Americans aren't quite sure what to expect from President Trump

November 28, 2016, 3:26 PM GMT+0

Americans are divided on what to expect from President Trump, and few think he has been consistent with his policies

Expectations for the Presidency of Donald Trump remain low. The nation is divided on their feelings about the next four years, as well as about the ability of the federal government - now controlled by one party - to work again. And the concerns about Trump’s abilities expressed during the campaign in many Economist/YouGov Polls remain. Even now, six in ten Americans say he is no more than slightly qualified for the job, and nearly half view him as not qualified.

There has been little improvement in the last week in how the public looks at the next four years with Trump as President. Nearly as many are pessimistic as are optimistic. And while 53% say they believe the federal government will work again with unified party control, 47% disagree.

Throughout the fall campaign, Trump’s temperament was a concern to many. It still is. Only one in three believe he has the right temperament for the job. Majorities see him as successful, smart, and a hard worker, but 51% regard him as “dangerous,” and despite his denials, two out of three African-Americans view him as racist.

Many Americans aren’t quite sure they know what the President-elect thinks and believes. More would not use the word “consistent” to describe him than would use that word. Just one in four say he has clear and consistent domestic policies.

And there have been some stepbacks by the President-elect from his campaign positions, positions that have the support of most of those who voted for him two weeks ago.

The poll was completed before Donald Trump’s Tuesday meeting with The New York Times. At that meeting, Trump said he would not follow through on the threat he made at the second presidential debate: to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. That was something his supporters favored. In last week’s Economist/YouGov Poll, 64% of respondents who voted for Trump said that was something they wanted the President-elect to do; 70% expected he would do so.

Trump also told The Times, contrary to his position during the campaign that he was “open” to climate change. One year ago, Republicans saw him as someone who did not believe climate change was occurring or that humans had a role in causing climate change. That coincides with the personal position of 63% of Trump voters today. But that is a minority position in the country as a whole. Nearly two in three Americans say climate change is occurring – and it’s at least partly because of human activity.

As for the Paris agreement to reduce gas emissions and limit global warming, most Americans want the U.S. to remain part of it. Just 16% would withdraw. And the President-elect’s own voters give him little guidance: as many say the U.S. should keep to its agreement as say it should withdraw from it.

The President-elect has taken to YouTube to explain what he plans to do on taking office. His YouTube message said little about Obamacare. But that is something his followers care about. 90% of them would repeal at least some of it; half (twice the percentage of the public overall) would repeal it all.

Trump has resumed using Twitter to send short messages to the millions who follow him. Americans aren’t sure the latter practice is appropriate for a President. Just over a third think it is.

A majority of Trump voters say their candidate’s tweeting is fine. But one in four of his own voters disagree.

The rancorous election campaign had one winner: opinion of President Barack Obama has improved dramatically. He is likely to leave office with approval from a majority of Americans. His approval rating appears to have improved as the campaign wore on.

That approval extends to at least some of the country’s biggest problems. 50% approve of his handling of the economy, and just 37% disapprove. 49% approve of his handling of health care, compared with 41% who don’t.

See the rest of this week's YouGov/Economist Poll

YouGov/Economist Poll archives