Given some of the fundamentals of domestic current events – most notably the lowest unemployment rate in over a decade – it’s tempting to assume a new president would enjoy reasonably strong public support right now.
That’s clearly not the case with this new president.
President Donald Trump did something illegal in his relationship with Russia, 31 percent of American voters say, while another 29 percent say he did something unethical, but not illegal, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. The president did nothing wrong, 32 percent of voters say.
President Trump’s campaign advisors did something illegal in dealing with Russia, 40 percent of voters say, as 25 percent say they did something unethical but not illegal and 24 percent say they did nothing wrong.
The president’s job approval rating dips to a new low, a negative 34 - 57 percent, compared to a negative 37 - 55 percent in a May 24 survey by [from Quinnipiac].
Quinnipiac’s Tim Malloy said in the report, “There is zero good news for President Donald Trump in this survey, just a continual slide into a chasm of doubt about his policies and his very fitness to serve.”
And while this is obviously just one poll, it’s not out of step with several other recent surveys that also show the president’s approval rating below the 40 percent threshold. FiveThirtyEight’s polling aggregator, which creates averages based on publicly available data, puts Trump’s current standing at 38.3 percent – the lowest point to date in his brief tenure.
At a certain level, all of this may seem routine. After all, Trump’s unpopularity isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. But the president finds himself in circumstances that are starting to resemble a crisis.
Clearly, the fact that former FBI Director James Comey has painted a picture in which Trump appears to have obstructed justice is high on the list of White House problems, but as Vox’s Ezra Klein noted the other day, it’s not a short list.
This is the 138th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, and what do we have to show for it? No major legislation has passed, nor is any major legislation close to passage. Of Trump’s major priorities, only 8 percent of Americans want the House-passed (and Trump-endorsed) American Health Care Act signed into law, and a majority oppose the White House’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
America’s deepest alliances are fraying, and Trump’s recent visit to Europe left German Chancellor Angela Merkel – a politician known for her understatement, not her overstatement – to say that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over.”
At the center of all this, Trump is running a chaotic and understaffed government. He has named nominees for only 80 of the 558 key appointments he needs to fill, and only 40 of them have cleared Senate confirmation…. Amid all this, Trump’s approval rating is down to a miserable 38 percent.
Or by some measures, 34 percent.
Understanding why Trump is failing so spectacularly is complex, but while it seems like the stalest of observations, it’s nevertheless worth remembering from time to time that when voters were given a choice between candidates, Trump came in second. He could’ve honored those results with some humility, but he chose a very different course.
Last week, for example, after the president withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accords, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the move, telling reporters the president effectively received a mandate to pursue this agenda from the American people.
“This is who they elected last year,” Spicer argued, failing to note that it was the electoral college that elevated Trump to the presidency, not the nation’s voters.
Trump, burdened by scandal, is pretending to have a mandate he didn’t earn, pursuing unpopular goals as if he’s beloved by the electorate. The result is a striking gap between what the American mainstream wants and what it’s receiving from the officials acting in their name.