Donald Trump left the White House on Wednesday as the worst-performing president in modern U.S. history, according to four years of job approval polling from Gallup.
Trump’s job approval numbers hit a record low of 34 per cent in the latest Gallup poll, which was conducted Jan. 4-15, the pollster said Monday. That’s the lowest approval rating of his presidency, and it comes after he incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol over false claims about the election he lost. He was also impeached for a second time during that polling period for his role in the riot.
Gallup says Trump concluded his presidency with the lowest four-year average approval rating in history: 41 per cent. That’s the worst average Gallup has seen since it started tracking approval during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. It’s also lower than former president Richard Nixon’s average approval rating, though Nixon only faced one impeachment crisis.
Trump is the only president since 1938 to never win approval from a majority of Americans, Gallup says. His highest job approval number was 49 per cent, which he achieved on several occasions in early 2020.
Gallup says a president’s final approval rating is often “most predictive of how presidents are regarded historically.”
Trump also registered historically low numbers according to the latest polling from the Pew Research Center. He hit a low point of 29 per cent in Pew’s latest polling, and 68 per cent of respondents said they don’t want to see him come back as a political figure in the future.
Both pollsters pointed out that Trump’s numbers remained low but fairly stable during his presidency, and quite high among Republicans. The numbers reflect Trump’s divisive approach to politics, as he often played to a strong base of supporters while demonizing his critics and dividing the American public.
Trump’s popularity was at 39.2 per cent at the end of his presidency, according to the polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight. That’s the second-worst final score for a president since the Second World War, behind only Jimmy Carter in his last week in office.
The aggregate draws from over a dozen polls with varying degrees of reliability. Rasmussen — a pollster that Trump often highlighted for its favourable ratings — was the only one to list his approval at over 50 per cent.
Melania Trump also ends her time in the White House with the worst favourability rating for a first lady, according to a CNN/SSRS poll. Forty-two percent of respondents approved of her while 47 per cent did not.
The average popularity rating for a first lady is 71 per cent, while the average unpopularity rating is 21 per cent, CNN reports. Hillary Clinton was the second-least popular first lady when she left the White House, with 52 per cent approval and 39 per cent disapproval.
Melania Trump’s signature initiative over the last four years was Be Best, an anti-bullying campaign that frequently drew accusations of hypocrisy due to her husband’s actions. Melania’s campaign never seemed to impact the behaviour of the president, who used Twitter and the presidency as bully pulpits to attack his perceived enemies on a daily basis.
Melania Trump’s polling numbers took a major hit in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riot, after she put out a statement mourning the four dead attackers before mentioning the Capitol Police officer who was also slain on Jan. 6. The First Lady also griped about personal gossip on social media in the statement.
Donald and Melania Trump left the White House on Wednesday morning without ever greeting Joe and Jill Biden, in a major break from tradition. The outgoing president and first lady typically welcome their successors for a visit to the White House, and are present at the inauguration in a nod to the peaceful transfer of power.
The Trumps boarded Air Force One and flew to Florida rather than participating in the inauguration. He’s expected to spend his first night as an ex-president at Mar-A-Lago, the resort he has often described as his “Winter White House.”
That nickname will not apply to the resort as of noon on Wednesday.