A majority of Americans really like their president.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has been besieged with bad headlines about delivering a dark and radical inaugural address, about pettiness over his crowd size, over silly tweets and most recently over a botched “Muslim ban”—among other things.
So, a guy with low poll ratings coming into office must have numbers in the gutter by now. Right? Such a presumption is about as accurate as the conventional wisdom on election day.
A Rasmussen poll released Thursday finds that Trump has a 53 percent approval rating. That’s actually sort of low for a new president, but before his inauguration, he had a mere 40 percent approval rating. His disapproval rating is 47 percent, showing the nation is still sharply divided.
Much of that has to do with the perception of the economy, which half of Americans believe will be stronger a year from now. Just one-third had that prediction about the economy in a poll last October. Also, 50 percent is the highest since 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office.
Trump stepped back from what was going to be a Muslim ban to put a temporary freeze on immigration from seven majority Muslim war-torn countries. Although this has clearly been controversial among politicians, other world leaders, media and hit a snag in court, 52 percent of the public backs the policy.
Having been an entertainer and a guy who knows how to manipulate the media—despite his portrayal of being at war with journalists—Trump knows the power of images and perception.
On his first day in office, he took executive action on scaling back Obamacare, directing federal agencies to provide whatever relief it can to citizens and companies until the unpopular law can be repealed. A few days later, he instructed the Department of Homeland Security to get busy on the border wall—the signature issue of his campaign.
When he wasn’t signing executive orders, he was doing appearance with small business, big business, and union leaders, projecting that he is taking command to put the economic ship back on course. Most Republican presidents wouldn’t meet with union leaders, but the unions, in particular, were happy that Trump ditched the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with 11 other countries, signed onto by Obama, though never ratified by Congress.
The tweets at movie stars, digs at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Celebrity Apprentice ratings and constantly reminding folks about how big his November win was haven’t necessarily gone a long way in improving his gravitas, but, he certainly ended January looking presidential.
His East Room nomination of Neil Gorsuch was quite dignified. The only thing Trumpian about it was that it had to be in prime time. Importantly, he kept a campaign promise by tapping an originalist to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ultimately, Trump, not an orthodox Republican, seems to be mostly doing what most Americans want. This will, at some point, lead to butting heads with conservatives in Congress. For now, at least, the Democrats’ blatant obstructionism seems to be helping the new president.
The Rasmussen poll found 56 percent want Congress to cooperate with Trump, though only 44 percent believe the Senate should confirm all of Trump’s nominees.
Still, it’s not a bad first two weeks, all things considered. While it seems that the partisan divide is growing, more Americans seem to support the president.
Fred Lucas is a columnist for Political Storm and the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal. He is the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections” (Stairway Press, 2016).