With no end of challenges facing President Donald Trump as the year closes, it seems one is not the stability of his approval ratings.
In fact, Trump has enjoyed more stable ratings than any president in recent memory, according to a new Gallup report.
“To date, Trump has averaged 39% job approval as president, with his survey ratings ranging from a low of 35% to a high of 45%,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones reported. “The 10-percentage point range in Trump’s approval is the smallest for any president during his first two years in the Oval Office by a significant margin.”
With much of the nation focusing on the holiday season, and with lawmakers headed home to be with families even as the government is in the midst of a partial shutdown over a border wall battle between Democrats and the GOP, Trump’s approval ratings have barely budged.
Noting that there hasn’t been a “honeymoon period or a significant rally point” in Trump’s presidency thus far, one significant reason given for the lack of fluctuation in his ratings is the polarization of American politics.
According to Jones:
Americans’ approval of the job Donald Trump is doing as president has been highly stable, showing less movement than all previous presidents’ ratings during their first two years in office. His presidency also has been notable for the absence of two historically reliable patterns in presidential job approval — honeymoon periods and rally events. It is possible that Trump — and to a lesser extent his predecessor Barack Obama — have ushered in a new era of marked stability in job approval ratings resulting from extreme party polarization.
Obama’s approval ratings saw a 70-point gap between Democrats and Republicans, which was nine points higher than a previous record. That gap under Trump has averaged about 77 points.
Trump’s presidency has also not seen a typical “honeymoon” period, the usual high job approval rating presidents enjoy when they first take office. Jones also pointed to the lack of a significant “rally-around-the-flag” event that buoys Americans’ support for the president in a time of emergency or conflict.
But “record party polarization” seems to be having a significant impact on Trump’s ratings.
“One way to describe President Trump’s job approval ratings thus far is ‘unprecedented.’ Never before has a president had such low ratings early on in his presidency, and his ratings are by several measures the most stable a president has had during his first two years in office, a time when presidents’ ratings usually show a larger degree of variation,” Jones reported.
“Much of those ratings are a function of the polarized views of Trump, with Democrats giving him low ratings from day one while Republicans’ ratings have remained high throughout his time in office,” the report continued.
But, before critics blame Trump for the polarization as they have already done, the trend seems to have predated the 45th president.
But many of these patterns under Trump were in place before he took office. Polarization in presidential approval ratings began to expand under Reagan and has accelerated with each president since Clinton. And while Obama had a strong honeymoon, his support generally held in the 40s after that until his last year in office. Obama’s approval rating did not increase significantly in response to a number of events between 2010 and 2015 that arguably could have produced rallies.
It seems even as Trump’s critics continually attack him personally and await his downfall, his supporters are behind him because of his policies and his stand on the issues they care about.