Trump’s ratings rise after victory, but still not as popular as Obama

© Kevin Lamarque
Although President-elect Donald Trump remains unpopular despite his victory, Americans don’t have buyer’s remorse about voting for him. Half of Americans are more confident in Trump’s ability to serve as president than they were on Election Day.

Trump received similar ratings in a Gallup poll as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did after they were elected, with 51 percent of Americans saying they were “more confident” in Trump’s ability to serve as president based on his statements and actions since he was elected. However, he still remains unpopular overall, with a 42 percent favorability rating ‒ far lower than the approval ratings for Bush (59 percent) or Clinton (58 percent) after they were elected.

A large part of that difference is because a far higher percentage of Americans (40 percent) say they are “less confident” about Trump’s ability to serve. Fewer Americans said they had “no opinion” or that Trump’s actions and statements made “no difference” to how they viewed the president-elect, according to the Gallup poll.

There was also a “massive shift” in how people view the direction the country is going in, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found. Republicans, shut out of the presidency over the last eight years, approve of the direction in which Trump says he will take the country. Before the election, only 7 percent of his supporters said the country was on the right track; after it, 27 percent say it is going in the right direction.

Those who voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton viewed Trump’s surprise win ‒ and its potential repudiation of President Barack Obama’s legacy ‒ with dismay, however. Before the election 54 percent of Clinton supporters said the country was moving in the right direction, now only 35 percent say it is.

The views of Trump and Clinton supporters nearly canceled each other out, but overall the percent of Americans who believe the country is on the right track dropped from 30 percent to 28 percent.

Regardless of how they feel about the president-elect, Americans are “still reeling” from the vicious campaign, a Washington Post/Schar School poll found. More than seven in 10 of those surveyed said the campaign made them angry, while more than half felt stressed out by campaign news.

Trump supporters’ jubilation over his victory was also drowned out by those mourning it. When asked to use a word or short phrase to describe how they felt about Trump’s election, 81 respondents said they were “disappointed,” the most popular word choice. “Happy” came in second with 61 respondents. The survey was conducted among 1,002 US adults. “Shocked” rounded out the top three words, thanks to 50 respondents, 30 of whom were Clinton supporters.

With the White House flipping from blue to red and Republicans maintaining their control over the House of Representatives and the Senate, Trump’s win could be seen as a mandate for more conservative policies to come out of Washington. That’s not how Americans view the victories, however. Fewer than three in 10 (29 percent) say Trump has a mandate to carry out his agenda, while 59 percent say he needs to compromise with Democrats when that party strongly disagrees with his policy proposals.

The lack of a mandate stands in sharp contrast to that of Obama after he was first elected, when half said he had a mandate.

In fact, Obama still remains popular, much more so than Trump. The outgoing president’s approval rating rose steadily over the course of 2016, and, averaging at 52.5 percent approval among polls, his rating is at its highest point since August 2009, according to the Huffington Post Pollster chart.

Obama is even popular among some Trump voters, or at least 17 percent of them, the Washington Post/Schar School found.

“That would mean about 8 percent (note: large margin of error) of Americans went to the polls on Election Day liking what Obama was producing as president but deciding to vote for the other party's unpopular nominee anyway,” Aaron Blake wrote in the Post’s The Fix blog.

Overall, though, more Americans stayed home last Tuesday than voted, so it’s hard to read the Election Day tea leaves and extrapolate them to the entirety of public opinion.