As he prepares to leave office, a similar dynamic is at play. He’ll reenter the private sector as persona non grata to much of the country and with his personal (read: corporate) brand greatly diminished. Businesses are again announcing their separation from Trump and his political allies. But he will also continue to be seen as a hero to millions of Americans.
The question, then, is what happens as the Trump administration moves further from view. Will Trump’s approach to the presidency be vindicated in the coming decades? Or will his tenure be viewed as a low point in the history of the United States?
To Trump, of course, the answer is clear: He’ll be vindicated. To most Americans, though — including to many members of his own party — the expectation is that he will be seen as an unusually unfit occupant of the White House.
Polling released Friday from The Washington Post and our partners at ABC News shows that about 6 in 10 Americans say Trump will be seen as a below-average president, with fewer than 3 in 10 saying he’ll be considered above average. Fifteen percent of American adults think that he’ll be viewed as having been “outstanding” in the position, while nearly half say that history will view his presidency as “poor.”
Broken down by demographic groups, we see patterns that are familiar, given the past five years. White Americans are much more likely to have positive expectations for Trump’s legacy than are non-White Americans; White men and Whites without a college degree are among the few groups for which opinions are even close to being evenly split.
Only among members of Trump’s own party does a majority think that he will be seen as better than average. But even among Republicans, the reviews aren’t exactly fawning. Only about 3 in 10 say he’ll be seen as having been an “outstanding” president. That’s only about twice the number of Republicans who say they think he’ll be seen as a “poor” president — remarkably mixed opinions for his own party.
We’ve asked this question before. More Americans say Trump will be viewed as a below-average president than say the same of any of his four predecessors. Notice, too, that opinions of Trump are much more sharply polarized, with fewer Americans saying he’ll be seen as “average.”
It’s not clear the extent to which Trump is worried about how he’s viewed in the future. Of much more pressing concern, one might assume, is how he’s viewed now and the extent to which his post-presidency will revert to mirroring his pre-presidency.
When he decided to run for office in 2015 and burned up business partnerships through his inflammatory comments, that energy helped fuel his political success by generating a fervent core of support. Now, that core is what’s left of his foray into electoral politics as his business empire has shrunk from what it once was.
Given that, it remains safe to assume that Trump’s political legacy has not yet completely cemented.