WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump is the first elected president in Gallup’s polling history to receive an initial job approval rating below the majority level. He starts his term in office with 45% of Americans approving of the way he is handling his new job, 45% disapproving and 10% yet to form an opinion. Trump now holds the record for the lowest initial job approval rating as well as the highest initial disapproval rating in Gallup surveys dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.Initial Job Approval Ratings of Elected U.S. Presidents
Dates of first poll Approve Disapprove No opinion % % % Donald Trump 2017 Jan 20-22 45 45 10 Barack Obama 2009 Jan 21-23 68 12 21 George W. Bush 2001 Feb 1-4 57 25 18 Bill Clinton 1993 Jan 24-26 58 20 22 George H. W. Bush 1989 Jan 24-26 51 6 43 Ronald Reagan 1981 Jan 30-Feb 2 51 13 36 Jimmy Carter 1977 Feb 4-7 66 8 26 Richard Nixon 1969 Jan 23-28 59 5 36 John F. Kennedy 1961 Feb 10-15 72 6 22 Dwight Eisenhower 1953 Feb 1-5 68 7 25 GALLUP
Trump’s inaugural approval rating is not much lower than the 51% recorded for George H.W. Bush in 1989 as well as for Ronald Reagan in 1981, but his disapproval rating is substantially higher than theirs. Whereas 45% disapprove of Trump, only 6% disapproved of the elder Bush and 13% disapproved of Reagan.
Many more Americans offered no opinion about the job performance of those new presidents — 43% for Bush and 36% for Reagan — as well for all previous presidents Gallup has measured, than do so for Trump. The lower percentage of Americans with no opinion of Trump could be attributable to changes in news coverage over the years, as well as the possibility that increased political polarization results in Americans answering more reflexively today based on their partisanship. Changes in survey methods, such as the shift from in-person to telephone surveys after Ronald Reagan, could also be a factor.