Speed Reads

Poll Watch

Trump's last three months set another polling record, and historically, things should get even worse

President Trump's average job approval rating for his second quarter in office, from April 20 to July 19, was 38.8 percent, according to Gallup, a drop from the already historically low 41.3 percent Trump notched in his first quarter and inaugural 45 percent number. The lowest previous second-quarter approval rating for a president was Bill Clinton's 44 percent, and every other president since John F. Kennedy was above 55 percent at this point in his presidency, usually in the 60s, according to Gallup's data; Barack Obama was at 62 percent, and as CNBC's John Harwood notes, Obama never polled lower than 40 percent in any week of his presidency.

More broadly, Trump's second quarter ranks 250th out of the 287 president quarters Gallup has polled back to 1945. Most of the 12 percent of quarters worse than Trump's were for troubled presidents — Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush — near the end of their administrations. And Trump probably should expect things to get worse, not better, at least over the next year, Politico says, based on its analysis of four decades of Gallup's extensive presidential polling data.

That's partly because of growing political polarization and historical trends — Trump's six immediate predecessors saw their approval rating drop an average of 9 points from the six-month mark to 18 months, according to Gallup data — but also because of the nature of the objections to Trump. Among the majority who disapprove of Trump, most cite his character and personality, not his policies, a departure from previous presidents and a situation that would make it harder for Trump to win over skeptics. Trump is also much more unpopular among independents than his predecessors.

From his first to his second quarter, Trump lost 2 points among Republicans, versus 3 points for independents and 1 point among Democrats, but he is still at 85 percent approval in his party — Republicans and conservatives are the only groups that give him above 50 percent. Still, for Trump to get above 50 percent overall, he would have to get the support of almost 100 percent of conservatives, Politico finds, or double his supports among moderates or quadruple his backing by liberals. You can play with various groups to try to get Trump above 50 percent support at Politico.