President Donald Trump’s first year in office has not been a satisfying one for the American people. According to management consulting company Gallup, Inc., President Trump’s 2017-2018 approval rating is only 38.4%. This is the lowest average approval rating for a president’s first year since the company began measuring said rating in 1945–the same year that World War II ended. It’s also in the top 10 worst years overall.
The prior first-year record holder, and the only other president with a first year rating below 50% since 1945, is Bill Clinton, with an approval rating of 49.3%.
In contrast, the last president, Barack Obama, had an approval rating around 57% in his first year in the Oval Office (2009-2010), as did Ronald Reagan in his inaugural year in 1981. George H.W. Bush (1989-1990) and his son, George W. Bush (2001-2002), had approval ratings of 65.9% and 67.9%, respectively. The highest first-year approval rating is held by John F. Kennedy (1961-1962) with 76.4%.
While Trump holds the lowest approval rating for a president’s first year, he can at least take solace that he’s not the lowest-rated president period. That dubious honor goes to Richard Nixon’s fifth year in office, which ran from January 20 to August 9, 1974, when he resigned due to the Watergate scandal and his seemingly inevitable impeachment. For that period, Nixon’s approval rating was only 25.4%.
How Bad is President Trump’s Rating?
The first year of a presidency is known as the “honeymoon period.” This year typically results in a president receiving a high rating based on the promises made during the campaign trail–promises the new president usually establishes an intent to keep–because the public is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
However, Trump didn’t get to enjoy such a period, having began his presidency with his rating already below 50%. Given that there are still ongoing investigations determining if Trump won the election cleanly, it’s likely not surprising that so many Americans have doubted Trump since inauguration. From January 2017 to January 2018, the president’s rating would steady decline before sticking around between 36% and 37%.
President Trump’s Rating Across Party Lines
President Donald Trump’s low ratings overall are in part due to his first-year record low approval ratings from members of the opposing party. Only eight percent of Democrats are satisfied of the job that Trump has done so far, which is the lowest approval rating from the opposition party ever. The prior record was 23% of Republicans approving of the jobs done by Clinton and Obama.
The president is also not popular with independents. Trump only has a 34% approval rating among independents, down from the 60% average they gave to all first-year presidents between Dwight Eisenhower and Obama.
President Trump’s rating among fellow Republicans, however, is more convention. His rating among his own party in his first year is 83%. This is above the ratings of Clinton and Jimmy Carter; about equal to Bush Sr., Reagan, and Nixon; and below Obama, JFK, Eisenhower, and Bush Jr
“Trump’s First-Year Job Approval Worst by 10 Points, ” Gallup, Inc. January 22, 2018.