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Trump Approval, Economic Confidence Rebound

Trump Approval, Economic Confidence Rebound

Story Highlights

  • Trump's approval rating up to 44% post-shutdown
  • Views of the U.S. economy and optimism about its future have risen
  • 69% say it is now a good time to find a quality job, a record high

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's job approval rating has risen to 44% after the conclusion of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. While views of Trump have improved, the public's heightened positivity does not extend to views of Congress, as its 21% approval rating is essentially unchanged from January.

Line chart. President Trump’s job approval rating since August 2018, currently 44%.

The latest readings are from a Feb. 1-10 Gallup poll. The poll began less than a week after Trump signed legislation to end the 35-day shutdown and open the government for three weeks so lawmakers could negotiate funding for a border wall.

Trump's overall approval rating, which had slumped to 37% amid the shutdown, hasn't been this high since October, after his nominee Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. His current approval is just one percentage point shy of his personal best, achieved twice in his presidency -- in the first week of his term and in June 2018, after his meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump's job approval rating was up significantly throughout the survey field period, including in the days before and after his Feb. 5 State of the Union address. Accordingly, it is more likely that his decision to end the shutdown was the primary factor in his improved rating.

The latest increase in approval is mainly the result of political independents' improved opinions of Trump. Between the late January and February polls, independents' approval of Trump rose six points, to 38%. At the same time, Republicans and Democrats held steady at 89% and 5%, respectively. Trump's higher approval rating also reflects an increase in Republican party identification from late January, which has expanded the base of Republicans.

Americans' Views of Economy Improve

In his State of the Union address, Trump touted an "unprecedented economic boom" launched under his leadership. Since he took office, his handling of the economy has been a strength for him relative to other issues, and the latest reading continues that trend, with 52% of Americans approving. His current approval rating on the economy is not significantly different from the November reading. At that time, his economy rating far outweighed his ratings across several other areas.

From June until early November 2018, an average 54% of Americans rated the economy as "excellent" or "good." In January, that reading hit 49% amid the shutdown and a volatile stock market, but it has rebounded sharply in the latest poll, with the shutdown over and the stock market performing well again. Today, 57% of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good, the highest since January 2001.

At the same time, optimism about the economy's trajectory faltered in January as 44% of Americans said they thought economic conditions in the U.S. were getting better, down from 57% in November. In the latest poll, that figure has risen 10 points, to 54%.

In his speech, Trump also highlighted the nation's low unemployment rate, which has been at or below 4% since last March. Although Americans' perceptions of the job market have been positive for the past year, the 69% in February who say it is now a good time to find a quality job is the highest it has been (albeit by one point) since Gallup first asked the question in 2001.

Line graph. Americans’ views of the U.S. economy, jobs and the overall direction of the U.S. since November 2018.

Yet for all of the heightened positivity about the U.S. economy, Americans remain entrenched in their negativity about the country in general, with just 29% saying they are satisfied with the way things are going nationally; 69% are dissatisfied. Partisans' opinions on this measure diverge sharply: 51% of Republicans, 27% of independents and 10% of Democrats are satisfied.

Democrats' and independents' ratings of the economy as excellent/good and their views about whether it is improving rose sharply between January and February, while Republicans' already positive views remained steady. But Democrats' views of the job market were down slightly in February, while Republicans' and independents' opinions edged upward.

Americans' 2019 Outlook Varies by Party Identification
  U.S. adults Republicans Independents Democrats
  % % % %
Economic conditions excellent/good  
Feb 1-10 57 78 52 40
Jan 2-10 49 80 45 32
Economic conditions getting better  
Feb 1-10 54 83 48 31
Jan 2-10 44 83 42 18
Good time to find quality job  
Feb 1-10 69 92 65 49
Jan 2-10 66 88 62 54
Satisfied with way things are going  
Feb 1-10 29 51 27 10
Jan 2-10 26 54 24 8

Bottom Line

The recent political brinksmanship harmed Trump's ratings when he eagerly used the government shutdown as a strategy to force funding for a border wall. At that time, Trump's approval rating fell, while Congress' already low rating held steady. But by reopening the government -- something widely seen as evidence of failure -- Trump may have won praise from the public, something both sides should bear in mind as they negotiate to avoid a repeat shutdown.

For now, it appears that Americans' pessimism about the U.S. economy was rooted in the shutdown and stock market volatility in December and January. January's 4% unemployment rate and the past month's gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average likely have contributed to the public's increased economic confidence, but further volatility could spook Americans and another shutdown could wipe out the gains for Trump and economic indicators.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

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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