The good news for Donald Trump: A lot fewer people think you’ll be a disaster as president than used to think that.
The bad news: People don’t like what they’ve seen so far. And even members of your own party continue to harbor major concerns about the man they’ve just elected.
A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows sharp drops — across the political spectrum — when it comes to those predicting the worst for Trump’s presidency. While in October 9 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters said Trump would be a poor or terrible president, just 64 percent say that today. Among Republicans, that number has declined from 30 percent in March to just 10 percent today.
Clearly the doomsday scenarios have faded in people’s minds.
But the same poll suggests Trump isn’t getting great reviews so far and still has plenty to prove. It also suggests people still want him to change.
Overall, just 26 percent of Americans say Trump is a good role model, and more than 6 in 10 say he’s “reckless” and has “poor judgment.” Fully 36 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning voters continue to describe Trump as reckless, and 34 percent still say he has poor judgment. Only 52 percent say he’s a good role model. Those numbers are basically where they were before, if a touch better. And many of these are people who voted for Trump, mind you.
In addition, Trump continues to lag far behind his predecessors on his approval rating and views of his transition process so far.
Pew shows just 40 percent of people say they approve of the choices Trump has to fill out his Cabinet and his administration. That process has featured a number of controversial picks, including Trump’s picks to serve as attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, along with his decision to tap other very wealthy people for many posts.
And just 41 percent approve of the job Trump has done explaining his agenda. Both of those are significantly lower than the last four presidents were at this point, none of which fell below a majority on either of those measures. And as recently as 2008, 7 in 10 approved of President-elect Obama on both counts, so it’s not like this is just a new reality of our partisan era; it’s apparently specific to Trump.
The data also shows that a majority of Americans — 54 percent — still say Trump has done too little to distance himself from white nationalist groups. This number includes 31 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters. This, of course, could owe to the controversy over another Trump pick, chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and Bannon’s ties to the so-called “alt-right.”
This number speaks to very real lingering concerns about President-elect Trump’s character and ability to be an effective president in spite of it. So does the fact that people have been urging Trump to be more cautious post-election, both on and off Twitter.
Trump has certainly enjoyed a bit of a honeymoon period as president-elect, and his approval rating has risen just as we expected it would. But that measure can also be pretty superficial. Even President Barack Obama has urged us to give Trump a chance, after all. And it seems Americans are heeding that advice.
But as for all the character flaws and liabilities that Trump demonstrated on the campaign trail? To many Americans, they’re all still very much there. And even many Republicans continue to hold on to those reservations. What’s more, little they’ve seen Trump produce thus far has truly given them reason to applaud. Trump won 46 percent of the vote, but his favorable rating was generally closer to 40 percent. The numbers suggest he’s still stuck around 40 percent, for all intents and purposes.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Aaron Blake