Four tumultuous weeks after Donald Trump took office, the American public’s initial impressions of the new president are strongly felt, deeply polarized and far more negative than positive, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.
The survey published in Washington on Thursday finds that Trump’s overall job approval is much lower than those of prior presidents in their first weeks in office: 39% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove.
The intensity of the public’s early views of Trump is striking: Fully 75% either approve or disapprove of Trump strongly, compared with just 17% who feel less strongly. Nearly half (46%) strongly disapprove of his job performance, while 29% strongly approve.
This level of strong disapproval already surpasses strong disapproval for Barack Obama at any point during the eight years of his presidency. The only occasion when strong disapproval of George W. Bush was higher than for Trump currently was in December 2008, near the end of his presidency.
And while all presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan initially attracted at least modest support from the opposing party, Trump gets almost none. Just 8% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents approve of his job performance – by far the lowest rating for any new president from the opposing party in more than three decades.
By contrast, 84% of Republicans and Republican leaners approve of the way he is handling his job as president, which is in line with the support past presidents received from their own parties.
The survey also finds that opinion about Trump’s highest profile policy proposal to date – his executive order limiting entry to the US by refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries – is similar to his overall job approval. About four in ten (38%) approve of this policy, while 59% disapprove.
The public has a more critical view of how this executive order, which has been blocked by the courts, was implemented. Just 28% say that, regardless of their view of the policy, they believe the administration did an excellent or good job of communicating the order and putting it into effect.
By contrast, 17% say the administration did only a fair job of implementing the policy, while 53% say it did a poor job in this regard.
The public’s views of the American economy – both current and future conditions – continue to be relatively positive. Currently, 42% rate economic conditions as excellent or good, up 11 percentage points since December.
The share of Republicans who take a positive view of economic conditions has nearly tripled since then, from 14% to 40%, while holding more stable among Democrats. As in December, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to expect economic conditions to improve (75% vs. 14%).
The public gives positive marks to Trump on keeping his promises (60% say he does this) and his ability to get things done (54%).
However, on seven other traits and characteristics – ranging from his temperament to whether he is trustworthy – he is viewed more negatively.
Just 37% say he is trustworthy. At similar points in their presidencies, majorities said Barack Obama (76%), George W. Bush (60%) and Bill Clinton (63%) were trustworthy.
As was the case in October, during the campaign, a majority of Americans (59%) say Trump has not too much (25%) or no respect at all (34%) for the nation’s democratic institutions and traditions; 40% say he has a great deal (18%) or fair amount (22%) of respect for democratic institutions.
Many lack confidence that Trump keeps his business interests separate from the job. Four in ten say they are either very (24%) or somewhat (16%) confident that Trump keeps his business interests separate from the decisions he makes as president.
Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they are either not too (15%) or not at all (43%) confident that he is doing this.
The survey was conducted Feb. 7-12 among 1,503 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for results based on the full sample.