WASHINGTON — Two weeks after Election Day, most Americans say President-elect Donald Trump will ultimately do a good job as president, though fewer approve of the way he’s handled the transition so far, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.
A narrow majority (53%), say they think Trump will do a very or fairly good job as president, and 40% say they have a lot of confidence in Trump to deal with the economy, a share that outpaces the percentage who had that much confidence in Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan ahead of their first inaugurations.
That perception comes as majorities think Trump will achieve several of the goals outlined during his campaign as top priorities. Nearly three-quarters say Trump is likely to repeal and replace Obamacare, two-thirds think he will renegotiate NAFTA and 6 in 10 say he’ll create good-paying jobs in economically challenged areas. Separately, 63% say they expect the economy to be in good shape a year from now, the highest share to say so since September 2012.
Americans are more divided over whether Trump will “drain the swamp” and reduce the amount of corruption in Washington (51% think that’s likely), defeat ISIS (50% see that as likely) or build a wall along the border with Mexico (48% see that as likely).
All told, 66% say a Trump presidency will bring change to the country, but just 43% say it will be change for the better, twenty points below the 63% who thought Obama would bring change for the better in November 2008. That share has dropped precipitously among independents (from 88% for Obama to 60% for Trump), and among Democrats, even when compared to Republican ratings of Obama (49% of Republicans thought Obama would bring change for the better, just 22% of Democrats say that about Trump).
Trump’s favorability has risen post-election to a high point in CNN/ORC polling: 47% have a favorable view of him, 50% unfavorable. Though still tilting negative, those ratings outpace the previous high reached just after the GOP convention in July, when 43% saw Trump favorably.
Reviews are mixed for Trump’s transition so far, 46% approve of his handling of the transition, 45% disapprove. Those marks are well below approval ratings for Obama, Bush or Clinton during their transitions to the presidency. Only about half (48%) say that Trump’s statements and actions since Election Day have made them more confident in his ability to serve as president, while 43% say he’s made them feel less confident since upsetting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton two weeks ago in a win that few saw coming.
On one point of concern, few say Trump’s efforts have gone far enough to assuage their worries. About 6 in 10 say the arrangement Trump has proposed for handling his business while serving as president — to have his adult children run the Trump Organization — does not go far enough to prevent conflicts.
The poll suggests Trump is shaping up to be one of the most polarizing presidents-elect the nation has had in recent years. Alongside relatively high confidence in his ability to deal with the economy, there’s also an outsized lack of confidence and a diminished middle-ground, a pattern that repeats on similar questions. While 40% say they have deep confidence in him to handle the nation’s economy, 34% say they have no real confidence in him on that score, 7 points above the previous high of 27% for George W. Bush and nearly double the share who had no confidence in Obama on the economy (19%). Just a quarter fall into the middle category, saying they have “some confidence” in Trump.
On handling foreign affairs, a weak point for Trump throughout the campaign for the presidency, confidence in the President-elect is sharply upside-down, yet still, few land in the middle. Almost half (49%) say they have no real confidence vs. 27% who say they have a lot of faith in the president elect, just 23% say they have “some confidence.”
On both issues, Republicans are more confident in Trump’s abilities to handle them than were Democrats in Obama’s abilities or Republicans in Bush’s abilities on the same issues. At the same time, Democrats express far less confidence in Trump on these issues than Republicans did about Obama or Democrats themselves did about Bush in 2000. Even among independents, the share expressing no confidence at all has increased double-digits over either Bush or Obama. The trend means more people land on the extremes when assessing this President-elect, and fewer take the middle ground.
Overall, Trump ranks toward the middle of the pack on providing leadership and making appointments, but here too, his no confidence numbers far outpace those for his predecessors. On providing real leadership, 33% have deep confidence, but 43% say they have no confidence. And thinking about appointing the best people to office, 32% say they have a lot of confidence in Trump, yet 45% say they have no confidence in him to choose appointees.
These numbers could shift as Trump fills out his cabinet and staff; polling measuring confidence in previous presidents-elect was conducted closer to their inauguration after many critical appointments had been made.
Several demographic divides that emerged during the campaign appear to persist post-election. Women are less apt to see Trump as a good president than are men, almost two-thirds of whites say he’ll do a good job vs. about a third of non-whites, and residents of rural areas are more than twice as likely as urbanites to think Trump will do a good job. Among those in union households, a typically Democratic constituency where Trump had stronger appeal than most Republicans, 53% expect Trump to do a good job as president.
Overall, the share saying things in the US are going well today has dipped from its late-October high, 47% say things are going well, down from 54% then. That shift is mostly partisan. While there has been an uptick in the share of Republicans who think things are going well (from 21% to 32%), the share of Democrats who say the same has dropped about twenty points (85% to 66%).
About half of Americans overall say that four years from now, they expect the country to be better off than it is today, 46% say it’ll be worse off and just 3% say it’ll be the same. That’s worse than impressions of how the country would be after four years of Obama, but a little better than assessments of how it’d be doing four years in to George W. Bush’s presidency.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone from November 17 through 20 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.