After 433 days, or about 14 months, of his term, Donald Trump funds himself at the center of several major scandals — in particular the Russia collusion scandal and the scandal over a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels — and perhaps as a result, his approval rating at this point of his administration remains the lowest since approval polling began in 1945, according to the polling average compiled by the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight.
Both the Russia and Daniels scandals saw significant developments that appear to threaten Trump on Wednesday. Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti filed a motion in federal court that would allow him to put Trump under oath in a legal deposition. If Trump were to be deposed, he could be forced to reveal what he knew about the $130,000 payment to Daniels, potentially revealing that the money was intended to help his 2016 presidential campaign — therefore making it an illegal campaign contribution.
Also, late Tuesday night, Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed court documents revealing that former top Trump campaign aide Rick Gates — longtime business partner of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — was in direct contact during the campaign with a former officer of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU.
The GRU is the intelligence agency believed by United States officials to have carried out hacking attacks on the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election cycle.
As the scandals close in, Trump has been able to maintain an aggregate approval rating that barely tops 40 percent. In fact, his approval number after 433 days according to the FiveThirtyEight average was just 40.2 percent, with 53.6 percent of Americans saying that they disapprove of Trump’s performance so far.
That number is lower than the next-least popular president since 1945, Harry Truman, by 5.2 percentage points after 433 days in office. Trump’s immediate predecessor, President Barack Obama, stood at 48.4 percent approval and just 45.6 percent disapproval at the same point in his first term in office.
Out of six new polls released in the past week, Trump performed best in the Rasmussen Reports poll, which has consistently seen Trump receive his highest marks of any poll. Trump scored a 45 percent approval rating in the latest Rasmussen daily tracking poll — though only 29 percent said that they “strongly” approve of how Trump has performed so far, according to Rasmussen.
By contrast, an Ipsos/Reuters tracking poll released on March 27 — one day before the Rasmussen poll — saw Trump in a far more dismal position, with only 38.3 percent saying that they approve of Trump, his lowest score in any poll since a YouGov poll gave him a 37 percent approval rating on March 20.
A new YouGov poll, released on Wednesday, saw an incremental increase for Trump, with a 39 percent approval rating.
Overall, in the average polling number compiled by FiveThirtyEight, Trump has seen a slight boost in his approval ratings since last month, when his approval number dipped to 39.1 percent on February 25. That same day saw Trump’s disapproval rating surge to a whopping 55.6 percent.
Trump’s approval rating closely reflects the popularity of Republicans in general across the country, according to a FiveThirtyEight average of “generic ballot” polling. The “generic ballot” polls simply ask whether voters plan to vote Democratic or Republican in the upcoming 2018 midterm congressional elections, without asking about specific candidates.
In the latest generic ballot polling average, just 39.2 percent say that they plan to vote for a Republican ticket, while 46.3 percent plan to vote for Democrats.