After President Trump's most recent rhetoric about Charlottesville inflamed even more criticism, many Republicans stayed silent. But a handful of GOP lawmakers and now Trump's own economic adviser are directly criticizing him. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Once upon a time, there were rumblings in Washington that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) was under consideration as a potential secretary of state in the administration of President Trump. That didn’t pan out and, in the months since Trump’s inauguration, it’s become clear that this was for the best, as Corker has repeatedly criticized Trump’s time in office.

In May, after The Post reported that Trump had revealed classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, Corker described the White House as being in a “downward spiral.” When Trump repeatedly bashed his own attorney general, former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, Corker criticized the president’s behavior. On Thursday, after nearly a week of analysis of Trump’s handling of the racial violence in Charlottesville, Corker released a new critique:

This is an unusual rebuke from a senator for a president from his own party. But polling from Quinnipiac University released Thursday makes clear that Corker isn’t alone within his party in seeing his views of Trump’s performance shift.


Sen. Bob Corker leaves Trump Tower in New York City on May 23, 2016, after meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

The Quinnipiac poll showed a slight improvement for Trump since the beginning of the month, with 39 percent of respondents saying that they view his presidency with approval. Nearly 6 in 10 hold a disapproving view.

Those numbers have increased over the seven months of Trump’s presidency, with more than half of the country now strongly disapproving of how Trump is doing. On Jan. 26, Quinnipiac found that only 40 percent of the country strongly disapproved of Trump. The figure was never that low again.


To the point with Corker, that slip has been seen among Republicans as well. In early August, Trump hit two new lows: his lowest approval from Republicans and, interestingly, his lowest strong approval rating from members of his own party. Three-quarters of Republicans still thought he was doing a good job, just less strongly so.

The new poll shows some improvement, but his strong approval numbers from Republicans are the second-lowest in Quinnipiac’s polling.


Since he took office, most Americans have been skeptical of Trump’s personal characteristics as well. More than half the country views him as a strong person and intelligent, but only a minority agrees with other possible descriptors: that he’s honest, that he cares about average Americans, that he shares our values, that he’s levelheaded or that he’s got good leadership skills.

It’s on that last point that Trump’s seen the biggest decline since inauguration — a drop from about half the country thinking he was a good leader in late January to about 40 percent saying it now.


Among Republicans, the drop has been steeper. Views of his leadership ability rebounded from earlier this month, but there’s still been a 13-point decline in how Republicans feel about Trump’s ability to lead. On every other metric, too, fewer Republicans now say that they think Trump holds these positive qualities than they did shortly after he took office.


On no characteristic does Trump fare more poorly among Republicans than on whether he’s levelheaded. Only 62 percent of members of his own party say that applies, while a third say it doesn’t.

In other words, Corker’s assessment that Trump has not “been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to be successful” is a view that’s held by a lot of other people in the Republican Party.