President-elects tend to ride into office on a wave of positive popular opinion. Not Donald Trump. A few days before his inauguration, poll numbers show him performing poorly across the board since winning the election compared to his predecessors. A Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests Trump is the most unpopular president this close to inauguration of any incoming president for the past four decades, clocking just a 40 percent favorability rating.
Trump’s low numbers look especially bad next to Barack Obama’s 79 percent in 2009. The unfavorability figures aren’t too flattering either; 54 percent of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 18 percent for Obama.
Americans cited Trump’s handling of the controversy surrounding Russian interference in the election as the main reason for their disapproval. The Post/ABC poll also found partisan divides in response to the budding friendship between the president-elect and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, 74 percent of Americans want to see Trump’s tax returns.
When polled on a range of issues they expect the president-elect to do a good or excellent job handling, 61 percent of Americans thought Trump would excel in the economic sector, but they had the lowest expectations for how he would handle women’s issues, followed closely by race relations.
Trump is bristling at the findings. He took to Twitter Tuesday morning to express his displeasure, accusing approval ratings of being “rigged” just like the “phony election polls” that failed to predict his election win.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., a Trump supporter, went on CNN’s “New Day” Tuesday morning to offer analysis on the poll numbers, and said he thought the spat with the media had damaged the president-elect’s image. “What’s happening here is the public fight that Mr. Trump is having with CNN and other media groups has taken some skin off his poll numbers and it’s gone down,” Duffy said.
The approval ratings will have likely dealt yet another blow to the president-elect’s ego. Trump was rattled by reports last month after the final popular vote tally showed his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton outpacing him by nearly 2.9 million votes. Republican National Committee spokesman and future White House communications director Sean Spicer has also repeatedly touted Trump’s “overwhelming” or “massive” victory. Those adjectives have been contested. Trump won 56.88 percent of the electoral college — 306 votes in all — the 12th lowest out of 58 presidential elections.