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What’s Going On With Trump’s Approval Rating?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

Amid headlines about racist tweets, trade wars and hurricane maps, President Trump’s approval rating has dipped slightly since the middle of July. On Tuesday, it stood at 41.0 percent, down from 43.0 percent on July 22 in FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker. While his approval rating was at 41.6 percent as of Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, this is about as low as Trump’s approval rating has been since the end of the government shutdown this past January.

The latest poll from ABC News/Washington Post found Trump’s approval rating at 38 percent, 6 points lower than the president’s approval rating in an early July survey. The new poll also showed that net approval of the president’s handling of the economy is slightly underwater, with 46 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving. This is notable, as the public has been more receptive to Trump’s handling of the economy compared to other issues. The president has — at least in part — attached his reelection fortunes to strong economic conditions. But even more troubling for Trump is that the ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that 60 percent of Americans believe a recession is somewhat or very likely to happen sometime over the next year. And as my colleague Nathaniel Rakich wrote last week, even some Republicans are starting to sour on Trump’s handling of the economy, so a deterioration in attitudes about the economy and the president’s stewardship of it could hurt his overall standing.

However, as I wrote earlier this year, Trump’s approval rating has held remarkably steady. As of March, half of Trump’s approval polls during his time in office had him between 39 and 44 percent. Since then, his average approval has hovered between 41 and 43 percent.

Given the consistency of Trump’s approval rating, I wouldn’t read too much into the latest downward trend. It could tick back up a notch or two before too long. At the same time, his approval rating was mediocre, even when it sat a couple points higher, so steadiness isn’t exactly a great sign for Trump. If it doesn’t notably improve, Trump’s approval might sink him in 2020.

Other polling bites

  • A new Univision survey, conducted by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion, found former Vice President Joe Biden with a narrow edge among Hispanic voters across the country. Biden led the poll at 22 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 20 percent and former Cabinet secretary Julián Castro — the lone Hispanic candidate in the Democratic field — at 12 percent. The poll also looked at Hispanics in Texas and found former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke leading with 26 percent support in the Lone Star State.
  • The latest national survey from CNN/SSRS found that 36 percent of American adults think Trump “deserves to be reelected” while 60 percent do not. The gap narrows slightly among registered voters: 39 percent said yes and 58 percent said no. One silver lining for the president is that these results are somewhat better than the last time CNN asked this question in November 2017, when just 33 percent of adults thought he deserved to be reelected and 63 percent though he did not.
  • For Democrats, the ability to defeat Trump remains a top consideration when selecting a Democratic presidential nominee. In a new survey from National Public Radio/PBS NewsHour/Marist, 58 percent of Democrats1 said that a candidate who can beat Trump was more important than a candidate who shares their position on most issues. This marked an increase from July, when 54 percent of respondents said beating Trump was more important, and June, when 46 percent said this.
  • New polling from USA Today/Ipsos found that 37 percent of likely Democratic primary voters felt Biden had the best chance of beating Trump, ahead of Sens. Sanders (20 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (16 percent). And while 88 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would be comfortable having a female president, just 44 percent thought their neighbors would be comfortable with a woman in the White House, which could be troubling for female candidates trying to convince voters they can beat Trump.
  • Coming into Thursday night’s Democratic primary debate, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 55 percent of Democrats2 preferred someone who wants to build on the Affordable Care Act to expand health care coverage and lower costs, compared to 40 percent who preferred someone who would replace the ACA with a national Medicare for All plan. Among the broader public, 69 percent of Americans said they favored a public option for health insurance while 53 percent favored Medicare for All.
  • With mass shootings on the rise in the U.S., Gallup found that 48 percent of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” worried that they or someone in their family will be a victim of one. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the same in 2017, and 38 percent in 2015.
  • Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. A new study from Pew Research Center compared the experiences of veterans who served before and after 9/11. Pew found that post-9/11 veterans were more likely to have been deployed at least once (77 percent) and serve in a combat zone (58 percent) than pre-9/11 service members (58 percent and 31 percent). The report also found that post-9/11 veterans were more likely to have suffered post-traumatic stress (36 percent) than pre-9/11 veterans (14 percent).
  • Our neighbors north of the border officially have an election date: Canada will vote for a new parliament on Oct. 21. Polling shows a tight race between the Liberals, the current governing party, and the Conservatives, the opposition party — but the Liberals may have a geographic advantage when it comes to winning seats given their strength in Ontario and Quebec.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.6 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.7 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -12.1 points). At this time last week, 41.4 percent approved and 53.9 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.5 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -11.3 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.6 percentage points (46.4 percent to 39.8 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.5 points (46.3 percent to 39.8 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 6.3 points (46.2 percent to 39.9 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.


  1. Including Democratic-leaning independents.

  2. Including Democratic-leaning independents.

Geoffrey Skelley is a senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.