Donald Trump has a popularity problem


Donald Trump is the most unpopular he has been since February 2021, according to analysis by polling website FiveThirtyEight, as the former president steps up his bid to return to the White House.

Some 56.3 percent of Americans had an “unfavorable” view of Trump on July 12, versus just 40 percent who were “favorable,” according to the analysis, giving the Republican firebrand a net approval rating of -16.3. That’s the worst figure FiveThirtyEight has given him since February 19, 2021, when he had a net approval rating of -16.4.

Trump is running to be the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, with polling giving him a commanding lead over his nearest rival. This potentially sets up a re-run of the last election, despite surveys showing the majority of Americans don’t want either candidate to stand again.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s unpopularity peak was in January 2021, in the immediate aftermath of hundreds of his supporters storming Congress in a bid to stop the 2020 presidential election result being ratified. At that point, 57.9 percent of Americans disapproved of his performance, versus 38.6 percent who approved. Trump’s ratings then recovered somewhat, peaking on April 19, 2022, when 42.9 percent of Americans approved of his performance, versus 52.5 percent who disapproved, giving him a net rating of -9.5.

Former president Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks at the Turning Point Action USA conference in West Palm Beach, Florida, on July 15, 2023. Trump is at his least popular since February 2021, according to figures from polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight.

For its analysis, FiveThirtyEight combines the data from polls that meet its basic criteria for inclusion, then it adjusts the results to take account of survey size, pollster reliability and when the polls were conducted.

Speaking to Newsweek, Julie Norman, co-director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London, said it’s remarkable how Trump has managed to hold onto his base.

She said: “In general, I would say that Trump has always been polarizing. A majority of the country has seen him as unfavorable for quite some time, and if that increases, it doesn’t bode well for Trump in a general election.

“However, I’m perhaps more interested in the 40 percent approval rating for Trump, which has stayed relatively constant since he left office. It indicates how Trump has managed to hold on strongly to his base, giving him a wide lead in GOP primary polls, where he remains very much the frontrunner.”

Newsweek has contacted Donald Trump for comment via the press contact form on his official website.

The rise in Trump’s unpopularity has coincided with a wave of legal difficulties for the former president. In March, the GOP frontrunner was indicted on charges related to his alleged payment of hush money to former pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, all of which he denies. Trump then pleaded not guilty to 37 federal offenses in June, related to claims he unlawfully retained classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago private members club. A New York jury also concluded Trump had sexually abused writer E. Jean Carroll in a civil case, in which the former president also denied any wrongdoing.


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