There are two ways of looking at public opinion about President Donald Trump after his first 100 days in the White House.
The obvious view is that Trump’s marks at 100 days are the worst in the history of polling. He is the most unpopular new president in modern times.
The less obvious perspective is that Trump’s job approval rating is high given how unpopular he was on Inauguration Day and the turmoil, scandal, policy defeats and lack of legislative accomplishment since he took office.
The president has had few wins, the biggest being the confirmation of Justice Neal Gorsuch. But he’s had major losses on issues including immigration, building the wall and repealing Obamacare. Trump’s first National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after being caught up in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, which is still plaguing the administration. The president has flip-flopped on campaign positions ranging from trade with China to intervention in Syria.
Despite all that, Trump retains support from a 35-40 percent slice of the electorate that has been unshakable. Republicans in Congress are not abandoning the president, but nor are they overly compliant.
Trump also remains more popular than Congress. Trump’s job approval rating, according to the Real Clear Politics aggregation of polls, stands at 43 percent approve, 52 percent disapprove; the numbers for Congress are 19 approve and 67 disapprove.
Not surprisingly, public opinion on Trump is defined by partisanship.
Trump has not improved his standing with the opposition party and independents as most presidents have early in their terms. The only demographic group in the country that gives Trump an overall positive grade is white voters with no college education.
According to CBS News, 88 percent of Democrat respondents disapprove of Trump, while 83 percent of Republican respondents approve of the job he’s doing. Independents disapprove by 52 percent. Trump’s core support is zealous, but so is his opposition; 53 percent of Democrats polled said they are scared of Trump.
Trump’s great failure in his first 100 days was the bungled effort to keep his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. Ironically, an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken days before the 100-day mark found that 61 percent want to “keep and improve” the Affordable Care Act health insurance program, while 37 percent want to “repeal and replace” it.
Voters are giving Trump low marks for what he has done as well. The same ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 61 percent disapprove of Trump’s appointments of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to official White House jobs.
Polling by PRRI, a policy research group that focuses on religion and values, reveals that the president’s most high-profile initiatives have not been well-received by voters. Large majorities disapprove of the entry ban on visitors from six Muslim states that is now stalled in the courts, building the wall against Mexico and refusing Syrian refugees entry into the U.S.
Voter assessments of Trump do not appear to be improving since the inauguration. A February poll by Gallup found that 62 percent said they thought Trump keeps his promises; that number dropped to 45 percent by April.
Overall, views of Trump are highly polarized and partisan, as they always have been. Becoming commander in chief and moving into the White House has not substantially changed the public’s view of Trump. His detractors are boosted by polls that consistently show Trump to be the most unpopular new president since polling in politics became commonplace. His loyal backers think the popularity numbers could be much worse given how much the Washington “swamp” has stymied a president they see as a radical champion for their cause.