Polls show that President Trump's personality is hurting his approval ratings

The president's tweeting may galvanize his supporters, but it isn't doing much for the rest of America

By Matthew Rozsa
Published March 8, 2017 9:45PM (EST)
 (AP/Jim Lo Scalzo)
(AP/Jim Lo Scalzo)

President Donald Trump has not had a good relationship with polls since taking office. More Americans began disapproving of his presidency than approving of it just over a week after his inauguration, a mark most presidents don't reach for at least two years, and he even tried discrediting his negative poll numbers as "fake news." Yet a new poll suggests that one of the biggest obstacles to Trump's popularity is, well, himself.

Although more than one-third of the people who watched Trump's address to Congress last week felt more confident in him as a result, it didn't ultimately translate into a meaningful increase in his support. According to a new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll, 47 percent of respondents approve of Trump's performance and 44 percent disapprove which, though an improvement from many previous surveys, is still well below most presidents' marks this early in their first terms.

While respondents tended to be split on Trump's policies (46 percent approved while 46 percent disapproved) and gave him high marks on leadership (55 percent approved and 41 percent disapproved), his temperament really brought him down. Only 30 percent of respondents approved of Trump's temperament, compared to 60 percent who disapproved. Similarly, 59 percent of respondents thought Trump should stop tweeting so much (including 40 percent of Republicans), while only 28 percent approved of Trump's tweeting.

Allegations of improper Russian influence on the president might also hurt Trump's approval rating. Sixty-three percent described the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election as either "very serious" or "somewhat serious," with only 31 percent describing it as "not very serious" or "not at all serious." Similarly, 58 percent felt there should be an independent investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia, while only 35 percent said there should not be.

Two days after Trump's speech to Congress, his administration was again dogged by controversy when it came out that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had misrepresented whether he had any contacts with Russian officials while working for the Trump campaign. This may have also played a role in Trump's unprecedentedly low numbers.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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