Is US President Donald Trump one of America’s worst in modern history?
A year ago, much to the surprise of many in America and further afield, US businessman and TV personality Donald Trump became America’s 45th president. His presidency has reflected his campaign: scandals and outlandish, rude remarks have dominated his time in power; but how does his first year in office compare to that of the previous seven presidents?
Data collected by FiveThirtyEight puts Trump’s current (17th January) net approval rating at -14.5%, with 39.8% saying they approve of the president and 54.3% saying they disapprove. Data collected further back allows us to compare Trump’s score one year in against the seven presidents before him.
1. Barack Obama
One year in, the 44th president had a positive net approval rating of +4.8%, indicating that Obama was more popular than Trump one-year in. However, Obama’s score at this stage in his presidency was one of the lowest in his first year as he started off with a net approval rating of +56%. Can Trump ever rise to Obama’s high levels?
2. George W. Bush
The previous Republican president had a staggeringly high net approval rating of 68.3%. The contrast with President Trump here is remarkable, however, Bush’s high score can most likely be attributed to the “rally round the flag” effect following the tragic events of 9/11 after which Bush’s ratings soared – at one point hitting a high of +80.5%.
3. Bill Clinton
Clinton’s presidential terms were sandwiched by Bush presidencies, with Clinton’s net approval rating at this stage being +20.2. Once again, the score of the former president is positive and significantly higher than Donald Trump's.
4. George H. W. Bush
As for the other Bush, this one-term president’s net approval rating was almost as high as his son’s, standing at 67.2% one-year in.
So far, Donald Trump is the most unpopular president one year into a presidency, but what about the others?
5. Ronald Reagan
One year in, this actor turned politician had a net approval rating of only +8.9%, nonetheless, it is much higher than Donald Trump’s. After securing his first term in 1980, Reagan went on to win another term in 1984 – can Trump do the same in 2020?
6. Jimmy Carter
Like Bush senior, Carter was a one-term president, however, his time in power was a stand-alone term surrounded by Republican wins while Bush’s was essentially Reagan’s third term in power as he was previously the former's VP. One year in, Carter had a relatively high approval net rating of +28% - much higher than Trump’s.
7. Gerald Ford
Nixon’s successor became president in very unusual circumstances having never been elected to the office of VP before taking over. Therefore, unlike the others so far, his “one-year in” score was not measured in the January. However, despite the unusual circumstances of his presidency, Ford had a positive score of +4.9%.
How unpopular is Donald Trump?
Compared to the previous seven presidents at this stage in their respective terms, Trump is the most unpopular president if data is to be believed. Furthermore, compared to Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman, Trump is still the most unpopular president one-year in.
Can he turn it around or will he be a one-term president like Carter and Bush senior?
At this stage probably the latter, but with Donald Trump "never say never" is a good rule to have.