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Trump's Job Approval Stabilizing at Lower Level

Trump's Job Approval Stabilizing at Lower Level

Story Highlights

  • Approval has been 34% or 35% in Gallup Daily tracking since Aug. 20
  • Weekly average of 35% for Aug. 21-27 is new low for Donald Trump
  • Trump's term-to-date average has fallen below 40% for the first time

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's job approval rating has stabilized, registering 34% or 35% in each Gallup Daily tracking three-day rolling average since Aug. 20, including 35% in the latest update based on Aug. 27-29 interviewing. The 34% approval ratings recorded last week tie the Aug. 11-13 measurement as the lowest Trump has had as president.

Graph 1

After starting out in the mid-40s, Trump's job approval rating has been below the 40% mark in each month since February. He is on pace to spend the entire month of August below 40%, with his job approval rating last at 40% on July 11.

The stable, lower job approval ratings in recent days produced a 35% weekly average for Trump during the week of Aug. 21-27. This is the lowest weekly average of his presidency.

Graph 2

Because of the recent pattern, Trump's full-term approval average since he took office in January has now fallen below 40% for the first time, to 39%. The historically low job approval ratings for Trump are well-documented, but the weakness of his 39% term average to date is stark:

Trump still has nearly five months left in his first year in office, and three full years beyond that until his first term is over. His unusually low ratings so far mean his support will need to improve substantially to avoid leaving office with the worst approval ratings a president has had by a significant margin.

Democratic Approval of Trump Stuck in Single Digits

The chances of Trump's ratings improving substantially, however, are hampered by his low support among Democrats, a major reason why his overall approval is so low. In Aug. 21-27 Gallup polling, an average of 7% of Democrats said they approve of the job Trump is doing.

Single-digit approval ratings of the president are not uncommon in the recent era of highly polarized job approval ratings. Obama and George W. Bush registered many single-digit approval ratings from Republicans and Democrats, respectively, while in office. But neither did so for the first time until much later in his presidency -- Obama in October 2010, nearly two years into his presidency, and Bush in October 2004, during his fourth year in office.

In contrast, Trump fell below 10% job approval among Democrats his second full week in office. Although Trump has seen some approval ratings among Democrats of 10% or higher since then, he has not done so since the week of April 24-30.

Obama had the lowest full-term average approval rating among supporters of the opposition party, at 13%. Trump has averaged 8% job approval among Democrats to date.

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Republican Approval Is Slipping but Remains Healthy

As would be expected, Trump's fellow Republicans still largely approve of the job he is doing, averaging 78% approval last week. But it is Trump's lowest weekly approval rating among Republicans so far, and significantly below his 85% average to date within his own party.

While still healthy in an absolute sense, Republican approval of Trump is only slightly better than Obama's low point among his fellow Democrats (72%) in October 2011. That low point for Obama came amid a series of financial setbacks for the U.S., including a downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, bleak jobs reports and the spreading of the Occupy Wall Street movement across the nation. His job approval rating among all Americans at that time was 41%.

Trump's approval rating among Republicans could still fall much lower. George W. Bush's low point was 55% Republican approval in October 2008 -- coincident with his personal record-low overall rating of 25% -- after Congress passed legislation to bail out banks from the September 2008 financial crisis.

Three in 10 Independents Approve of Trump

Currently, 30% of political independents approve of the job Trump is doing, which is lower than Obama's worst showing among the group as president -- 31% in December 2013 and again in March 2014. Bush's approval among independents sank to as low as 19% in October 2008.

Bottom Line

Trump's public support, historically low since he took office, has taken several hits in response to controversies or political setbacks that have dogged his presidency, including his order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, several failed attempts in the House and Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and his firing of FBI Director James Comey in May. While those may have led to short-term declines in his approval rating, the effects did not last, and his support recovered at least somewhat once the news focus turned to other events.

Even earlier this month, when Trump's approval rating first fell to 34% after he made some controversial statements about North Korea and Charlottesville, Virginia, it recovered to 38% after he finally condemned white supremacists in a White House speech on Aug. 14. But his almost immediate reversion to blaming "both sides" for the Charlottesville violence may have sent his rating back down, and it has now stabilized at or near his term low. Whether because of those or other events, or possibly because of seasonal patterns in job approval ratings Gallup has observed in recent years, Trump is ending the summer on a low note.

There is precedent for Trump's support to erode further, as five of the other 12 post-World War II presidents -- Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- registered sub-30% job approval ratings during their presidencies. Each of those instances occurred near the end of the president's administration -- in his final or penultimate year in office. If Trump falls below 30% approval before his third year in office, he will set another dubious record.

Explore President Trump's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 21-27, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,541 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

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