Reporting by Casey Clarke, Fox News Channel
Partisans use President Trump’s approval ratings as evidence of his political clumsiness; some ideologues go further, exploiting his unpopularity to discredit legislative victories. In spite of partisan spin, the facts remain: Trump has yet to maintain a job approval rating beyond 50%. Whether attributed to controversy, scandal or his sometimes vulgar tone, Trump faces scrutiny from within his administration as an outsider; polls and surveys are a numeric expression of this.
Just this week, the so-called “failing” New York Times stated Trump has officially dethroned James Buchanan as the “worst president of all time” according to a group of political scientists. Opposite Trump, Barrack Obama sits high atop the list with a rating of 8. Other notables include Bill Clinton who is number 13, and George W. Bush, number 30.
In the echo chamber that is mainstream media, there is little discussion concerning Trump’s approval ratings amid his base of emphatic supporters. The same day the New York Times dubbed Trump “the worst president of all time,” the New York Magazine toted a much different headline: “Trump Now Trails Only Reagan among Recent Presidents in GOP Esteem.” This surprisingly positive headline refers to a University of Virginia/Ipsos President’s Day poll that ranks presidents 1-10. Parts of its findings are predictable, mainly that Trump ranks among the least popular of all modern presidents. Self-identified conservatives view him undeniably positive, yet his likeability seems to plateau beyond that. He is loved and he is admonished, as most politicians are. According to this poll, Trump’s popularity amid Republicans is greater than the Bushes, Ford, and Eisenhower; he is second only to Ronald Reagan, and many have drawn similarities between the two.
Despite all the grief that Trump’s dislike is immeasurable, there is the material evidence that the Grand Old Party is officially the “Grand Old Trump Party.” Trump's popularity amid self-identified Republicans (usually between 85%-90%) has made him the face of mainstream despite his populist underbelly. Trump’s successful conquest of the GOP is also evident by his job approval that outshines Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. The “anti-swamp” outsider is officially the leader of the political machine. Whether due to tax reform victories or other economic feats, Donald J. Trump and the GOP are inextricably linked. This idea contradicts far-fetched theories that an alt-Right Bannon wing or moderate wing will unseat Trump come 2020.
A more ominous reading of this poll speaks to the longevity of the GOP with Trump at the helm. Despite his tides rallying the party, Trump is still largely unpopular amid Democrats and Independents. Any gains he has in terms of approval typically come from within the party, not outside. To have a fighting chance for the GOP to remain in the majority in this hyper-partisan era, Trump must convey to those outside of his base that he is worthy. Amid all uncertainties in this tumultuous political culture, it is certain that Trump can proudly tout his rise from a punchline to the leader of a major national party.