Combine Trump’s low ratings with the fact that the GOP lost seats in both the House and the Senate, and the Republican Party is basically limping into office in terms of public opinion. And yet despite all that, they are situated to enact sweeping change on a much larger scale than anyone else on the list except perhaps Obama. Their party holds majorities in both the House and the Senate, and, thanks to a very friendly map, they have little reason to fear losing control in 2018 even if most Americans disapprove of their conduct.Trump benefited during the election from the fact that Hillary Clinton was also unpopular, though not as horrifically unpopular as he was. But now Clinton is out of the picture, and we're in unprecedented territory with a president entering office so loathed by the American people.
But make no mistake: Trump’s in a deep hole, and his atypical personality may make it difficult to climb out. Even a 20-point bump from Trump’s current net favorability rating to his first net approval rating would leave him with an opening net approval rating of +7 percentage points. That’s not only lower than any of the presidents studied here, it would be the lowest first net job-approval rating for any president since at least 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt entered his third term.My view is that Congressional Republicans see this as their big shot for the radical overhaul of the federal government that they've been dreaming of for a very long time — and they're going to proceed with their agenda, whether the majority of the American people like it or not.
Trump will probably be hampered at least a little bit by his lack of popularity at the beginning of his term. He didn’t really defy his favorability rating during the presidential election, so there’s no reason to think he’ll be able to escape the normal effects of approval ratings. The more popular he is, the more likely he’ll be to have legislative success. Without popular support, however, he’ll likely encounter more pushback.