On Sunday, following the release of a Washington Post-ABC News poll that showed just 36% of Americans approve of the job he is doing, President Donald Trump tweeted this: “The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!”
Garbled grammar aside, Trump’s essential message is this: My approval rating isn’t bad at all!
Except, he’s wrong.
To prove that point, I went to Gallup’s indispensable presidential job approval center and compared Trump’s standing (39% in the most recent Gallup weekly tracking poll) to the previous nine presidents.
Here’s the first comparison — going back to Bill Clinton:
Both Barack Obama and George W. Bush were far more popular after six months in office than Trump. Clinton was in only a slightly better place than Trump, the result of the firing of 7 employees of the White House travel office — aka Travelgate — that happened in May 1993.
Here’s George H.W. Bush back to Jimmy Carter:
Bush, Ronald Reagan and Carter were all in the stratosphere compared to Trump at the six-month mark of their presidencies. Worth noting: Bush and Carter went on to lose their re-election bids three and a half years later — a sign that you always need to be cautious about making predictions after just 6 months.
Then, finally, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford:
Of this group of nine presidents, only Ford matches Trump at 39% approval at the six-month mark. Context, of course, matters here: Ford had pardoned Nixon in the fall of 1974 — a deeply unpopular decision that badly damaged his approval rating in the early days of his presidency.
So here are the facts: Donald Trump is less popular at the six-month mark of his presidency than eight of the nine men who have held the office before him. He’s as unpopular as the ninth, who pardoned a president embroiled in the most serious scandal ever to hit the presidency.
That’s probably not something he’ll be touting on Twitter anytime soon.