat or liberal, independents who said they thought Trump kept his promises fell from 59 percent to 43 percent; even among Republicans, the numbers fell, from 92 percent to 81 percent.
The poll, which was taken between April 5 and April 9, showed that Trump's ratings fell on all six presidential leadership characteristics that Gallup measures. The percentage who think he is a “strong and decisive leader” also took a big hit, falling from 59 percent to 52 percent. So did the share of people who think he can “bring about changes this country needs,” which fell seven percentage points, too, to 46 percent. Just 36 percent see him as “honest and trustworthy,” compared with 42 percent in February.
On two other measures, whether Trump “cares about the needs of people like you” and “can manage the government effectively,” the president's numbers also fell, although Gallup noted those declines were not statistically significant.
The ratings dive was most stark when it came to women who think Trump keeps his promises — just 40 percent now say he does, compared with 65 percent in February, a striking 25 percentage-point plunge. In a write-up of the results, Gallup explained that the numbers came after Trump's defeat over repealing the Affordable Care Act, as supporters have become unhappy he hasn't done more on taxes and immigration while detractors are upset he hasn't protected middle- and working-class Americans.
What may be most remarkable is that the poll was performed before Trump dramatically flipped his positions on multiple other stances in the days that followed, as The Post's Fact Checker column recounted last week. After saying he'd move on to tax reform after the GOP's stinging defeat on its health-care bill, Trump said in a Fox Business Network interview on April 11 that he would “do health care first.” And in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said guidelines on rewriting the tax code would come only after a new health-care bill passes, although his budget director later said the two were “on parallel tracks.”
In the same interview with the Journal, published Wednesday, Trump said he supported the Export-Import Bank, the credit agency he'd called “unnecessary” and “excess baggage” back in 2015. The same day, Trump said he would not label China a currency manipulator, reversing an economic promise from his campaign. Also on Wednesday, during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, he said the trans-Atlantic alliance was “no longer obsolete,” reversing a stance from the campaign and even after the election. That string of changes followed others he has made, on issues such as Medicaid spending and H-1B visas.
The polling did, however, come amid Trump's decision to strike Syria militarily, which he authorized on April 6, shifting the stance he took in multiple tweets from 2013 and 2014 opposing such action in Syria. And it comes as Trump nears his presidency's important 100-day milestone with little to show in the way of major new legislative deals of his own, not only on health care or tax reform, but on promises like infrastructure.
“Strong and decisive leadership” is the only characteristic in the Gallup survey for which a majority of U.S. adults (52 percent) still give Trump positive grades. But even that majority is slim, dropping seven percentage points from February. It followed other polls that have shown a similar trend. For the past three weeks, the Economist/YouGov poll has found that just 50 or 51 percent of U.S. adults said Trump was either a “very strong” or “somewhat strong” leader in a question about leadership qualities, down from 61 percent in the results after his inauguration.
That attribute — a leadership style that's “strong and decisive” — was said to be extremely important to voters in at least one poll after the last election. A Morning Consult/Politico exit poll from November showed that voters said being a strong leader was the most important characteristic they used when choosing a president, with 36 percent saying it mattered most, compared with just 18 percent who said the same in 2012.
Of course, the numbers for that characteristic could still shift for Trump as his presidency continues. And in its write-up of the latest results, Gallup notes that's also possible for how people perceive his ability to stick to his word. But “for now,” they wrote, “Trump has lost significant ground with a public that only two months ago credited him with having one of the key characteristics of a successful president.”