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Trump Stuck at 42% Job Approval

Trump Stuck at 42% Job Approval

Story Highlights

  • Americans' approval of Trump has been steady near 42% since June
  • Recent winning incumbents had 49% or better approval at similar point
  • Less than half of U.S. adults watched either party convention in August

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the election for president moves into its post-Labor Day phase, President Donald Trump is maintaining a 42% job approval rating -- unchanged from where he stood in Gallup's August poll, completed before the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and similar to his July reading.

Line graph. Trend in President Trump's job approval rating since January 2020. Has ranged from high of 49% earlier this year to low of 38% in June, and is now 42%.

The latest poll, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 13, finds 56% of Americans disapproving of the job Trump is doing, consistent with his disapproval scores since June.

Views of Trump have also held firm by political party. He continues to enjoy solid support from fellow Republicans, at 92% approval now versus 90% in August, while earning relatively low approval from independents (36% now, 39% in August) and barely any from Democrats (4% now and 5% in August).

Convention Viewership Lowest in Two Decades

The timing of the early August and early September polls suggests no sustained bump for the president among Republicans or independents after the conventions.

The new poll confirms media reports of generally low viewership for both party conventions this year, with fewer than half of Americans reporting they watched "a great deal" or "some" of either event.

The 46% watching the Democratic convention and the 40% watching the Republican convention are rivaled only by the 45% watching at least some of the 1996 GOP convention (Gallup did not measure Democratic viewership that year).

Gallup's question this year did not specify whether people watched on television or livestreaming, and thus should have captured viewership across all platforms.

Line graph. Americans' level of viewership for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. 46% of Democrats viewed some of or a great deal of the conventions, compared with 40% of Republicans.

Historical Comparisons Not Favorable for Trump

At 42%, Trump's latest job approval rating continues to lag behind ratings of his recent predecessors who were successful at winning a second term; it still runs slightly ahead of the approval ratings for unsuccessful incumbents.

In early September of their reelection years, Barack Obama had a 49% approval score, George W. Bush was at 52%, Bill Clinton at 60% and Ronald Reagan at 57%.

Both recent incumbents who lost had less than 40% approval: George H.W. Bush at 39% and Jimmy Carter at 37%.

Presidential Incumbent Job Approval in Reelection Years
Recent trends
Year Early September of
reelection year
preelection poll
% Approve % Approve
Winning incumbents
Barack Obama 2012 49 52
George W. Bush 2004 52 48
Bill Clinton 1996 60 54
Ronald Reagan 1984 57 58
Losing incumbents
George H. W. Bush 1992 39 34
Jimmy Carter 1980 37 37
Based on U.S. adults

Bottom Line

With less than 50 days remaining before Election Day, Trump's job approval rating continues to fall well short of the 50% threshold that has historically been associated with incumbent reelection.

Trump may have counted on the Republican Party's four-day convention to strengthen his case for a second term among swing voters while solidifying his Republican base. But the online format required by the pandemic may not have been conducive to this. Further, it appears Trump has neither suffered nor benefited from more recent news on the coronavirus, unemployment, wildfires, racial justice protests and urban riots.

At this juncture, after the conventions and follow-up media coverage have fully played out, Republicans are firmly in Trump's corner, while political independents remain aloof. Trump's best hopes to change the narrative on his presidency may thus lie in the upcoming presidential debates or an unanticipated news event that casts the president and his first four years in a more favorable light.

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

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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