As a man who judged people on the basis of TV ratings and the size of crowds, they could attract the latest Gallup poll spells really bad news for Donald Trump. A Gallup poll shows that as President Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House, 34% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president, the worst evaluation of his presidency and the worst evaluation of any president since Harry Truman nearly 70 years ago. His 41% average approval rating throughout his presidency is four points lower than for any of his predecessors in Gallup’s polling era. Trump’s ratings showed a record 81-percentage-point average gap between Republicans and Democrats — 11 points wider than the prior record.
Even after he lost the election in November, Trump’s approval rating was at 41 percent, but it has since dropped precipitously in the intervening two months.
Trump began his presidency with a 45% job approval rating. By the end of 2017 he registered several 35% readings. In mid-2018 that improved briefly to 45%, but was 38% at the time of the 2018 midterm elections. He registered several 49% readings in early 2020 before falling to 39% in May 2020. He ended his presidency with 34% approval.
Trump is the only president not to register a 50% job approval rating at any point in his presidency since Gallup began measuring presidential job approval in 1938. Likewise, he is the only president who did not have a honeymoon period of above-average ratings upon taking office. His initial 45% job approval rating proved to be his high point for his first year as president.
Any positive momentum the president enjoyed was erased after the election. Trump’s refusal to concede the election and his attempts to overturn the results, the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill, a U.S. surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, and his second impeachment contributed to a postelection erosion in support for him.
The total 12-point drop in approval for Trump after the election is especially notable in that most departing presidents — including two who were defeated for a second term — enjoyed increases in job approval ratings between the time of the election to choose their successor and his inauguration. On average, “lame duck presidents” before Trump saw a seven-point increase in job approval
Trump leaves office as the least-positively evaluated president in the Gallup polling era, based on the average of his approval ratings. He also just received his personal low approval rating, thanks largely to a sharp decline in public support during a lame-duck period marked by controversy, which could overshadow his accomplishments.