Data collected by political analytical site FiveThirtyEight shows just how awful Donald Trump’s approval ratings truly are. Since his inauguration, the gap between his approval rating and disapproval ratings has widened almost every month. The latest YouGov poll (10th – 12th September) suggests that 52% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s performance while just 39% said they approve of it.
On top of this, the gap between those who currently approve of Donald Trump and those who approved of Barack Obama at the same stage in their respective presidencies stands at 14.3 percentage points (on day 237 of each of their presidencies). The gap between Trump and Bush on day 237 was 35.7 percentage points although it is worth noting that Bush’s approval ratings shot up considerably following the tragic terror events of 11th September 2001.
So, what good news is there for Donald Trump?
According to FiveThirtyEight, the proportion of people who currently approve of Donald Trump is higher than the proportion of American voters who approved of one other president at the same stage in their respective presidencies.
The proportion of poll respondents who approve of Donald Trump has been lower than the proportion approving of Obama, Bush, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Truman since the start of Trump's term. There was a brief period between days 131 and 139, where more people approved of Trump than Bill Clinton.
But currently, the good news for Trump is that more people currently approve of him than the proportion of people who approved of Gerald Ford at this stage his presidency, and have done since day 229.
On one hand, this is good news, as it is a statistical win for Donald Trump. It shows that historically, Trump is not the most unpopular president at this stage in terms of his approval.
On the other hand, Gerald Ford took over in unusual circumstances, replacing Spiro Agnew as vice president shortly into Richard Nixon’s second term before quickly becoming president after Nixon’s Watergate scandal. On top of this, when it comes to presidents’ net approval ratings (approval minus disproval) Gerald Ford’s rating at this stage of his presidency was higher than Donald Trump’s currently is.
Overall, the news might comfort President Donald Trump to an extent, but in the overall context, it’s only really good news in the relative sense.