Following the Nov. election, Donald Trump’s favorable rating was 42% and his unfavorable 55%, according to Gallup. Today his favorable is down to 40% and his unfavorable is steady at 55%. How does this compare to recent presidents-elect at the beginning of their terms?
Unlike Mr. Trump, each newly-elected president in the last 24 years saw his favorable ratings improve between Election Day and his Inauguration. In Nov. 1992, Bill Clinton’s favorable rating was 58% and his unfavorable rating was 35%. In Jan. 1993, his numbers improved to 66% and 26%, respectively. When George W. Bush was first elected, his favorable/unfavorable numbers were 53%/43%. By the start of 2001, his numbers improved to 62% favorable and 36% unfavorable. In Nov. 2008, Barack Obama’s favorable rating was 68% and his unfavorable rating was 27%. In January 2009, those numbers improved to 78% and 18%, respectively.
It is difficult to maintain high favorable ratings over the course of a president’s term. At the end of just their first years, Messrs. Clinton and Obama saw their favorable rating fall to 55% and 56%, respectively. Mr. Bush is an exception (his favorable rating jumped to 87% at the end of his first year). Mr. Trump begins his presidency with a favorable rating under 50%. He must focus and deliver on the promises he made on the campaign trail, especially on the economy and jobs. If he does not before his first year ends, his numbers could fall to dangerous levels and supporters grow frustrated.