President Trump is rewriting the record books on his way out of office.
Just days after becoming the first president to be impeached twice, Trump on Monday became the least popular president Gallup has ever polled. Trump finished his term with an approval rating of 34 percent, Gallup announced, bringing his four-year polling average down to 41 percent, four points lower than any of his predecessors dating back to 1938. He’s also the only president to fail to register an approval rating of at least 50 percent at any point in his tenure.
Trump’s departing 34-percent approval rating — which comes on the heels of his incitement of a deadly insurrection at the Capitol and as the Covid-19 death toll continues to rise — is the lowest mark of his presidency. The only other president whose final approval rating was also his lowest is … *drumroll* … you guessed it: Richard Nixon.
Trump’s unpopularity is not breaking news. Joe Biden beat him by over seven million votes in November, largely because more Americans turned out to vote against Trump than had turned out to do anything in the nation’s history. The more pressing takeaway from the new Gallup release is another record the president set: the 81-percent gap between his average favorability among Republicans (88 percent) and Democrats (7 percent).
This is more than a little concerning. Trump led an inept and deadly handling of a pandemic, trampled the rule of law, engaged in open self-dealing and corruption, lied constantly, and revitalized American ethno-fascism with a steady torrent of racist rhetoric and action. Nearly 9 out of 10 Republicans have looked at that and said, “That’s my guy.”
It’s a problem that, unlike Trump’s hold over the nuclear codes, won’t go away Wednesday at noon. The overwhelming majority of Republicans think Trump has done a great job. Yes, he got clobbered by Biden, but 74 million people still wanted him to be president for another four years. Obama, by comparison, never received more than 66 million votes.
This popularity among Republicans is reflected in Congress, where not only do the vast majority of elected Republicans approve of Trump, they went on the record to support his effort to overthrow the election, and then voted against impeaching him in the wake of the insurrection at the Capitol. All of these people will remain in Congress for another two years at least. This too is more than a little concerning considering the role many of them played in leading the armed insurrection. They certainly seem like they’re going to continue to push Trump’s baseless claims about election integrity, social media bias, and a Democratic agenda built around turning America into a crime-ridden socialist wasteland, too.
In fact, it’s already started. “They want to digitally erase us online, pursue us in the flesh, make us unemployable and make it difficult for conservatives to be able to assemble and share ideas,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said of Democrats during an interview with Sean Hannity on Monday. “It’s not just like tear-rolling-down-the-side-of-the-cheek depressing,” he added. “It’s draw-the-warm-bath-and-get-a-sharp-blade depressing.”
This is pretty damn moribund, but it’s the exact type of divisive rhetoric to expect going forward from the lackeys Trump left in Congress. Trump may be on his way to Mar-a-Lago by Wednesday afternoon. Trumpism isn’t going anywhere.