On Tuesday, two polls continued to show the public giving low marks to President-elect Donald Trump’s handling of the transition. Trump responded in his classic style, by denouncing the polls as “rigged,” via Twitter.
“The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017
Two polls came out with nearly identical numbers Tuesday, which perhaps lends some credence to the president-elect’s complaint.
A CNN/ORC poll Tuesday found that 40 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the transition, while 52 percent disapprove.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll the same day also had Trump’s transition approval at 40 percent, with 54 percent disapproving. Naturally, the partisan split was extremely clear: 11 percent of Democrats approved, while 84 percent disapproved. On the flip side, 77 percent of Republicans approved, while only 18 percent disapproved. Independents leaned slightly against, with 42 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving.
The Post‘s Aaron Blake fleshed out the numbers, comparing Trump’s low approval rating to the high rates of previous presidents.
Pre-inauguration favorable numbers for the six presidents before Trump were all significantly higher than their share of the popular vote, while Trump’s numbers are below.
In early 2009, 79 percent approved of President Barack Obama’s transition, while only 18 percent viewed it unfavorably. This was 26 percent higher than Obama’s popular vote, at 53 percent. Even George W. Bush, who had the highest unfavorable rating (at 36 percent), still had a 62 percent favorable rating.
These polls might prove largely meaningless, however. Next to Obama’s, the most popular presidential transition belonged to President Jimmy Carter. Seventy-eight percent of Americans viewed Carter’s transition favorably, while only 9 percent said they had an unfavorable impression.
Carter famously lost his re-election campaign in 1980, to the budding star Ronald Reagan, whose transition was the second least popular: only 58 percent had a favorable impression of it, while 18 percent had an unfavorable one. Despite having a less favorable transition than Carter, either Bush, Clinton, or Obama, Reagan won re-election in an astonishing landslide in 1984, taking every state but one.
President-elect Trump comes to the office with more baggage (and more ended marriages) than any president before him. Despite his bravado, he did lose the popular vote, and his approval ratings have been low throughout the campaign. In fact, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only become more unpopular than him a mere week before the election. Nevertheless, after the election, Trump’s popularity — and more importantly, consumer confidence — soared.
Democrats and the liberal press are salivating to write the obituary to Trump’s presidency, but that bias is one of the reasons he won in the first place. Ironically, it might help his approval rise throughout his presidency.