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Trump Job Rating Steady; Other Mood Indicators Tick Up

Trump Job Rating Steady; Other Mood Indicators Tick Up

Story Highlights

  • 43% approve of job Trump is doing, matching average for his 15th quarter
  • Record-high 90-point party gap in job approval rating
  • Satisfaction with state of nation, economic confidence slightly better

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Donald Trump's job approval is steady at 43%, while Americans' ratings of the state of the nation and the U.S. economy are slightly improved from September.

The Sept. 30-Oct. 15 Gallup poll finds 43% of Americans approving and 55% disapproving of the job Trump is doing as president, matching the average for his recently completed 15th quarter in office, from mid-July to mid-October. The president's ratings earlier this year included several 49% readings, the highest of his term to date.

Line graph. President Donald Trump's job approval ratings since August 2019 have ranged from a low of 38% in July 2020 to highs of 49% in January, February, March, April and May. His current approval rating is 43%.

The latest survey finds 90 percentage points separating Republicans' (94%) and Democrats' (4%) ratings of the president, exceeding by one point the previous high for Trump and any president since Gallup began compiling these data in 1953. In fact, 12 of the 13 largest party gaps Gallup has measured in a single survey have occurred during Trump's administration, with most of them from this year.

Largest Party Differences in Presidential Job Approval Ratings, Single Gallup Polls
Poll dates Republicans Independents Democrats Rep-Dem Gap
% % % pct. pts.
Trump 2020 Sep 30-Oct 15 94 35 4 90
Trump 2020 Jun 8-30 91 33 2 89
Trump 2020 Aug 31-Sep 13 92 36 4 88
Trump 2020 Sep 14-28 94 39 7 87
Trump 2020 Jul 1-23 91 34 4 87
Trump 2020 Feb 3-16 93 43 6 87
Trump 2020 Jan 16-29 94 42 7 87
Trump 2020 Apr 1-14 93 39 7 86
Trump 2019 Nov 1-14 90 38 4 86
Trump 2019 Sep 3-15 91 38 5 86
Trump 2019 Mar 1-10 90 33 4 86
Trump 2018 Nov 5-11 91 34 5 86
Obama 2012 Oct 29-Nov 4 6 51 92 86

Historically, presidents' approval ratings have tended to be most polarized during their fourth year in office, when they are seeking reelection. Trump's first-, second- and third-year average ratings were more polarized than any other president's first three years, and his fourth year is on pace to be the most polarized presidential year in history.

Thirty-five percent of independents currently approve of the job Trump is doing.

National Satisfaction Weak but Improved

The poll finds an improvement in Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States -- to 19% from 14% in September. The current satisfaction rating remains well below the historical average of 36%. It is similar to the levels Gallup measured around the time of the 1980 and 1992 presidential elections that saw incumbents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush defeated for a second term in office. The lowest satisfaction recorded in a year when an incumbent was reelected was 33% in 2012.

Republicans are responsible for the improved satisfaction ratings this month, with 39% satisfied, up from 26% in September. Meanwhile, independents (14%) and Democrats (5%) remain highly dissatisfied with the state of the nation.

Line graph. Republicans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. has increased from 26% in September to 39% in October. Satisfaction among Democrats and independents has been stable.

Even with the uptick this month, Republicans' satisfaction is less than half what it was before the coronavirus pandemic. In February, with the economy doing well and Trump acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial, 80% of GOP loyalists were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S.

Economic Confidence Slightly Better

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is currently -4, a modest improvement from -10 in September and up more substantially from -32 in April. The index was +41 before the coronavirus pandemic, which was the highest it had been in two decades.

Line graph. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is currently -4, showing steady improvement from a -32 reading in April. The April reading was down from +22 in March and +41 in February.

The index summarizes Americans' evaluations of the economy and their perceptions of whether it is improving. Currently, 33% rate the economy as excellent or good and 29% as poor. At the same time, more say it is getting worse (53%) than better (42%).

Republicans are quite positive about the economy, while Democrats are quite negative and independents slightly more negative than positive. Democrats' confidence has barely recovered since April, while independents and Republicans have shown significant improvement. Republican confidence has recovered the most but is still not back to prepandemic levels. Independents are mostly responsible for the overall increase in confidence in the past month.

Line graph. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index, by political party. Current (October) ratings are improved versus April among Republicans (from +4 to +56) and independents (from -39 to -9), but are basically unchanged among Democrats (-57 in April versus -52 in October).

Most Other Presidents Had Better Approval Ratings Than Trump Does Now

The 43.3% average job approval rating for Trump from mid-July to mid-August is lower than for most other elected presidents during their 15th quarters in office. Carter and Bush both had lower ratings in the final months before their unsuccessful reelection bids. The other presidents -- all of whom won reelection -- had job 15th-quarter averages closer to 50%.

Elected Presidents' Job Approval Averages During Their 15th Quarter in Office
Dates of 15th quarter Average approval rating Number of polls
Trump 2020 Jul 20-Oct 19 43.3 4
Obama 2012 Jul 20-Oct 19 47.8 92
G.W. Bush 2004 Jul 20-Oct 19 50.2 10
Clinton 1996 Jul 20-Oct 19 56.9 8
G.H.W. Bush 1992 Jul 20-Oct 19 35.2 9
Reagan 1984 Jul 20-Oct 19 54.8 5
Carter 1980 Jul 20-Oct 19 34.5 2
Nixon 1972 Jul 20-Oct 19 n/a 0
Eisenhower 1956 Jul 20-Oct 19 68.0 1

Presidential job approval has been a reliable predictor of incumbent reelection success. Barack Obama's late October and early November ratings -- the earliest in his 16th quarter -- were better than his 15th-quarter ratings. He registered 52% approval at the time of the 2012 election. George W. Bush's ratings declined in late October 2004, and his approval rating was 48% when votes were cast, the lowest so far for an incumbent who won reelection.

Bottom Line

With the election looming, Americans continue to disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, express low levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in the country and rate the economy more negatively than positively. National satisfaction and economic confidence are slightly better than they were a month ago and significantly improved from their 2020 low points. While economic confidence is similar today to what it was in 2004 and 2012 -- years in which incumbents were reelected -- satisfaction and job approval are currently below the levels that have in the past been associated with successful reelection bids.

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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