Presidential Approval Ratings Are More Partisan Than Ever

One party loves the president; one party hates him. It wasn't always like this.
cloudytronics via Getty Images

President Trump’s first-quarter approval ratings set a depressing new record. Forty percent of Americans say they doubt anything could change their minds about the president. And support for marijuana legalization is, well, higher than ever. This is HuffPollster for Friday, April 21, 2017.

GALLUP GIVES TRUMP HISTORICALLY LOW FIRST-QUARTER RATINGS - HuffPollster: “President Donald Trump received substantially worse ratings for his initial months in office than any other president elected to his first term since World War II, according to Gallup. Even presidents who’ve gone on to be unpopular generally enjoyed high ratings during their first months in office. But Trump’s average rating since Inauguration Day is just 41 percent, Gallup finds, making him the only president in their polling history to fall short of majority approval during his first quarter. Former President Bill Clinton, the next-lowest ranked, had an average approval rating of 55 percent for that time period, while former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush enjoyed first quarter ratings of 63 percent and 58 percent, respectively.” [HuffPost, Gallup]

An increasing divide along partisan lines - More from HuffPollster: “What sets Trump apart isn’t a lack of support from his own party. About 87 percent of Republicans approve of his performance, several points above the average for previous presidents and similar to the numbers Obama and Bush saw at this point in their presidencies. Rather, Trump’s ratings reflect the near-complete absence of support from Democrats, just 9 percent of whom approve of his performance so far. Americans’ willingness to support a president across the aisle has shrunk dramatically in recent years. This early in their terms, former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter all saw majority support from their opposing party, a feat that seems almost unimaginable in the modern political environment. But Obama still managed to garner the approval of about 30 percent of Republicans during the first quarter of 2009, while Bush saw a 32 percent rating among Democrats in the first quarter of 2001.” Another way of looking at it: Republicans are 78 points more likely than Democrats to approve of Trump’s job performance. Until Clinton took office, that gap was never above 50 points.

4 IN 10 AMERICANS SAY THERE’S NOTHING TRUMP CAN DO TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS ABOUT HIM - HuffPollster on a new HuffPost/YouGov poll: “Sixty-three percent of Americans who currently disapprove of Trump say there’s almost nothing the president can do to win their approval. Conversely, a relatively modest 24 percent of Americans who currently approve of Trump say there’s almost nothing he could do to lose their approval. That adds up to a combined 40 percent of the population saying that at just over four months into Trump’s presidency, there’s little he can do to change their minds about his performance ― 10 percent because they’ll never stop liking him, and 30 percent because they’ll never start….Among Americans who disapprove of Trump overall, 64 percent say Trump hasn’t done anything they approve of, according to the HuffPost/YouGov survey, while just 24 percent say that he’s earned their approval for some actions. Fifty-one percent of Americans who currently approve of Trump say he’s done nothing so far to earn their disapproval, with 31 percent saying he’s done at least something they disapprove of.” [HuffPost]

Trump’s “reluctant” supporters are largely still with him - Clare Malone, on a FiveThirtyEight/SurveyMonkey poll: “About 15 percent of Trump voters said they weren’t excited to cast a ballot for him. This group differs demographically and has different policy priorities from the rest of the Trump cohort….The biggest difference between the two groups is education level: 37 percent of reluctant Trumpers had at least a college degree, while only 25 percent of other Trump supporters had a college or postgraduate degree….But as of right now, reluctant Trump voters approve of Trump, and not even reluctantly, though at nowhere near the same levels of other Trump voters: 74 percent of reluctant Trumpers approved of the president, while a whopping 97 percent of more enthusiastic Trump voters approved of him….But there are danger signs for Trump and the GOP: Nearly 80 percent of Trump’s enthusiastic voters said they approved of his budget proposal, which essentially serves as an outline of the White House’s priorities. Only about half of reluctant Trump voters approved of the budget.” [538]

[INSERT YOUR OWN “RECORD HIGH” JOKE HERE] - Nick Wing: “Sixty-one percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a CBS News poll released Thursday. That’s the highest mark this particular poll has ever found, and it’s not an outlier. Similar surveys taken over the past year have shown that public support for legal cannabis is higher now than it has ever been before. Widespread acceptance of legalization ― itself a rejection of the longstanding federal prohibition on marijuana ― is a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S. The nation first reached majority support for legalizing weed in 2013, when polls showed slightly more than 50 percent of Americans favoring the move. Although approval fluctuated somewhat after that, a number of surveys conducted over the past year have shown support for legal recreational marijuana crossing the 60 percent threshold, with fewer and fewer Americans expressing opposition.” [HuffPost, CBS]

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FRIDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Quinnipiac charts President Trump’s approval during his first 100 days in office. [Quinnipiac]

-Morning Consult asks voters to grade Trump’s job performance. [Morning Consult]

-The Chicago Council compares Trump’s foreign policies against public opinion. [Chicago Council]

-Harry Enten draws five takeaways from the GA-06 special election. [538]

-David Wasserman argues that the GA-06 election results have been blown out of proportion. [Cook Political]

-David Byler takes an early look at Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race. [RCP]

-Geoffrey Skelley and Kyle Kondik lay out initial 2018 gubernatorial race ratings. [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]

-Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann argue that Democrats’ path to a House majority runs through the Sunbelt. [NBC]

-D’Vera Cohn explores a potential change in how the Census asks about race [Pew]

-Christopher Ingraham highlights a startling chart from the Office of Government Ethics. [WashPost]

-The Economist raises concerns about the consistency of French election polling. [The Economist]

-GOP pollsters Neil Newhouse and Erin Murphy propose an alternate question to measure support for Trump. [POS (R)]

-Marist finds that most football fans don’t want their favorite team to draft domestic abusers. [Marist]

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