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New polls show Trump's honeymoon is over before it starts

Donald Trump's unpopularity has no modern American precedent. Worse, it didn't have to be this way.
Then, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Then, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 22, 2016. 

Donald Trump enters office as the most unpopular of at least the last seven newly elected presidents, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds, with ratings for handling the transition that are also vastly below those of his predecessors.Forty percent of Americans in the national survey approve of the way Trump has handled the transition, half as many as the 80 percent who approved of Barack Obama's preparations to take office. Trump also far trails George W. Bush (72 percent transition approval), Bill Clinton (81 percent) and George H.W. Bush (82 percent) on this measure.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll offers very little in the way of good news for the incoming president. Trump's favorability rating is just 40%, "by far the lowest popularity for an incoming president in polling since 1977." His unfavorability rating is an astonishing 54%.The same poll found 61% of the country lacks confidence in Trump to make the right decisions, while 52% still believe the president-elect is unqualified for the office he's poised to take.These results coincide with a new CNN poll, which found Trump with a 40% approval rating, "the lowest of any recent president." Most Americans say the president-elect's post-election conduct has "made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency."Worse, by most metrics, Americans' impressions of Trump "have worsened since November."This morning's new polling comes on the heels of a Gallup poll that found Trump broadly unpopular in the country he's poised to lead, which itself came on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll, which showed Trump with a favorability rating of just 37%.There is no modern precedent for a dynamic like this.As we discussed last week, once a campaign is over, most Americans ordinarily extend support to the incoming leader. This year, as the public watches Trump's bizarre antics unfold during his transition period, the president-elect's support is reaching depths unlike anything we've ever seen.The consequences of this are real. Trump has a variety of unpopular ideas he intends to pursue, and though he has a far-right Congress to work with, he'll soon discover that presidents without political capital often struggle to get everything they want: lawmakers who are skeptical of the incoming president's ideas won't feel much pressure to go along with an unpopular and scandal-plagued leader.Finally, whether the amateur president-elect understands this or not, these circumstances were not inevitable. After Election Day, Trump could've taken steps to help bring the country together after a bitter campaign. He could've made bipartisan appeals. He could've conducted himself publicly with a degree of class, decency, and dignity. He could've shown an interest in getting up to speed on public policy and matters of state.But Donald Trump didn't do any of these things. The result is an incoming president, who came in second among voters' choices, who was aided by illegal intervention from a foreign adversary, and who'll face the opposition of most of the country the moment he takes the oath of office.