Polling News

Stable Presidential Job Approval Rating

December 27, 2018

According to Gallup, President Donald J. Trump’s approval rating has been relatively stable over his first two years.  His approval rating has varied from 35% to 45%, a range of ten points, the smallest for any president during their first two years.  Richard Nixon saw the second smallest range, 17-points, with approval running between low job 51% and 67% during his first two years. Lyndon B. Johnson had the next smallest range of 17 points (62%-79%), followed by Dwight Eisenhower (18 points), John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton (22 points), Barack Obama (24), George H. W. Bush (26), Ronald Reagan (31), Gerald Ford (34), Jimmy Carter (36), George W. Bush (39), and Harry Truman (54).  

The difference between Mr. Trump and other presidents with small ranges in their approval rating is that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings started low and have stayed relatively low (below 50%).  The other presidents whose range was lower than 20 points all started with high approval ratings (above 65%) that stayed relatively high over their first two years.  Gallup notes one reason Mr. Trump may have more stable job approval rating is the lack of an honeymoon or a national rally.  While other presidents like George W. Bush and Kennedy saw approval rise after national events like the 9/11 attacks and Cuban missile crisis, Mr. Trump has not seen his approval ratings rally after any event during his time in office. 

Gallup says presidential job approval ratings have grown increasingly polarized over the last twenty years.  However, Mr. Trump’s ratings have been some of the most polarized in Gallup’s history.  When he took office, the Democratic base stood strong against him and the Republican base was solidly in line behind him.  Considering the political climate, the coming Democratic presidential primary campaigns and the unlikeliness of each base to shift, it is doubtful the president will see a sharp improvement in his Gallup approval rating that would push it above 45% in the foreseeable future. 

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