x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 August 2017

Trump’s approval rating lowest of any US president during first six months in office: poll

Only 36 per cent of Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing, according to a new Washington Post and ABC poll conducted between Tuesday and Thursday last week. The number is lower than for any previous US president in polls dating back 70 years

US president Donald Trump waves as he departs the US Women's Open golf tournament at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on July 15, 2017. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
US president Donald Trump waves as he departs the US Women's Open golf tournament at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on July 15, 2017. Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Donald Trump made history on Sunday when a new poll put his approval rating at an all-time low for a US president during their first six months in office.

Only 36 per cent of Americans approve of the job Mr Trump is doing, according to a new Washington Post and ABC poll conducted between Tuesday and Thursday last week. The number is lower than for any previous US president in polls dating back 70 years. Even for Mr Trump himself, it represents a 6 per cent drop in his popularity from April.

Mr Trump attacked the poll on Twitter, saying on the one hand that “almost 40% [approval] is not bad at this time”, before discrediting the poll as “just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!".

 

The poll puts Mr Trump's approval rating 23 percentage points lower than both former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush at this time in their presidency.

Despite Mr Trump’s talk about “great G20” meetings in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on Thursday last week, the poll also showed that 48 per cent of Americans “see the country’s leadership in the world as weaker since Trump was inaugurated, compared with 27 per cent who say it is stronger.”

At the heart of Mr Trump’s problems appears to be accusations of Russian involvement in last year's presidential election. One week after The New York Times revealed that Donald Trump Jr met with a Russian lawyer to discuss damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Americans are growing more suspicious of the Trump campaign's ties to Moscow. 

More than six in 10 (63 per cent) of respondents in the poll said Mr Trump Jr’s meeting with the Russian lawyer was inappropriate. Sixty per cent also said that Russia tried to influence the presidential election in favour of the Trump campaign, up 4 per cent from a survey conducted in April. More worrisome for the administration is that “roughly four in 10 believe members of Mr Trump’s campaign intentionally aided Russian efforts to influence the election, though suspicions have changed little since the spring”, the poll said. 

These numbers are also constraining Mr Trump’s ability to reach out to Moscow for policy co-ordination on Syria, Ukraine and a host of other issues. Almost “two in three say they do not trust the president much, including 48 per cent who say they do not trust the president at all” in negotiations with world leaders, including Mr Putin.

The only good news for Mr Trump in the poll is how his opponents, the Democrats, are viewed. Only 37 per cent of Americans “say the Democratic Party currently stands for something, while 52 per cent viewed it as it 'just stands against Trump'”. 

The poll will likely have Republicans scrambling and worrying about the 2018 midterm elections in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. “If Trump's at 36% approve/58% disapprove, with 32% approval among independents, GOP won't hold the House,” Bill Kristol, a Republican pundit and editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard conservative news magazine tweeted on Sunday. 

 

 

Already, the Republican Senate leadership has delayed a vote planned for next week on repealing ObamaCare — a key promise of the Trump campaign — after failing to get 50 votes in support of the new bill. According to Sunday's poll, half of Americans said they prefer ObamaCare over the new Republican plan to replace it, with the plan only supported by 24 per cent of respondents.

Neither the multiple investigations into Russian involvement in the presidential election - including by the FBI, US justice department and congressional committees — nor efforts to repeal ObamaCare are expected to conclude soon, and could therefore continue to hamstring Mr Trump’s agenda for some time to come and cut into his approval ratings even further.