skip to main content
Majority in U.S. Optimistic Trump Will Make Country Prosperous

Majority in U.S. Optimistic Trump Will Make Country Prosperous

by Jim Norman
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Only 36% think he will do a good job of protecting the environment
  • Public split on whether he will improve nation's energy policy
  • Americans less optimistic than at start of Obama, Bush presidencies

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A majority of Americans are optimistic that President Donald Trump can do a good job of making the country prosperous, but they are divided on whether he can improve energy policies, and most think he will do a poor job of protecting the environment. On all three issues, Americans are less optimistic about Trump than they were about George W. Bush or Barack Obama in the early days of their presidencies.

Expectations for Trump, Obama and Bush at Start of Their Presidencies
Do you think Donald Trump/Barack Obama/George W. Bush will do a good job or a poor job in handling each of the following issues as president?
  Good job Poor job Fair/mixed
  % % %
Making America prosperous  
Trump (2017) 54 41 4
Obama (2009) 61 30 3
Bush (2001) 66 23 7
Protecting the nation's environment  
Trump (2017) 36 57 4
Obama (2009) 79 14 4
Bush (2001) 51 38 5
Improving nation's energy policies  
Trump (2017) 46 48 2
Obama (2009) 72 21 2
Bush (2001) 58 29 6
All surveys were conducted in March of that year

Trump has been less popular in general than either Bush or Obama at the start of their terms in office. His favorability ratings have been lower, as have his job approval ratings. Trump's 45% job rating in January was the lowest initial job reading for any president in Gallup polling dating back to 1953.

High expectations for Bush and Obama were somewhat dampened by the end of their terms. For both presidents, more Americans were likely to expect them to do a good job on the environment, energy or prosperity as they took office than wound up thinking they had done so by the end of their presidencies.

High Expectations Did Not Pan Out for Obama, Bush
Percentage who expected Obama/Bush to do a good job in first year of their presidencies; percentage who said they did a good job in last year of their presidencies
  First year Final year Difference
  % % pct. pts.
Making America prosperous  
Bush 66 27 39
Obama 61 45 16
Protecting the nation's environment  
Bush 51 31 20
Obama 79 54 25
Improving nation's energy policies  
Bush 58 23 35
Obama 72 48 24
All surveys conducted in March of that year

Trump Calls for Major Shifts in Environmental, Energy, Economic Policies

Trump has consistently found his strongest public support on economic issues. Gallup polling the week after he won the election in November found Americans most optimistic that Trump would be able to "reduce unemployment and create new jobs" (62%) and "improve the economy" (60%). In the same poll, only 35% said Trump would be able to "improve the quality of the environment" -- tied for the smallest percentage for any of the 17 items listed.

On the often-linked issues of the environment and energy, Trump has proposed major rollbacks of Obama-era environmental policies as he shifts toward increasing U.S. energy production. He vowed on the campaign trail to cancel U.S. involvement in the historic Paris agreement on climate change signed by 194 nations last year and plans to end regulations put into place by Obama for cutting greenhouse pollution from coal-fired power plants. Trump's proposals come at a time when Americans' concerns about energy are shrinking.

Partisan Differences Larger Now Than at Start of Bush, Obama Presidencies

The gulf between Republicans and Democrats (including those who lean to either party) is larger on each of the three issues than it was for either Bush or Obama during the first months of their first terms. The smallest gap between the parties now is on the environment, largely because relatively few Republicans and leaners (66%) expect Trump to do a good job. In contrast, 89% of Republicans say he will do a good job of making the nation prosperous. Meanwhile, between 11% and 24% of Democrats think Trump will do a good job on any of the issues.

Gap Between Republicans and Democrats Widens
Comparing party difference on percentage of Republicans and Democrats (including leaners) saying Trump/Obama/Bush "will do a good job"
  Republicans + leaners Democrats + leaners
  % %
Making America prosperous  
Trump (2017) 89 24
Obama (2009) 28 86
Bush (2001) 88 46
Protecting the nation's environment  
Trump (2017) 66 11
Obama (2009) 64 95
Bush (2001) 71 33
Improving nation's energy policies  
Trump (2017) 80 18
Obama (2009) 46 93
Bush (2001) 80 40
All surveys conducted in March of that year

Bottom Line

The lack of any honeymoon for Trump is evident once again in the public's views of how he will handle the three key issues of prosperity, energy and the environment. Although a slight majority of Americans are optimistic about the effect his presidency will have on national prosperity, they are far less optimistic than at the start of the last two presidencies. Furthermore, bucking normal public support for new presidents, less than half of Americans are optimistic Trump will advance the nation's energy or environmental policies.

Trump might see less of a drop from expectations to ratings of actual performance than Obama or Bush did because expectations for him are already so low. But his plans for action on the environment and energy will seemingly require real shifts in public opinion to succeed, given Americans typically view energy problems as less important than protecting the environment.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 1-5, 2017, with a random sample of 1,018 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 ±4 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.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030