There are a few different ways to look at President Donald Trump’s job approval ratings. They are the lowest of any first term president at this point in his administration. They are 10-15 points lower than those of President Obama when he left office. They about the same as where President Obama’s were in the fall of 2010 when his party was crushed in the midterm election.
I decided to dig underneath the top-lines to see how different groups of Americans viewed the job the president was doing thus far. Not surprisingly, Americans are deeply divided in their assessments of Trump by race, gender, education, age and race. For example, while 45 percent of men approve of the job Trump is doing, just 33 percent of women do. White voters with a college education give Trump a paltry 39 percent approval rating, while white voters with a high school degree or less give him a 61 percent job approval.
However, I wanted to see if this differed from the kinds of divisions we saw under President Obama. What I found was that the divisions have deepened - but not by much.
The good folks at the Pew Research Center shared detailed job approval data for Donald Trump and Barack Obama. I looked specifically at the early February poll which tested Trump’s approval ratings (the first of his presidency) and the early January poll which was their final poll on Obama’s presidency.
I took a look at how different groups of voters assessed how Trump and Obama were doing their job: men versus women; Baby Boomers vs. Millennials; white vs. African Americans and Hispanics; and white voters with vs. white voters without a college degree. Here’s what I found:
Race and ethnicityThere is a deeper divide today among Hispanics than there was when Obama was in office. In January, Obama’s approval rating among white voters was 22 points less than what it was among Hispanics. Trump’s approval ratings among Hispanics, however, are 32 points lower than they are among white voters. Among African-Americans, the divide is about the same (which is huge).
Obama: Gap between approval rating of African American vs. whites: +40%
Trump: Gap between approval rating of whites vs. African American: +35%
Obama: Gap between approval rating of hispanic vs. white: +22%
Percentage listed represents approval ratings
AgeThere’s been a small increase in the divide on age. In January, Obama’s approval rating among millennials was 15 points higher than it was among Boomers. Trump’s approval ratings among boomers is 20 points higher than it was among millennials.
Obama: Gap between approval rating of millennial vs. boomer: +15%
Trump: Gap between approval rating of boomers vs. millennial: +20%
GenderThe gender divide has grown under Trump. Women disapprove of the job he’s doing by a larger margin than men disapproved of the job Obama was doing.
Obama: Gap between approval rating of women vs. men: + 7%
Trump: Gap between approval rating of men vs. women: +12%
EducationThe education gap, however, has remained almost exactly the same between Trump and Obama. Obama’s job approval ratings among white voters with a college degree was the same as Trump’s approval ratings among white voters without a college degree.
Obama: Gap between approval rating of white college vs. white non college: +21%
Trump: Gap between approval ratings of white non-college vs. white college: +22%
Bottom Line Trump did not create the deep political polarization in this country. But, he’s also doing nothing to heal it. And, in some cases - especially on race, gender and age - the chasm has gotten even a bit wider under his short tenure. The longer term question, of course, is whether this kind of divide is sustainable politically for him and his party.