President Donald Trump is the only president to have a negative net approval rating this early into his administration. | Getty
President Donald Trump has the highest disapproval rating of any newly elected president, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Friday.
Just two weeks into his presidency, Trump’s disapproval is at a historic 53 percent — higher than any president before him since polls began tracking it. With an approval rating of 44 percent, Trump is the only president to have a negative net approval rating this early into his administration.
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Trump’s approval numbers, however, are slightly better than they were a week before his inauguration, when he had a 40 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval. But his numbers have worsened since November, when as the newly minted president-elect he had a 46 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval ratings.
President Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor and California governor who previously held the record low approval rating at this point, tops the incumbent reality TV star-turned-president by 7 percentage points. Reagan had a 51 percent approval rating in January 1981.
President Barack Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor, had the highest approval rating. He sat an overwhelming 76 percent in February 2009.
Despite his low approval, nearly 8-in-10 respondents said Trump has handled the opening weeks of his presidency as expected. For 42 percent, that’s a good thing. But 35 percent said it’s a bad thing, and for 17 percent who said the early days of the Trump administration have diverged from what they expected, his departure from their expectations is also a bad thing.
Trump has opened his administration with an aggressive agenda that has included a number of executive orders and presidential memoranda. But he has harped on his historic election in nearly all of his public comments, proclaimed a war against the media, disputed reports that his inaugural crowd size was smaller than Obama’s in 2009 and told congressional leaders privately — without evidence — that he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. He has called for an investigation into his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
While Trump has positive net approval ratings for his handling of the economy and national security, a majority disapprove of how he has handled terrorism (53 percent), health care policy (50 percent), immigration (56 percent) and foreign affairs (55 percent).
Fifty-three percent of respondents said things in the country are going either pretty or very badly, and a majority of Americans disagree with some of the president’s top actions, including his travel ban and border wall.
Fifty-three percent oppose last week’s executive order temporarily barring travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, with 46 percent arguing that it makes the U.S. less safe from terrorism and 49 percent saying it harms Americans values by preventing those seeking asylum from entering the country. And 55 percent, counter to the White House’s characterization, said the travel restriction amounts to a ban on Muslims, which Trump proposed during his presidential campaign. More than 7 in 10 also said they not only believe that Islamic State-associated terrorists are already in the U.S. but that they also have the resources to launch a major attack at any time.
Trump campaigned on a massive border wall that he insisted Mexico will pay for (Mexican officials have repeatedly denied that they will), but 60 percent of respondents oppose his signature pledge.
The CNN/ORC poll of 1,002 American adults was conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 2 via landline and cellphone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.