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Economy a Strength for Trump; Russia, Environment Weaknesses

Economy a Strength for Trump; Russia, Environment Weaknesses

Story Highlights

  • 50% approve of Trump's handling of the economy
  • 35% approve of his handling of Russia, the environment
  • Economic approval for Trump higher than average of his predecessors

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Half of Americans approve of the way President Donald Trump is handling the economy, his highest score on nine issues tested in the latest Gallup poll, and the only one that exceeds his overall job approval rating by a significant margin. His worst ratings are on the environment and relations with Russia, which are the only two significantly worse than his overall approval rating.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling -- ?
  Approve Disapprove
  % %
The economy 50 47
The situation with North Korea 46 50
Gun policy 43 53
Foreign trade 39 56
Foreign affairs 39 58
Education 39 54
Immigration 38 61
The environment 35 61
Relations with Russia 35 61
Gallup, Aug. 1-12, 2018


The Aug. 1-12 Gallup poll finds 42% of Americans approving of the job Trump is doing overall. His overall approval rating in the separate Gallup tracking survey for the weeks ending Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 were 41% and 39%, respectively.

In the six times Gallup has measured Trump approval on the issues, the economy has either been his best issue or tied for his best (with terrorism, which was not included in the current survey).

He has averaged a 48% approval rating for handling the economy thus far in office, which exceeds the combined average 45% economic approval for his five immediate predecessors across their entire terms. Bill Clinton's 57% average economic approval is the highest of presidents since Ronald Reagan, the first president for whom Gallup regularly measured issue approval ratings.

On foreign affairs, the other major focus area for all presidents, 39% of Americans currently approve of Trump. He has averaged a 38% approval rating for handling foreign affairs to date, which is substantially worse than the combined 50% average of the past five presidents. Reagan (44%) and Barack Obama (45%) have the lowest foreign affairs approval ratings among these presidents, while George H.W. Bush has the highest, at 63%.

Foreign affairs is one of six issues in the poll for which Trump's approval rating is not meaningfully different from his current overall approval rating. The others are the situation with North Korea, gun policy, foreign trade, education and immigration.

Trump Issue Ratings Mostly Stable

Six of the issues included in the current survey were also measured in February. Since then, Trump's approval rating for handling the situation with North Korea has increased modestly from 41% to 46%, likely a response to the June summit meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Over the past six months, Trump's approval rating for handling foreign trade has declined significantly, from 46% to 39%, as the administration has engaged in a trade war with China and other countries.

Trump's approval on the economy, foreign affairs, immigration and relations with Russia are statistically unchanged since February.

Changes in President Trump Issue Approval Ratings, February to August 2018
  Approve (February) Approve (August) Change
  % % pct. pts.
The situation with North Korea 41 46 +5
Foreign affairs 39 39 0
The economy 51 50 -1
Relations with Russia 37 35 -2
Immigration 41 38 -3
Foreign trade 46 39 -7


Gallup previously asked about Trump's handling of the environment in June 2017, at which time 32% approved, essentially the same as now.

The current poll is the first time Gallup has asked Americans to assess Trump's handling of education and gun policy.

Economy Trump's Best Issue for All Party Groups

While Republicans rate Trump more highly than independents and Democrats on all nine issues measured in the poll, the rank order of approval ratings is about the same for all three party groups. Trump gets his highest scores from Republicans, independents and Democrats for the economy. Republicans and independents are least positive about Trump's handling of the environment and Russia. Those two issues tie with immigration as Trump's worst among Democrats.

No fewer than 74% of Republicans approve of Trump on any issue, and no fewer than 79% of Democrats disapprove of him, with 90% or higher disapproval from Democrats on four of the nine issues.

Half or more of independents disapprove of Trump on each issue, including roughly two-thirds who do so on immigration, the environment and Russia.

President Trump Issue Approval, by Political Party
  Republicans Independents Democrats
  % Approve % Disapprove % Approve % Disapprove % Approve % Disapprove
The economy 90 10 46 51 19 79
The situation with North Korea 83 14 44 50 12 84
Gun policy 85 13 38 55 9 88
Foreign trade 82 17 32 60 9 87
Foreign affairs 80 17 32 62 8 90
Education 76 18 34 58 9 84
Immigration 81 18 31 67 5 94
The environment 74 23 29 65 6 93
Relations with Russia 74 24 28 65 7 91
Gallup, Aug. 1-12, 2018



Consistent with Trump's low overall approval ratings, he receives lackluster ratings from Americans for handling specific issues. The economy is the only one of nine tested in the latest poll for which approval of Trump exceeds disapproval. That issue has been a relative bright spot for Trump, as he governs at a time of a relatively strong economy. So far, Trump's approval on the economy is higher than what recent presidents have typically had. However, Trump's predecessors took office during a U.S. recession (Reagan and Obama) or shortly after one ended (Clinton), or were in office when a U.S. recession began (George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush).

With Trump's overall approval rating running close to 10 percentage points below his economic approval rating, it appears other factors are more influential in Americans' assessments of how he is doing. The other factors could be issues like foreign affairs, immigration or trade, on which his approval is closer to his overall approval rating. But they could be non-issue-related, like his personal characteristics, or more simply a result of a Republican president governing in an increasingly politically polarized era.

Explore President Trump's approval ratings 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. 1-12, 2018, with a random sample of 1,024 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.


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