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Trump, Congress Job Approval Mostly Steady Amid Shutdown

Trump, Congress Job Approval Mostly Steady Amid Shutdown

Story Highlights

  • 37% approve of the job Trump is doing
  • Approval had been 39% in last update
  • Congress' job approval also similar to pre-shutdown measures

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's latest job approval rating is 37% in the midst of what is now the longest running government shutdown in the U.S. His prior approval rating, from before Christmas, was 39%. While Trump's rating has been little affected by the shutdown, it is the first time his approval rating has been 37% or lower since February.

Line graph. Trump’s job approval rating is now 37%, compared with 39% before the government shutdown.

The latest results are based on a Jan. 2-10 Gallup poll. The federal government shutdown began on Dec. 22 after Trump and congressional leaders failed to pass a continuing budget resolution. That came as the Congress refused to authorize Trump's request of more than $5 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Currently, 59% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing, up from 55% before Christmas. However, his disapproval rating had been similar to today's level in November, reaching 60% after the midterm elections.

The current shutdown has had almost no impact on how Republicans and Democrats view Trump. According to the latest poll, 88% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing, showing no meaningful change from 89% before the shutdown began. Democrats' approval of Trump remains in single digits, at 6%. To the extent that Trump's support has suffered, it has been with independents, among whom approval has dropped from 39% to 31%.

Change in Trump's Job Approval Ratings, by Political Party
  Dec. 17-22 Jan. 2-10 Change
  % % pct. pts.
Republicans 89 88 -1
Independents 39 31 -8
Democrats 8 6 -2

Congress' Job Approval Also Steady

The current impasse has been mostly described as a battle between Trump and congressional Democrats, who now hold the majority in the House of Representatives. Congress' current 20% job approval has also changed little from before the shutdown. Gallup's prior measure of congressional job approval, from Dec. 3-12, was 18%.

Congress' job approval rating may not have changed because the pre-shutdown and post-shutdown measures are conflated with the change in party control of the House from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party on January 3rd. As a result, partisans' basis for evaluating Congress has changed. Democrats' approval has increased from 9% in December to 22% today, while Republicans' and independents' ratings are both down slightly.

Change in Congress' Job Approval Ratings, by Political Party
  Dec. 3-12 Jan. 2-10 Change
  % % pct. pts.
Republicans 23 20 -3
Independents 23 18 -5
Democrats 9 22 +13

Prior Shutdowns Associated With Lower Ratings of the President or Congress

The current shutdown has passed the late 1995/early 1996 standoff as the longest in U.S. history. President Bill Clinton's job approval rating fell significantly as he and the Republican leaders sparred over government spending levels. Just as that shutdown was beginning, a Dec. 15-18, 1995 Gallup poll had Clinton's job approval rating at 51%. As it ended, a Jan. 2-6, 1996 poll showed Clinton with 42% approval. Gallup did not measure congressional job approval just before and just after the 1995-1996 shutdown, so it is not known whether Congress' image suffered.

Another lengthy government shutdown, lasting 16 days, occurred in September and October 2013. That shutdown was largely focused on a dispute over funding of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and had little effect on President Barack Obama's job approval rating. Immediately before the shutdown began, 45% of Americans approved of the job Obama was doing. During the second full week of the shutdown, his approval rating averaged 42%.

Gallup polling suggests that Americans may have held Congress more responsible for that shutdown than they held the president. Congress' approval rating dropped from 19% in early September to 11% in October.

Government Shutdowns: Approval Ratings of Presidents and Congress
  Before shutdown During/After shutdown Change
  % % pct. pts.
Clinton 51 42 -9
Congress n/a n/a n/a
Obama 45 42 -3
Congress 19 11 -8
Trump 39 37 -2
Congress 18 20 +2

In November of that year, Gallup registered the lowest job approval rating it has ever measured for Congress -- 9% -- in polls dating back to 1974.


Americans' opinions of federal government leaders have not been affected much during the current government shutdown. It is uncertain how long the shutdown will continue as neither Trump nor Democratic congressional leaders appear willing to compromise on the border wall issue at the root of the conflict. The effects of the shutdown are becoming more apparent, with federal workers' missed paychecks last week being perhaps the most notable development. While the shutdown has so far had little effect on leaders' public support, there is no guarantee that will continue to be the case the longer the shutdown persists, particularly if reports of the toll it is taking on federal workers, and Americans more broadly who are unable to obtain certain government services, become more prominent.

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

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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