Donald Trump’s approval ratings: how bad are they?

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been US president for almost 200 days, but how do his approval ratings compare to other presidents at this stage of their presidency?

According to FiveThirtyEight, the latest US opinion poll gives Trump a net approval rating of -17% (Gallup 6th-8th June).

39% of respondents in the poll said they approve of Donald Trump whereas 56% said they disapprove.

Data on FiveThirtyEight indicates that briefly, at the start of his presidency, Trump’s net approval ratings were positive, but since February the general trend indicates a negative approval rating overall.

Most recent opinion polls, according to FiveThirtyEight, have given Trump negative approval ratings, indicating that more Americans are dissatisfied than satisfied with his performance.

But how does Trump’s performance so far compare to other US presidents?

FiveThirtyEight's data collection allows us to compare Trump's approval ratings with other presidents at this stage in their presidency. 

Barack Obama (2009 – 2017)

At this stage in his presidency, Barack Obama’s net approval ratings were positive, and thus higher than Donald Trump’s. On day 171 of each of their presidency’s (10th July 2017 for Trump), FiveThirtyEight puts Trump’s net approval rating at -16% compared to +21.1% for Obama.

That’s a difference of 37 percentage points.

George W. Bush (2001 – 2009)

The last Republican president before Donald Trump had generally positive net approval ratings at the start of his term. They spiked after 9/11 then fell almost continuously throughout the rest of his term.

On day 171 of his presidency his net approval rating was +16.6%, over 32 percentage points higher than the current president's.

Bill Clinton (1993 - 2001)

Having started off with relative high positive net approval ratings by day 171, Clinton’s net approval ratings stood at +0.4. Before that there were some negative approval ratings, but they soon recovered and remained mostly positive for the rest of his time in office.

The difference between Clinton and Trump at this stage was just over 16 percentage points.


Approval ratings for Bush senior, Reagan and Carter were all positive at this stage in their presidency.

You have to go back as far as Gerald Ford, who took over from Richard Nixon in extraordinary circumstances to find a president with a negative net approval rating at this stage in their presidency – with the exception of Clinton’s dips before day 171.

On day 171, Ford had a net approval rating of -6.4% - over 22 percentage points higher than Donald Trump’s current rating.

What next for Donald Trump?

The current president has the lowest approval ratings of any of his recent predecessors at this stage of his and their presidencies.

This does not bode well for a 2020 re-election bid, but he has some way to go to fall as low as George W. Bush who ended his presidency with net approval ratings around the -40% mark.


All statistics are from the FiveThirtyEight website. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight correctly predicted how each state would vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to the Guardian.