President Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen 6 points in the last month and stands at a new low among political independents, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
Overall, just 36% approve of the way the President is handling his job, down from 42% in August. Among independents, the drop has been sharper, from 47% approval last month to 31% now. That’s 4 points below his previous 2018 low of 35% approval among political independents in CNN polling, and 1 point below his previous all-time low among independents in CNN polling, reached in November 2017.
Trump’s numbers have slipped amid the release of an op-ed in The New York Times and reports about the Bob Woodward book that will be released Tuesday. Both paint a picture of a White House in chaos, with staffers actively thwarting the President’s agenda. A majority of Americans say the writer of the op-ed, an unnamed senior administration official, ought to publicly identify themselves (58% say so), and 55% think it is inappropriate for an administration official to work against the agenda of the president for whom he or she works.
There are sharp partisan splits on both questions, with about 8 in 10 Republicans calling it inappropriate for a White House official to act against the president. About half of independents and about a third of Democrats say such behavior is inappropriate. Similarly, 85% of Republicans, 55% of independents and 43% of Democrats say the writer of the op-ed ought to identify themselves.
A scant 13% of Americans think most administration officials are working against Trump in the ways described in the op-ed, while 59% say that at least some are acting that way. Just 17% say it’s not happening at all, as the White House has claimed in response to the op-ed (that figure rises to 27% among Republicans).
The President’s favorability rating – a measure of whether people like him, rather than approve of his job performance – has also taken a hit in this poll, with 61% saying they have unfavorable views of Trump, up from 55% in June. That unfavorable number is the worst since he won the presidency, and it matches the worst level seen during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump has also lost ground on several personal attributes, most notably perceptions of his honesty: Just 32% say they see the President as honest and trustworthy, the worst read in CNN polling. About a third, 32%, say he’s someone they are proud to have as President, down 6 points since March and the lowest since Trump took office. Only 36% say he “cares about people like you,” another new low. Just 30% say he’ll unite the country and not divide it, matching his previous low on that measure from November 2017. Four in 10 say the President can bring the kind of change the country needs, down 5 points from March and matching a November 2017 low. And 60% say the President does not respect the rule of law, not significantly changed since March.
As on the President’s approval rating, the shifts in Trump’s favorability rating and attributes are driven largely by movement among independents. The share saying they have an unfavorable view of the President is up 10 points since June (from 55% to 65%), and there have been 10-point declines since March among independents in the share who say Trump is someone they are proud to have as President (from 36% to 26%), who cares about people like them (from 42% to 32%) and who can bring needed change (from 46% to 36%).
One interesting contrast in the data: Trump fares slightly better in perceptions of his ability to manage the government generally than his ability to manage his own White House. While 56% say he cannot manage the government effectively, more, 61%, express doubt that he can manage the White House effectively.
Comparing Trump with most other politicians in Washington on honesty, corruption, intelligence and how “in touch” he is, a plurality of adults come down on the negative side for each one: 45% say the President is less honest than most other politicians in Washington, 41% see him as more corrupt, 47% less intelligent and 47% less in touch. A smaller share take the positive angle on each one, with 28% calling him more in touch, 27% more honest or less corrupt and 22% more intelligent.
The economy continues to be Trump’s strongest issue for his approval rating (49% approve, the same as earlier this summer), and the 69% who describe the nation’s economy as good has held roughly steady over the past few months. The share calling the economy “very good” has been inching up over that time and now stands at 26%, up 4 points since June and the highest since June 2000.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS Sept. 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.