WASHINGTON - Public opinion polls indicate approval ratings for U.S. President Donald Trump are at a record low for a newly inaugurated commander in chief, a reflection on his performance during his first month in office as well as the continuing sharp political divide among American voters.
In the latest survey, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal said Sunday that just 44 percent of Americans approve of his performance, with 48 percent saying they disapprove. About a third of those polled said that Trump's White House performance showed he is not up to the job.
Two other polls in recent days showed similar results, with Gallup saying Trump averaged a 42 percent approval rating during his first four weeks in office, while the Quinnipiac University poll said he had a 38 percent favorable rating and 55 percent negative.
Trump did not immediately respond to the latest poll, but said on his Twitter account in early February that "any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election" that showed him losing to Democrat Hillary Clinton before his stunning upset victory on November 8.
Attacks on media
Trump's first five weeks in office have been uneven, marked by repeated attacks on mainstream U.S. news outlets for its reporting on his administration, a choice to fill a Supreme Court vacancy praised by Republicans and a legal setback when courts blocked his attempt to halt travel to the United States from seven majority Muslim countries.
NBC noted it took Trump just a month to be assessed negatively by American voters, while it was nearly three years into the first term of former President Barack Obama before his approval ratings dropped below 50 percent and into the fourth year of the first term of former President George W. Bush before his favorable ranking dipped below half of the American electorate.
The news network said Trump is the only president in the history of modern polling to begin his first term with a net negative approval rating, with most presidents early on in their White House tenures winning wide support, with net favorability ratings of 30 points or more.
Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll, said in a recent assessment of the new president's standing, "Donald Trump has skipped the traditional honeymoon period usually accorded presidents when they first take office. Americans, including those from the opposing party, typically have given a president a relatively high job approval rating until he settles into the job and makes moves that change their opinions. Not so with Trump."
Despite his negative overall approval rating in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Trump's support among fellow Republicans remains robust, with an 85 to 8 percent positive assessment. Democrats rate him almost exactly the opposite, with a 84-9 negative rating. Independents broke 44-34 toward disapproval.