Trump may have won the election but he hasn’t gained the confidence of the American people the way our last several presidents have. Gallup tracks 7 different measures of confidence just before a president takes office. The questions all ask participants to give a simple yes or no about whether they believe the incoming president will manage various tasks appropriately and without incident. They include things like “preventing major scandals, using military force wisely and handling the economy effectively.”
Almost without incident presidents score in the seventies. Clinton dipped to 65% in terms of his perceived ability to manage US interests abroad and Obama scored in the 80’s in terms of his expected managerial skills and his ability to work with Congress. This means that a fair number of individuals from opposing parties tend to see the presidents they did not vote for as at least adequate. Imagine that.
But this year the numbers for Trump were far different. Only 44% of Americans say that they expect that the incoming president will be able to avoid scandal. Though even that is a pretty sizable number given the circus we saw throughout the election. The list of scandals he’s already accumulated could easily fill this entire article: a murderous Russian dictator helped him win, he has unprecedented conflicts of interest and seems poised to do nothing about them and then there’s the incredibly long list of women who claim he assaulted them sexually. Needless to say it’s hard to imagine how all of that will just disappear the day he sets foot in the oval office.
The other six categories were similarly awful though he did score 60% in terms of his ability to work effectively with Congress. Though that’s still the lowest score ever recorded and his party controls both the House and the Senate. In fact, across the seven questions there is not a single one that Trump garnered more confidence in than any of the previous 3 presidents.
The explanation is likely the fear tactics that Trump and the Republican party employed in order to win. Conservatives believe that their country is a mess and about to collapse into some dystopian nightmare. They believe there are scandals at every level of government that completely impede general functionality. Strange stories pass through email chains about people being fired for some bizarre PC reason. This all adds up to the general feeling that the ‘other’ culture of America is completely alien and without values. A recent poll found that 50% of Trump voters actually believe the pizza-gate scandal. That is that the Clinton’s run a child sex ring out of the basement of some pizzeria.
Republicans were desperate to set their country back on track. And they were desperate enough to show up and vote. Even though millions more Americans voted for the candidate who acted like a president that’s still saying something. And now Trump will actually have to be that president in the real world, not the fantasy world he’s created. And even if these people try to remain hopeful and make up fuzzy facts for their candidate, when you actually ask them concrete questions about what they expect to happen in the next four years they paint a pretty bleak picture. If the last few years of moderate economic growth were so terrible, what does success look like? And what will they do when Trump fails?
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