Throughout the 2016 campaign, there was one mainstay when it came to reasons to vote for Donald Trump: Change. Even as people questioned his temperament and experience and policies, they believed he would change Washington. It was his central appeal, according to exit polls.
A new Gallup poll on Tuesday showed just 40 percent of people said Trump has made progress after 100 days when it comes to changing the way Washington works; 54 percent said he hasn’t.
This finding echoes — and is slightly worse than — a Fox News poll last week, which showed 43 percent believe he is bringing real change to Washington, versus 50 percent who say he’s not.
These numbers are a far cry from where we were after Trump’s election.
In December, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed 68 percent thought Trump would change the way business is conducted in Washington. Just a couple days prior, a CBS News poll put the number at 62 percent. Even many people who didn’t vote for Trump clearly thought he could deliver on change.
The evidence was also there on Election Day. Exit polls give voters four options when it comes to what their most important consideration in a candidate is:
- “Cares about me”
- “Can bring change”
- “Right experience”
- “Good judgment”
Clinton won 3 of the 4 categories, all of them by substantial margins. The only one that Trump won? “Can bring change.” A whopping 39 percent of voters said this was their most important consideration — bigger than all the other options by a healthy clip — and Trump won these voters 82-14.
(For comparison’s sake, in 2008 Barack “Hope and Change” Obama won this group 89-9, but it was slightly less of the overall vote: 34 percent. At the same point in his presidency as Trump is now, Americans said Obama was delivering on that change by a 53-45 margin.)
And it’s difficult to overstate how central this question is to Trump’s presidency. It was a focal point of his inauguration speech, and he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post over the weekend arguing that, amid all his other broken promises, changing Washington was definitely one promise he had delivered on.
One hundred days ago, I took the oath of office and made a pledge: We are not merely going to transfer political power from one party to another, but instead are going to transfer that power from Washington, D.C., and give it back to the people.
In the past 100 days, I have kept that promise — and more.
Except Americans don’t see it that way.
Even Trump skeptics believed that was possible before. Today, it’s one of the many things that basically only his base believes about him.