US Election 2020: Trump’s disapproval rating reaches historic high

Only presidents GW Bush and Jimmy Carter come close to the current level of disapproval in Donald Trump at this stage of a term in office

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 03 June 2020 18:14 BST
Explosions heard in background as Trump speaks on George Floyd protests

Donald Trump has the highest disapproval rating at this point in office of any president since rigorous polling began, with 54.2 per cent of Americans dissatisfied with his leadership.

Only presidents George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter come close with 51.5 and 52 per cent respectively at 1,231 days into their presidencies, according to data compiled by Both lost re-election bids for a second term.

George W Bush came in behind his father and Mr Carter with a 49.5 per cent disapproval rating, as he headed towards the 2004 election amidst mounting disquiet over the Iraq War.

In terms of net approval, Trump’s current score of -11.7 points compares to Mr Carter’s -13.5; Mr GHW Bush’s -11.9, and Mr GW Bush’s at -4.8.

Mr Trump’s highest levels of disapproval actually came in his first year in office when he twice hit 57.5 per cent, according to the data. His greatest net approval is -20.8 points in the same year.

While GW Bush was disliked by a large percentage of the population, he was liked by a similarly sized cohort and further bolstered by a patriotic swell of support during the War on Terror and the initial invasion of Iraq, allowing him to secure re-election.

Mr Trump has neither of those advantages and his net approval score tracks much closer to Mr Bush Sr and Mr Carter.

As the 1992 and 1980 election seasons progressed, their respective disapproval ratings peaked at 59.4 and 57.8 per cent, and their net approvals bottomed out at -31.8 and -26.1 points — all historic levels for first/one-term presidencies.

By contrast, at this stage of their first terms in office, Barack Obama’s disapproval rating was 46.8 per cent and his net approval 0.3 points; Bill Clinton stood at 37.5 and 15.7; and Ronald Reagan at 38 and 15.7 — all went on to win second terms.

Ahead of the 2020 election, while Mr Trump has a fervent base of supporters, cracks are beginning to show from elsewhere in the traditional Republican voting bloc.

Seniors over the age of 65 and suburban dwellers appear to be increasingly leaning towards voting for Joe Biden, and others may not show up at the polls for Mr Trump.

As the US reels from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic; suffers the worst economy since the Great Depression; and sees nationwide protests about police brutality, polling shows that the public has little faith in the administration to handle the challenges facing the country.

An Ipsos/Reuters poll conducted on 1-2 June about the handling of the protests gives the president a -23 point net approval.

A tracker poll on the handling of the coronavirus gives the president a -10.1 point net approval. A further tracker on how worried Americans are about the economy shows 54.1 per cent ‘very worried’ and 32 per cent ‘somewhat worried’.

Second term data varies dramatically for those who manage re-election. Mr Clinton remained very popular throughout his second term, despite his impeachment trial. Mr Obama’s ratings show a partisan divide that typified the politics of his presidency, he struggled with a negative net approval rating for much of his second term. Mr Reagan maintained a positive net approval much of the time, but it falls close to zero as the Iran-Contra Affair comes to light.

The highest disapproval rating recorded belongs to Mr GW Bush who hit 70.3 per cent in his second term as public anger at the handling of Hurricane Katrina, the ongoing conflict in Iraq, and the Global Financial Crisis coalesced.

Richard Nixon is runner up with a rating of 61.8 per cent during Watergate.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in