Party polarization is extreme when it comes to Trump

November 30, 2018, 3:00 PM GMT+0

82% of Democrats strongly disapprove of the President, while 56% of Republicans strongly approve of him

Democrats and Republicans are on opposite sides when then think about President Trump, and the divide may be at its most extreme today.

Looking at the President’s overall approval rating in the latest Economist/YouGov poll, over time his position has been stable almost from the start. Instead of the bumps and troughs of other Presidents as opinion reacts to presidential actions, President Trump’s graph is almost a straight line.

But that stability masks some differences. When it comes to those with strong opinions of the President, strong disapprovers outnumber those who strongly approve by almost two to one. And their number has grown recently.

In the latest polls, a majority of Republicans approve strongly: 56% describe their support that way. But that number is dwarfed by the share of Democrats who strongly disapprove. In this poll, it is 82%, the highest number in all the Economist/YouGov Polls taken during the Trump Administration.

At the same point in his first term, President Barack Obama struggled with the public. His approval rating had dropped to only a little above where President Trump’s is today: 44% in the November 28-30, 2010 Economist/YouGov Poll approved of how President Obama was doing his job. 50% disapproved, not much different from the 52% who disapprove today of President Trump.

President Obama has issues with his own party, which had just lost the midterm elections. In fact, the GOP gain of 63 seats is more than 50% higher than this year’s Democratic gains. In both years the President’s party lost control of the House.

Democrats didn’t rally around their party’s President with as much strong support as Republicans give Donald Trump today. Although most approved of how the President was doing his job, just a third of Democrats strongly approved. Republicans, however, were almost (though not quite) as negative about President Obama as Democrats are about the current incumbent. 73% of Republicans strongly disapproved of President Obama.

President Trump’s best issue area is the economy. He earns his highest approval percentage on that issue, and it is one of the few issue areas where approval outweighs disapproval (terrorism is another: 44% approve of how the President is handling that issue, and 40% disapprove). Democrats overwhelmingly disapprove, but fewer say they strongly disapprove than say that about his overall performance.

The economy is a bright spot. More believe the economy is getting better than believe it is getting worse. While Democrats disagree, as many of them say the economy is either getting better or staying the same than think it is getting worse. More than two in three Republicans say the economy is improving.

The change in party control of the House of Representatives puts current Minority Leader (and former House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi back in the spotlight. Democrats give her a thumbs-up when it comes to how she is handling her job. Nearly half the country may have an unfavorable opinion of her, but less than one in five Democrats do. When it comes to how she is doing her job, Democrats are more than three times as likely to approve as disapprove.

This is still some opposition to her return as Speaker, just as there is in the Democratic caucus. However, opposition is shrinking. In this week’s poll, there was more support among Democrats for her to remain as Speaker than there was last week. More Democrats are choosing sides, and support has grown while opposition has gone down. The margin in her favor has grown from 11 points last week to 26 points today.

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Image: Getty

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