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Trump Job Approval Slightly Improved in Ninth Quarter
Politics

Trump Job Approval Slightly Improved in Ninth Quarter

Trump Job Approval Slightly Improved in Ninth Quarter

Story Highlights

  • 41.6% average is up from 39.3% in eighth quarter
  • Latest quarterly average nearly matches Trump's best to date
  • Most other presidents were rated better at same stage in their presidency

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's job approval ratings during his ninth quarter were among the best in his presidency to date. His 41.6% average approval rating between Jan. 20 and April 19 is more than two percentage points better than his average in the prior quarter, and nearly matches his personal best 41.9% average from his sixth quarter in office.

Line graph. President Trump’s average 41.6% job approval in his ninth quarter is one of his best.

The ninth quarter was an eventful one for Trump, as it began with the U.S. federal government still partially shut down because of a funding dispute with Congress over the president's long-promised border wall. When the quarter began, his job approval rating was 37% -- two points above his personal low.

His approval rating rose significantly in Gallup's first poll conducted after the shutdown ended, to 44%, and it stayed at about that level through February as Trump touted strong economic numbers, including stronger-than-expected job creation and solid stock market growth.

Gallup's March update found Trump's job approval rating slipping back to 39%, after a summit with North Korea failed to produce an agreement and when longtime Trump confidant Michael Cohen gave damaging testimony about Trump to congressional committees. At that time, Congress also considered -- and later passed -- a resolution to block Trump's use of national emergency powers to divert funds to help pay for construction of a border wall. Trump vetoed the resolution, the first time he had vetoed a bill in his presidency.

In the most recent survey, from April 1-9, 45% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, tying his best job rating from a single poll. That poll was conducted after Attorney General William Barr released a summary of findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's involvement with Russia. The Mueller report found there was no evidence of criminal collusion with the Russian government, but did not reach a conclusion as to whether Trump obstructed justice to impede the investigation.

Most Presidents Had Better Ninth-Quarter Ratings

As has been the case in prior quarters, Trump's ninth-quarter average is among the lowest that presidents have received at similar stages in their presidencies. Only one other post-World War II elected president -- Ronald Reagan in 1983 (38.8%) -- had a worse ninth-quarter rating than Trump, while Jimmy Carter's 41.2% ninth-quarter average was similar. Reagan and Carter were both dealing with struggling economies at that point in their presidencies.

Elected Presidents' Ninth-Quarter Job Approval Averages
Dates of 9th qtr. Average approval Number of polls
%
G.H.W. Bush Jan 20-Apr 19, 1991 82.7 12
Eisenhower Jan 20-Apr 19, 1955 70.0 5
Kennedy Jan 20-Apr 19, 1963 67.7 3
G.W. Bush Jan 20-Apr 19, 2003 63.3 15
Nixon Jan 20-Apr 19, 1971 49.3 3
Obama Jan 20-Apr 19, 2011 46.7 89
Clinton Jan 20-Apr 19, 1995 45.7 6
Trump Jan 20-Apr 19, 2019 41.6 5
Carter Jan 20-Apr 19, 1979 41.2 6
Reagan Jan 20-Apr 19, 1983 38.8 5
Gallup

Trump's comparatively better ninth-quarter average than Reagan's marks the first time Trump has had a meaningfully higher job approval rating than another president did in the same quarter. In three other quarters, Trump has had approval ratings that were essentially tied for the lowest historically with other presidents, including during his sixth (Carter), seventh (Carter, Reagan and Bill Clinton), and eighth (Reagan) quarters in office. In his first five quarters, Trump's approval ratings were the lowest by significant margins.

George H.W. Bush had the highest ninth-quarter average of 82.7%, which came after the U.S. defeated Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. George W. Bush averaged 63.3% job approval ratings in early 2003 in the lead-up to, and eventual start of, the second U.S. war with Iraq. Recent presidents Barack Obama and Clinton had approval ratings roughly five points higher than Trump's during their ninth quarters as president.

Implications

Considering where his approval rating was at the start of the ninth quarter versus where it was at the end, Trump's ninth quarter in office was a relatively good one for him. The surges in his approval ratings after the government shutdown ended and after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation were rare instances of a short-term increase in public support for him. A key to his political future will be whether he can sustain this latest increase, especially with the potential for further investigation into Trump's actions coming after the release of the redacted Mueller report last week.

Even with the improved ratings, Trump remains rated less positively than most presidents who served before him and, unless his ratings improve further, past Gallup analysis suggests that his chances of winning a second term are slim.

Ninth-quarter approval ratings are not highly predictive of re-election success, as evidenced by the cases of Reagan, who won a second term after a poor ninth-quarter average, and the elder Bush, who did not win after a historically strong ninth quarter. As with those examples and others (including Carter and Clinton), whether the economy improves or gets worse over the next 18 months will go a long way toward determining if Trump can win a second term.

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

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/249041/trump-job-approval-slightly-improved-ninth-quarter.aspx
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