On November 8, 2016, Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote and Donald Trump won the Presidency. Today, five months later, no one is winning anything at all. A new Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows that President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any President ever in the first 100 Days in office – 42%, with 53% disapproving (also a record). A simultaneous NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll pegs the new President at 40% approval, 54% disapproval. Gallup’s is pretty much the same – his Real Clear Politics average is barely at 42%.
Clearly the President has not taken advantage of his honeymoon, having lost 5 percentage points in support from his election. He also has nowhere close to a mandate on the specifics of much of his program. Only 37% support his “major changes in government spending”, while a solid 56% oppose him. While 53% consider him to be a strong leader (to 45% who do not!), only 43% say that this Commander-in-Chief can be “trusted in a crisis”. A majority (52%) feel he cannot be trusted in a major crisis. He does receive great marks for “pressuring companies to keep jobs in the US” (73%) and 96% of those who said they voted for him last year continue to feel it was “the right thing to do”. Only 2% of this group says they have any regrets supporting him.
But most ominous of all: nearly three in five (58%) say that their new President is “in not touch with the concerns of most people”, which include 20% of his own Republicans and 59% of independents – a group who supported his run. And only 37% feel Mr. Trump understands “problems of people like you” – 61% say he does not. A man who was elected with a low sense of trust seems to be maintaining that sentiment.
But as low as his numbers are – and remember, the first 100 Days are supposed to be a universally-accepted grace period for Presidents – he is actually doing better than his Beltway colleagues. Only 32% in the poll say that the Republican Party is in “touch with the concerns of most people” and 62% say it is not. This number includes 30% of self-described Republicans and 68% of independents.
So throw the bums out? Well, you have to consider the other bums first. Two in three (67%) feel that the Democratic Party are out of touch with the concerns of most people – with only 28% saying they are in touch. Only a slim majority of Democrats (just 52%) claim that their own party can identify with most people and 44% feel the party is out of touch. Even worse for a party trying (I suppose!) to find its footing after a humiliating loss, 75% of independents say the Democrats are out of touch.
What can we make of all of this? First, both parties have achieved parity in distrust and inside the Beltway neither side gets it. GOP members of Congress hold town meetings and complain that the deck is stacked against them because the halls are loaded with Democrats. In 2010, Democrats complained about the same problem. Who knew that Congressional districts were supposed to include voters from both parties?
Second, it looks like presidential candidates should not be making bold promises any more. They cannot get any past their opposing parties in this milieu and there are opposition caucuses within their own party who oppose much of their agenda as well.
And finally, this is not a national malaise among the American people. Voters keep voting for change and get obstruction. They are speaking up again very clearly: a pox on everyone. Happy 100 Days, Mr. Trump.