Washington, Dec 15: Americans are split down the middle on how they view President-elect Donald Trump’s handling of his presidential transition, with 48 per cent approving and 48 per cent disapproving. That is significantly lower than past Presidents, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday.
In sharp contrast, 65 per cent or more approved of the way the past three President-elects were handling their transitions at similar points in time, including 75 per cent for current President Barack Obama in December 2008, Xinhua news agency cited Gallup findings.
Trump’s rating is based on a new December 7-11 Gallup poll and gives an initial read on how Americans think the President-elect is handling the transition process, according to Gallup.
Trump has announced his choices for many of the cabinet-level positions in his administration, selecting many business and military leaders and relatively few with prior political experience. In addition, he has held public rallies in states crucial to his victory and weighed in on some issues on social media, Gallup noted.
One major reason Trump’s transition approval lags well behind his predecessors’ is that members of the opposition party are far more critical of Trump than they were of prior President-elects.
While 17 per cent of Democrats approve of Trump’s presidential transition, the ratings for current President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton among Republicans and for former President George W. Bush among Democrats were near 50 per cent, Gallup found.
Democrats’ low level of approval of Trump may foreshadow a high degree of political polarisation in his forthcoming job approval ratings as President, which has been the case for Obama during his time in office, Gallup found.
Trump also does significantly worse among independents than the past three President-elects did. Forty-six per cent approve of the way Trump is handling his transition, compared with 64 per cent for Clinton, 59 per cent for Bush and 75 per cent for Obama, Gallup found.
Trump receives a high 86 per cent approval rating among Republicans, but that is still slightly lower than approval ratings for Bush, at 93 per cent and Obama, at 93 per cent, among their parties’ supporters. However, it is similar to Clinton’s 83 per cent transition approval among Democrats, Xinhua news agency cited Gallup findings.
Transition approval ratings taken in December and January have tended to be higher than Presidents’ initial job approval rating after they were inaugurated. On average, recent Presidents’ transition approval ratings have been about eight points higher than their first presidential job approval ratings, Gallup found.
If the recent historical pattern holds, Trump’s initial job approval rating after he takes office could be in the low 40 per cent range. To date, the lowest initial job approval rating in Gallup’s records is 51 per cent, held by both Presidents Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George H.W. Bush in 1989, Gallup found.
In a little more than one month, Donald Trump will take office as the nation’s 45th President. President-elects generally enjoy broad public support during their transition phase, but that has not been the case for Trump — with as many Americans disapproving of the way he is handling his transition as approving of it, Gallup found.
Trump has a stiff challenge in winning over the public, given his low ratings, Gallup said.
Trump still has time to turn the tide and avoid starting his presidency with the lowest public support in Gallup’s polling history, but that would largely entail gaining the support of independents and, in particular, Democrats — most of whom appear reluctant to back him, Gallup found.