Trump’s approval rating at all-time low as he prepares to leave office in wake of Capitol riot

Oliver O'Connell
·3 min read
Trump Presidential Records (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Trump Presidential Records (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Donald Trump will leave office with the lowest approval rating of his presidency, making him one of the least popular chief executives in modern American history.

Disapproval of the president has spiked since the violent assault on the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters on 6 January that left five people dead. The change in perception is almost entirely among Republicans.

The attack on Congress also sees Mr Trump enter the history books as the first occupant of the Oval Office to be impeached twice. The president was charged with one count of “incitement of insurrection” following the deadly mob attack on the Capitol.

The worst polling comes from Pew Research Center, which has Mr Trump’s disapproval rating at 68 per cent and his approval rating at 29 per cent, in a poll of 5,360 adults conducted between 8-12 January.

In the same poll, 68 per cent say that he should not remain a major political figure following his time in office, and 75 per cent say he bears either “a lot” or “some” of the responsibility for the violence in Washington.

Other polling companies – Morning Consult, ABC/Washington Post, Ipsos, and Quinnipiac – also put Mr Trump’s disapproval rating over 60 per cent in polls conducted since 6 January.

The FiveThirtyEight polling average puts Mr Trump’s disapproval rating at 58.4 per cent and his approval at 38 per cent as of 15 January.

Prior to the storming of the Capitol, the president’s disapproval rating stood at 53.1 per cent and his approval rating at 42.8 per cent.

The intervening week saw the sharpest change in perception of the president since his first month in office, when attempts at goodwill toward the incoming administration evaporated with the introduction of policies including the Muslim travel ban.

The Pew Research polling also shows that the steep drop in perceptions of the president is almost entirely among Republicans. The percentage that believe he has conducted himself poorly since the election has doubled from 10 to 20 per cent.

Only 60 per cent of Republicans rate his job performance positively, down from 85 per cent in early 2020 when the public rallied around the administration at the onset of the pandemic. The biggest drop has been since August when Mr Trump had a 77 per cent approval rating with supporters of the GOP.

According to Gallup, other presidents who left office with especially poor approval ratings include Richard Nixon (24 per cent), Jimmy Carter (34 per cent ), and George W Bush (34 per cent).

By contrast, Ronald Reagan’s approval stood at 63 per cent at the end of his term in office; George HW Bush had a rating of 56 per cent; Bill Clinton stood at 66 per cent; and Barack Obama had an approval rating of 59 per cent.

Joe Biden takes office with a relatively strong performance rating according to Pew Research, with 58 per cent approving of the job he has done in explaining his policies and plans to the American people, and a similar number approving of his cabinet picks and other appointments.

As to how President Biden will impact the way the federal government works, 46 per cent say he will make things better, 28 per cent say he will make things worse, and 24 per cent say he will not have much of an effect.

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