It is the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration tomorrow, Saturday, January 20, and while he won’t be celebrating it, the 45th president of the United States owns the worst polling numbers in his first year in the Oval Office of any U.S. president – ever.
The most recent polling numbers do show the 71-year-old former reality show host – the oldest president elected in American history (70) – has made gains and is now polling an aggregate approval rating of 39.6 percent. But those aren’t good numbers and remain far lower than the prior worst numbers for a president in his first year, the numbers of the 38th president, fellow Republican Gerald Ford, (43.5 percent).
But the numbers President Trump has recently achieved are at least better than the 36.4 percent approval aggregate rating he bottomed out at on December 16. Those numbers are, in a word, dismal… but they do not represent his worst polling numbers.
Trump’s Net Approval Rating Lowest
This is the worst news for Trump: he has numbers well below other polling-era presidents when it comes to his “net approval.” Net approval is calculated by taking approval rating and subtracting from it the disapproval rating, which has dipped down to 59 percent and lower in some polls. As Bloomberg News reports, Trump’s net approval is -15.5 percent.
He stands alone there.
He stands alone because those numbers make him the only President with a minus net approval rating after a year in office (Ford is again second to last, his first-year net approval rating was +4.9). For you Democrats out there, former President Barack Obama’s first-year net approval rating was +7.1 (leaving the Donald 22.6 percent behind him).
Cherry-Picking Best Polls
All of this data comes from averaging all of the polls out there, with some individual poll results being somewhat more favorable to Trump, others somewhat less. The averages being used here were compiled on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website (though numbers on other polling data aggregator sites, like RealClearPolitics, are similar).
Thus far into his four-year term, Trump has either ignored his dismal polling numbers or cherry-picked the best polls, such as those from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports, and boasted about them, exaggerating as he goes.
There is an obvious issue with Rasmussen’s method of polling that the company has yet to correct. That is that Rasmussen only makes automated calls, thereby connecting exclusively with landlines, leaving out cell phones from its data.
Experts say that can skewer poll results.
“This matters because cell-only individuals tend to be younger, lower income, and more urban,” Washington University political scientist Steven S. Smith points out. “All of which bias landline-only surveys in a conservative direction.”
Given Trump’s polling numbers are historically unprecedented, in the wrong direction, it appears that now only the floor may be the limit. Or is that the case? After his first year in office, Ronald Reagan’s polling numbers, while much better than Trump’s, were nonetheless low.
Three years later, Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.