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Trump Character Ratings Improved, but Still a Weakness

Trump Character Ratings Improved, but Still a Weakness

Story Highlights

  • Four in 10 say Trump has personality, leadership qualities of a president
  • Americans divide evenly on whether they agree with him on issues
  • Trump ideological profile similar to George W. Bush's

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More Americans today (40%) than two years ago (33%) believe President Donald Trump has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have, although that still represents a minority of the public. In contrast, roughly six in 10 Americans thought George W. Bush and Barack Obama had the right presidential characteristics at a similar point in their presidencies.

Donald Trump is rated worse than Barack Obama and George W. Bush on having the proper presidential character.

The April 17-30 Gallup poll finds Trump's character continues to be a weakness for him, especially given the generally strong ratings of his predecessors on the same question. In fact, neither Obama nor Bush ever had a rating lower than 49% during their presidencies.

Still, assessments of Trump's character are not as poor as they were two years ago, consistent with his improved job approval ratings between the two periods. Slightly more Republicans, Democrats and independents now believe he has the character a president should have than did so in July 2017.

Changes in Perception That Donald Trump Has the Personality and Leadership Qualities a President Should Have
Please tell me whether you agree or disagree that Donald Trump has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have.
2017 2019 Change
% Agree % Agree pct. pts.
U.S. Adults 33 40 +7
Republicans 74 81 +7
Independents 27 31 +4
Democrats 6 13 +7

Trump Rated Better on Issues Than Character

More Americans evaluate Trump positively for his issue positions than for his character -- 47% say they agree with Trump on the issues that matter most to them. Unlike his deficit on the character dimension, Trump scores about the same as his two predecessors on issues.

U.S. adults are as likely to say Donald Trump agrees with them on issues as to say Barack Obama and George W. Bush did.

Trump's better ratings on issues than on character distinguish him from Bush and Obama, who were both rated significantly better on character than on issues.

Like his ratings on presidential character, Trump's issue ratings are better than the last time Gallup asked the question. The 47% of Americans expressing agreement with Trump on issues is up from 39% in July 2017. As would be expected, there are wide party differences on this question, although slightly more Republicans, Democrats and independents indicate issue agreement with Trump now than did two years ago.

Change in Perceived Agreement or Disagreement With President Trump on the Issues
Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with Donald Trump -- on the issues that matter most to you.
2017 2019 Change
% % pct. pts.
U.S. Adults
Agree with Trump 39 47 +8
Disagree with Trump 58 53 -5
Agree with Trump 89 93 +4
Disagree with Trump 10 7 -3
Agree with Trump 33 40 +7
Disagree with Trump 63 59 -4
Agree with Trump 5 11 +6
Disagree with Trump 93 88 -5

Perceptions of Trump Ideology Similar to Those of George W. Bush

For the first time, Gallup asked Americans to characterize Trump's ideology. Thirty-nine percent say he is too conservative, 38% believe he is about right, and 17% say too liberal. Opinions of Trump's ideology nearly duplicate those of the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, who in early 2004 was regarded as too conservative by 39%, as about right by 36%, and too liberal by 18%.

A slim majority of Americans in early 2012 said Obama's views were too liberal (51%), and 41% said the same about Bill Clinton in early 1996.

Americans' view Donald Trump's political views as similar to those of George W. Bush.

The vast majority of Republicans describe Trump's political views as being "about right." Meanwhile, six in 10 Democrats say he is too conservative, and a plurality of independents agree.

Perceptions of Donald Trump's Political Views
Do you think Donald Trump's political views are too conservative, about right or too liberal?
Too liberal About right Too conservative
% % %
U.S. Adults 17 38 39
Republicans 7 77 15
Independents 19 32 42
Democrats 21 9 62
April 17-30, 2019

Bottom Line

As Trump seeks a second term, his chances of winning re-election appear greater if the campaign is decided on issues rather than character. His two immediate predecessors were viewed similarly to him on issues but were rated far superior on character. Both ultimately won re-election.

Democrats can enhance their odds of beating Trump in 2020 by nominating a candidate who is perceived as having a strong character. That is something they did not do in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee. She, like Trump, was widely thought to be dishonest and untrustworthy, thus negating one of Trump's obvious weaknesses and making character less of a factor in voters' decision-making processes.

Democrats also must be careful not to nominate a candidate who is perceived as out of the mainstream on issues. Doing so could elevate issues as a voting factor and work to Trump's advantage if more voters say they agree with Trump than the Democratic candidate on the most important issues.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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