All-Time Lows: An Opinions Column on the Current Presidential Administration

Author: Ellie Buerk

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Since President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the same words have dominated news headlines when it comes to his approval ratings: all-time low.

According to a Pew Research Center report from just 10 weeks postinauguration, “Trump ended the 2016 campaign with the worst favorability ratings in history.” At the time he took office in January 2017, his approval ratings stood at 39%.

On Aug. 14, 2017, TIME Magazine reported that President Trump’s approval rating had sunk to 34%. Only six presidents have had poll numbers as low or lower than the current President, including Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and none have had such low approval ratings this early in their presidential terms. Considering that he has only been in office for roughly eight months, these findings are nothing short of disturbing.

According to Dr. Darren Davis of Notre Dame’s department of political science, “while it is clear that students who identify as Democrats are concerned about the Trump administration, students who identify as Republicans remain supportive of the Trump administration, though not as strongly as they did following the election.”

This current desire to step away from support for the Trump administration certainly seems reflective of national trends, considering that since his inauguration President Trump has managed to stir up quite an impressive amount of debate. In a partial list of President Trump’s actions since taking office, New York Magazine noted that he fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, for “failing to demonstrate personal loyalty to him,” claimed London’s first Muslim mayor’s response to terrorist attacks displayed indifference over Twitter and shared classified Israeli intelligence with Israel’s “top geopolitical foe.” These are in addition to his highly controversial travel ban, his cavalier response to white supremacist violence and recent efforts to repeal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) which, if repealed, will put 800,000 undocumented young adults up for deportation, despite their having lived in the United States for the majority of their lives.

On campus, a shift toward disapproval for the current administration is clear.

“Last fall, Prof. Layman and I taught a course on the presidential election,” said Professor Dr. David Campbell, another member of the Department of Political Science. “While there were a fair number of Republicans in the class, relatively few of them were Trump supporters. My sense is that in the immediate days following the election, many Republican students were willing to give Trump a chance. After all, he is their party’s standard-bearer. As time goes on, however, I hear more and more of those Republicans looking to the future and alternatives to Trumpism, whether it be Paul Ryan, Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake. As for those who did not support Trump, he has done nothing to win them over and, if anything, has energized both the political left and center.”

Some may claim President Trump’s administration has been unpredictable, but I argue the opposite. His actions have been anything but unpredictable. Prior to his election, the list of offensive things he said and did was twice as long as the one above. While Americans may have been surprised he pulled out a win in 2016, they should expect his current trend of all-time lows to continue over the course of his term. 

The views of this author are not necessarily the views of Scholastic magazine.