It's noteworthy that since the advent of national polling, no President started their administrations under 50 percent approval. It's due to several factors:
1) The President usually won a majority of popular votes, and still has those voters backing him,
2) There is a bipartisan desire by voters on both sides to wish an incoming President well and to hope for effective leadership,
3) Americans tend to be optimistic, forgiving and hopeful under most circumstances.
So how does any of that apply to Trump?
1) Trump did not win the majority of voters. He wasn't even close, with 3 million more for Hillary and when you throw in the Third Party voters Trump was under by 9 million voters with 45.9 percent (Hillary had 48 percent).
2) Trump (and the Republicans) ran such a bitter and divisive campaign - with Trump himself the most hated candidate in recent memory - that there is no bipartisan desire to support him.
3) The election result - where a broken Electoral College awarded the Presidency to someone a majority of voters didn't want - has created a numbed, shocked, angry response out of a majority of Americans (including non-voters) suddenly fearful and worried about our nation's present and future. This is anecdote on my part, but I can attest to a number of writers I know who are suffering depression and writer's block due to Trump.
We are three weeks in to Trump's administration and he's straddling 40 percent approval in the Gallup poll. His disapproval number is at 55 percent, and it's gone up nearly every 3-day gap in the polling.
Obama didn't sink to 40 percent approval until August 2011, three years into his first term. Dubya didn't sink to 40 percent approval until August 2005, his second term. Bush the Lesser was actually well in the 50s during his first year coming off a contested 2000 election. The response after 9/11 artificially bumped him to 90 percent for a week, but that was under terrible circumstances.
And if Trump has anyone to blame about his poor numbers compared to his two predecessors, he's only got himself to point at in that fancy gold-trimmed mirror of his.
We are living with a Presidential administration that's adept at one thing: Causing unforced errors that creates more problems than solves, and creating more headaches for a federal bureaucracy that has to clean up this mess.
By unforced errors I'm referring to a lot of the bad things - and things that haven't even happened yet - going on in Trump's White House:
- His West Wing is reportedly understaffed. Duties that ought to be delegated or shared out aren't getting done.
- The positions he's filled are staffed by people who are not experienced at those positions or are unlikely to learn those duties fast enough to be effective in crises.
- Trump's management style enforces competition between his underlings, creating factions who fight over resources and time. Trump seems to think this makes the best people thrive. But in government - where people have to team up and share to get large-scale projects done - all this does is sow chaos and create internal factions - in Trump's case between Establishment figures like Priebus and Pence versus the Outsider Fringe figures like Steve Bannon - that backstab each other and leak like faulty dams to a Beltway media always hungry for scandal.
The biggest unforced error was his Week Two attempt to placate his anti-immigrant supporters, issuing an Executive Order that banned refugees that had already been vetted from seven Middle Eastern nations as well as blocking the return of green-card-holding legalized residents from those nations.
This was a major mistake from start to (near) finish. The Order itself is a mess. It wasn't vetted with any White House lawyers, leaving it riddled with vague irregularities. As a result, it conflicts with existing law and - as the courts are finding - conflicts with the Constitution itself (flip to page 25 of the 9th Appellate Court ruling).
The Order made life miserable not just for American legalized residents but also Muslim residents from other countries, caught in the middle of travel to the U.S. for business or family reasons. That turned this into a major international scandal, with our supposed-to-be earnest allies like the United Kingdom - whose Commonwealth incorporates many Muslims and cultures affected by this disaster - publicly debating blocking Trump from official visits. The international outrage still hasn't ebbed.
The outrage here at home was immediate: thousands rushed to the major airports where Muslim travelers were being detained and protested like crazy. Lawyers offered pro bono services to those affected. If you look at that Gallup poll, you might notice the Disapproval numbers for Trump went UP after that weekend. If Trump thought he was going to get a lot of public support for his Muslim ban, he failed.
But that's a sign of how Trump is going to rule: Entirely on impulse, focused on brutal satisfaction to hurt others, and relying on his overwhelmed handlers to clean up the mess.
This is not effective leadership.
This is exactly what 62 million morans voted for when they backed an ill-informed, impulsive, ignorant bankrupt fraud of a failed businessman whose only success had been to trademark his name.
The reasons he hasn't been impeached yet are because the Republicans in the House need him around long enough to sign their impending disastrous tax-cut legislation, and those same Republicans are terrified of angering their party base still in love with this failure.
This means Trump will continue to misbehave. Even in the wake of losing his National Security Advisor Flynn to a major - and ONGOING - scandal, Trump won't learn. Trump will keep bulldozing across the landscape, whining about everybody else making his own poll numbers go down as he pulls off more outlandish and illegal stunts.
Who the hell is going to corral Trump from turning his weekend home Mal-A-Laugho into Spy Central? Who the hell is going to stop Trump's administration from constantly lying its collective ass off? Who the hell is going to keep Trump from insulting more of our allies and ruining more of our businesses to improve his own bottom line?
He's not going to win anybody over. He's losing whatever undecideds are left. He's already lost the 65 million who voted for Hillary. He's bound to start losing Republicans who actually care for things like competence and coherency in policy. He's polling right about where Dubya started losing people during the epic disaster that was Katrina... and Trump hasn't had his own Katrina yet. That is not a question of IF concerning this West Wing, it's a matter of WHEN.
This is going to keep going in a downward spiral.
This is not going to end well.
Update (2/16): Saw this on Twitter. Pew Research Center has this chart on how poorly Trump is doing with the general public:
Trump is double Clinton's unfavorables. And Bill still had 56 percent approval.