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Trump is the most despised president in modern American history


That is, adjusted for context (and by a mile).

Since the dawn of modern polling in the 1950s, here are the approval ratings of presidents at the end of their first calendar year in office:

Bush II 86%

Kennedy 77%

Bush I 71%

Ike 69%

Nixon 59%

Carter 57%

Clinton 55%

Obama 52%

Reagan 49%

Note that the country was just entering and just exiting severe recessions at the end of Obama’s and Reagan’s first years, respectively.

Then you have Trump. His 35% approval rating is completely unprecedented at this juncture of a modern presidency.

Here’s the approval breakdown by affiliation:

Republicans 85%

Independents 33%

Democrats 4%

Note that this staggering negative achievement has taken place during what will probably end up being the best economy we’ll see over the next few years (it has now been eight and a half years since the last recession, which is nearly the longest economic expansion in US history). And the country is at peace, to the extent that concept still has meaning in the post-9/11 era of War is Peace.

It may sound paradoxical to claim that a presidency that generates a new scandal of some sort practically every day isn’t suffering drastically lower approval ratings than any of his predecessors because of scandal, but in fact it’s clear that chronic as opposed to acute scandals are as much a permanent feature of the Trump presidency as white supremacy and stupid hats. All of which is to say, absent a (likely brief) rally round the flag effect if and when he should decide to slaughter some foreigners, Trump’s current abysmal approval numbers are as high as they are likely to get.

Now there are a couple of ways of interpreting this. One is to see the tax bill as the culmination of an at least semi-conscious political smash and grab job by the GOP, which will now go about trying to rid itself of Trump by January of 2021 at the latest, given the devastation they seem likely to suffer at the polls next November.

The other is to note that the GOP has now wedded itself to the kind of regime that, historically speaking, considers democracy of any sort a major inconvenience, and that the party — or perhaps the Party — will act accordingly.

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