About one-third of Americans view President Trump’s job performance with approval, according to the most recent three-day average released by Gallup. His 34 percent approval in that survey marks a new low for the president — and, as Marquette Law School poll director Charles Franklin pointed out on Twitter, it’s a figure that’s lower than the all-time lows of every post-World War II president except the Bushes, Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon. His 61 percent disapproval number is higher than the all-time highs for any president in that period except George W. Bush, Nixon and Truman.
And, Franklin notes, he got to those lows very quickly.
Trump’s trajectories for lowest approval & highest disapproval in Gallup compared to all post-war presidents. pic.twitter.com/t2W2Grs0B8
— Charles Franklin (@PollsAndVotes) August 14, 2017
Here is the comparison with Barack Obama alone. It took Obama 909 days of Gallup polling to hit his low of 38 percent; Trump got to his (current) low of 34 percent in only 200 days of polling. Obama’s all-time high disapproval number — four points lower than Trump’s — came years into his presidency. It took Trump only months.
Trump started low and sank lower. Obama’s numbers also dropped after inauguration — and more significantly. He saw a 27-point increase in his disapproval numbers by this point in his first term and a 14-point decrease in approval. But he had more room to fall, with Republicans giving him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of his presidency in a way that Democrats never did with Trump.
We’ve noted in the past that the variability of the daily poll numbers can be misleading. A plunge of three points in a daily average can be followed by a quick uptick. Instead, I prefer to look at the weekly averages compiled by Gallup, which show a fairly consistent downward trend. (Over his first six months, Obama saw a similar trend, as noted above.)
What’s particularly interesting about those numbers is how demographic groups view Trump vs. Obama at the same point in his first term. Unsurprisingly, there’s a wide gulf in how partisans view the two presidents, with Democrats loving Obama and loathing Trump and Republicans holding the opposite views — but to a lesser extent in each case.
The net result is interesting: Among core Republican groups, Trump is viewed about as favorably at this point as Obama was in the summer of 2009.
For example, Trump is about as positively viewed now by white Americans as Obama was with that group eight years ago. Among nonwhites, there’s a massive disparity.
Only among three demographic groups is Trump within shouting range of Obama’s mid-2009 approval numbers (excluding Republicans and conservatives): older Americans, regular churchgoers and whites.
Put another way: Trump is so unpopular so soon that the most religious voters in Gallup’s survey think he’s doing slightly worse now than they thought Obama was doing in August 2009.
It’s worth noting, too, that Obama’s high and low poll numbers are set in stone. Trump’s could still conceivably get worse.