Halfway between his election and inauguration, opinion over how Donald Trump is handling his presidential transition is split down the middle, with 48 percent of U.S. adults approving and 48 percent disapproving, according to a new Gallup poll. There was a partisan split to the poll, conducted Dec. 7-11, with only 17 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents approving of Trump's transition — including Cabinet picks, tweets, and victory rallies — versus 86 percent of Republicans. Still, 48 percent is low by recent standards: At this point before their first terms, President Obama's approval was 75 percent, George W. Bush's was 65 percent, and Bill Clinton's was 67 percent, Gallup said.
The historically low approval rating doesn't bode well for Trump's early approval ratings, Gallup notes: "Transition approval ratings taken in December and January have tended to be higher than presidents' initial job approval rating after they were inaugurated," says Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones. "If the recent historical pattern holds, Trump's initial job approval rating after he takes office could be in the low 40 percent range. To date, the lowest initial job approval rating in Gallup's records is 51 percent, held by both Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George H.W. Bush in 1989."
A Pew poll last week also found Trump with a below-average transition approval rating — 40 percent approval of his Cabinet picks and other high-level appointments (versus 71 percent of Obama, 58 percent for George W. Bush, 64 percent for Bill Clinton, and 59 percent for George H.W. Bush), and 41 percent for how he has done in explaining his policies and plans (versus 72 percent for Obama, 50 percent for W., 62 percent for Clinton, and 65 percent for George H.W. Bush). This doesn't mean that Trump will end up an unpopular president, of course, just that he has his work cut out for him. The Gallup poll reached 1,028 adults and had a 4 percent margin of sampling error.