The US president has had a rocky start to his four-year term in power, but how have his numbers shifted over time?
Donald Trump came from virtually nowhere to win the Republican nomination and then the US presidency in 2016. According to polling at the time, his journey to the White House looked like an uphill battle. Against the predictions of many, Trump won a majority of electoral college votes last November. To be fair, Hillary Clinton won the most votes, suggesting that on the whole the polls were right, but America’s electoral college voting system can result in wrong-winner elections.
But how have Donald Trump’s polling numbers changed over 2017?
A quick look at FiveThirtyEights’ trend model shows a clear pattern. The US president started the year with a positive net approval rating, but the tables turned one month in, and since then the gap has been widening at a decreasing rate.
The latest YouGov poll (17th – 19th December) for example, suggests that 52% of Americans disapprove of the American president, fourteen points ahead of the 38% who disagree. In contrast, the first YouGov poll of the year put him on a net approval rating of +6% (41% approve, 35% disapprove).
Overall, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have worsened over the year although the numbers have been stagnating in recent months. At first, this suggests that Trump has little to chance of retaking the presidency in 2018, but a lot can change in three years.
As for how the US president compares to previous presidents at this stage in their presidency, in terms of net approval ratings, Donald Trump is the most unpopular president since regular polling began.
It’s impossible to predict how 2018 will go down, but the big test will be the midterm elections.
Republican success then will cement the Trump-strategy, but massive losses to the Democrats will urge Republicans to look at Donald Trump and think again.