Americans Mixed on Whether Trump Has Met Their Expectations
by Justin McCarthy
21% say Trump is doing "better" than expected; 35% say "worse"
Trump deviates from expectations more than Obama, Clinton did
Half of Republicans says Trump has exceeded their expectations
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are split in their views on how President
Donald Trump's performance in office compares with their expectations
for him. About one in five (21%) say he has done better than they expected,
while more, 35%, say he's done worse. The largest segment, 44%, says
his performance has been about what they expected.
Americans' Assessments of Trump's Performance vs. Their Expectations
Overall, has Donald Trump done better than you expected as president, worse
than you expected or about as you expected?
About as expected
GALLUP, Jan. 2-7, 2018
These data, recorded in a Jan. 2-7 Gallup poll, come as Americans look
back on Trump's first year in office and as they await his State of
the Union speech on Jan 30.
Party identification strongly influences how Americans view Trump's
performance relative to their expectations of him.
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say Trump has exceeded their
expectations. Nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents
(46%) say Trump has exceeded their expectations, with another 43% saying
he has met them. Just 11% say he hasn't measured up.
Meanwhile, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (52%) say Trump has done
worse than they had anticipated, with another 44% saying he has done about
what they expected. Few (5%) say Trump has done better than what they expected.
Trump Outperforms Own Party's Expectations at Higher Rate Than Obama, Clinton
Gallup has asked Americans about how the sitting president's job performance
compares with their expectations on four previous occasions -- three times
during President Barack Obama's first term and once in President Bill
Clinton's first term, although none were conducted at the same one-year
mark as the poll for Trump. Obama's relative performance was measured
at his 100-day mark and twice in his third year in office, while Clinton's
was measured once, at the 100-day mark.
Overall, Obama and Clinton were largely seen as meeting expectations, including
62% feeling this way about Obama at the 100-day mark, and 53% to 61% saying
this about him in his third year. An even higher 72% said Clinton was
meeting expectations leading up to his hundredth day.
Reviewing the results by party reveals that Trump has defied expectations
on both sides of the aisle -- and to a much greater extent than was seen
with Obama or Clinton.
Nearly half of Republicans (46%) say Trump has performed better than they
expected, which is twice as high as the 23% average for Obama among Democrats
across the three measures for him and dwarfs Clinton's 15% among his
Trump is also unique from Obama and Clinton in that he receives a much
higher "worse" than expectations rating from the opposing party.
His 52% from Democrats is significantly higher than the 35% and 21% that
Obama and Clinton, respectively, received from Republicans.
Trump's performance as president does not conform to what Americans
expected from him as much as Obama's and Clinton's performance
aligned with expectations. His unconventional tendencies throughout his
campaign and early presidency are a possible reason why his performance
has not aligned with people's expectations, good or bad.
The finding that nearly half of the GOP-aligned responders say he has exceeded
their expectations suggests that many Republicans might not have expected
Trump to follow through on the tough talk he exhibited on the campaign
trail. He ultimately rounded out 2017 with the passage of a massive tax
bill as steady gains in the economy continue to be made
across a number of measures.
A major accomplishment that transcends Republican ambitions -- such as
striking an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal or solving the North Korea
crisis -- may be key for improved assessments among those outside Trump's
own party. Obama, for example, saw an immediate decrease in the percentage
of Republicans who said he was performing "worse" than expected
after U.S. Special Forces found and killed Osama bin Laden. This still
didn't result in more Republicans saying Obama was doing "better"
than expected, but it at least defused some of the acrimony against him.
Meanwhile, Trump's job approval ratings
fall short of what would be expected based on Americans' ratings of the economy
and the way things are going in the U.S. Abroad, esteem for U.S. leadership has
plummeted -- which could impact how he is viewed at home as he prepares for his
upcoming trip to the World Economic Forum.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted
Jan. 2-7, 2018, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older,
living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results
based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error
is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported
margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone
respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas
by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are
selected using random-digit-dial methods.