Donald Trump officially becomes the 45th President of the United States today. Trump won the presidency despite miserable favorability and approval ratings throughout the election season. This speaks to the absolute disdain the American people held for the Clintons in 2016. Many people assumed Trump’s ratings would rise after the election finished. The post-election rise commonly occurs in American politics because the candidate proves themselves over their largest rival and unifies the country. However, this bump occurred only very briefly for Mr. Trump. He will take office tomorrow as the most unpopular president since at least the end of World War II.
Mr. Trump’s approval rating sits at ghastly 4o% on the day of his inauguration according to a an ABC News-Washington Post poll. Polls measuring inauguration approval rating have existed since Jimmy Carter’s presidency. President Reagan held the previous low at 58%. On the other hand, President Reagan’s unfavorable rating stood at just 18%. By comparison, Trump currently has an unfavorable rating of 54%. I think we all agree this is a massive and unprecedented gap.
Despite the poor numbers, Trump certainly has time to rebound. The first 100 days after a president takes office are commonly seen as the most important of his presidency. A president typically holds his most power at the onset of his term and can pass his signature legislation then. This survey shows the approval numbers of every president since Eisenhower after their first 100 days in office. President Clinton garnered just a 55% approval rating in the 1990s. To beat this dubious record low, President Trump needs to bring 15% of Americans to his side over the next 100 days. This is certainly not an impossible task, but it is an unenviable position.
Many Americans hold a deeply prejudiced view of Mr. Trump at the moment. He will have a difficult time convincing a significant portion of America that he is doing a good job over just 100 days. People are just too wary of Trump right now. Several months of good behavior and actions will be necessary to change the opinion of many Americans. Until, and if, that occurs, look for President Trump to continue setting the wrong kind of records for presidential approval ratings.