The fact that Donald Trump has hit historic lows in his daily job approval rating has become familiar by now — but how does he really compare to past presidents at the same or similar points in their terms? According to a daily polling average ranking of all polls taken during every presidency going back to Harry Truman in 1945, the answer is: not well.
According to the data compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s average approval rating across all polls stands at a dismal 41.3 percent. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, enjoyed a 61 percent approval rating at the same point in his term, despite the United States being mired in the depths of what has come be known as The Great Recession at the time.
Trump’s approval ratings following the failure of the TrumpCare health care bill last Friday have hit even lower lows. The normally Trump-friendly Rasmussen Reports poll, which showed Trump topping a 50 percent approval rating every day from his inauguration on January 20 until March 8 — even when other polls showed him in the negative range — gave Trump its lowest mark ever on Wednesday.
The Rasmussen poll put Trump at only 44 percent approval, with 56 percent disapproving of his job performance in Wednesday’s daily three-day tracking poll.
Another heavily Trump-friendly poll — once which had previously shown Trump over 50 percent during every week of his term so far — also sunk below the majority line this week. The weekly Politico/Morning Consult poll shows Trump this week with 46 percent of respondents approving of his performance in the Oval Office.
The Morning Consult result is another indicator that Trump’s standing with American voters was badly damaged by the health care debacle. But the results could also indicate growing unease over the fast-unfolding scandal involving Trump’s alleged contacts with Russian officials prior to the election — contacts that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now investigating for possible illegal collusion between Trump and Russia to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
An AOL News poll released on Wednesday showed that 55 percent of Americans are “concerned about the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia,” a number up somewhat from 52 percent a month ago.
While Trump’s approval rating in the FiveThirtyEight average is nearly 20 percentage points behind Obama’s, Trump also measures extremely unfavorably against any past president since 1945, when the first presidential job approval polls were taken.
In fact, the least popular president after 69 days of his term was the only president to serve without ever being elected, Gerald Ford, who was appointed vice president by Richard Nixon after the resignation of Nixon’s elected VP, Spiro Agnew, due to a corruption scandal on October 10, 1973.
Ford then became president — without ever having received a single vote in a national election — when Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment over the Watergate scandal on August 8, 1974.
Nonetheless, after 69 days of his unelected term, Ford had an even 50 percent approval rating across all polls — almost nine points better than the rating Trump must endure as of March 29.
The elected president other than Trump with the lowest approval rating, according the FiveThiryEight averages, after 69 days was George W. Bush in 2001, who stood at 54.8 percent. Of course, like Trump, Bush was elected without benefit of a popular vote majority.
Truman was vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and became president on April 12, 1945, due to Roosevelt’s death at age 63 from a cerebral hemorrhage. After 69 days, Truman’s approval rating stood at a towering 87 percent, giving him the largest gap over Trump of any past president.
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