Society

Poll: Trump Most Polarizing President In Decades

| by Robert Fowler
President Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump

New polling indicates the perception of President Donald Trump during his first month in office has been the most polarizing for any commander in chief in decades. The data finds that Americans largely either strongly approve or disapprove of the new president, with a slim middle ground.

On Feb. 16, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 39 percent of U.S. adults approve of Trump while 56 percent disapprove. The data also found that Trump inspires stronger feelings among the public than any of his predecessors stretching back to 1981, and that he has significantly widened the partisan gulf between Democrats and Republicans.

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Despite having occupied the Oval Office for less than a month, Trump has already sparked strong opinions among American adults. Of those polled, 46 percent strongly disapprove of the president while 29 percent strongly approve of him. This means 75 percent of all respondents either approve or disapprove of him strongly, while only 17 percent feel either way less strongly.

Support for the president has Democrats and Republicans split more profoundly than any of his recent predecessors. While 84 percent of Republican-leaners approve of him, only 8 percent of Democratic-leaners feel the same. Before Trump, the most divisive new presidents along partisan lines since 1981 were Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both of whom only drew 30 percent support from their opposition party during their first month in office.

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Based on previous Pew surveys dating back to 1993, the data also indicates that adults in the U.S. have a dimmer view of Trump's character and competence compared to his recent predecessors.

Only 37 percent of respondents believe Trump is trustworthy, while 63 percent had viewed President Bill Clinton as trustworthy in 1993. Only 39 percent believe Trump is well-informed, while 62 percent believed that President George W. Bush knew his stuff in 2001. Only 54 percent believe that Trump is able to get things done, while 70 percent said the same of President Barack Obama in 2009. Finally, only 34 percent of respondents think Trump is a good communicator.

On policy issues, 43 percent approve of Trump's handling of the economy while 47 percent disapprove. Of those polled, 42 percent approve of his response to the threat of terrorism while 53 percent disapprove. On his approach to immigration, 36 percent approve of Trump's approach while 62 percent disapprove.

The new president scored best on following through on his campaign pledges. The poll found 60 percent of respondents believe Trump keeps his promises, while only 31 percent disagreed. He fared the worst on his temperament, with only 28 percent believing that he is even-tempered while 68 percent believe that he is not.

The majority of Republicans approved of Trump's traits except for his temperament.

Polling website FiveThirtyEight placed the Pew Research Center's mean-reverted bias marginally tilting towards Democratic. Examining Pew's research methods, sample margins of error and predictive success, it has given the polling group a B-plus grade for accuracy.

Aggregating the last 12 national surveys released between Jan. 15 through Feb. 14, Real Clear Politics found that an average 42.3 percent approve of Trump while an average 50.6 percent disapprove of him.

Sources: FiveThirtyEightPew Research Center, Real Clear Politics / Photo credit: National Museum of the U.S. Navy/Flickr