After two weeks of improvement, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating declined to 40 percent over the past week, a sizable drop of five percentage points. This is the first time in his presidency that the numbers have moved this much in SurveyMonkey’s tracking in a single week. Meanwhile, his disapproval rating increased by four points, from 53 percent to 57 percent.
The latest dip erases weeks of steady progress for the president as news of hurricanes and “deals” with Democrats on the budget and immigration gave way to Trump’s confrontation with NFL players and another Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare. Trump’s current approval rating now returns to the levels measured by SurveyMonkey tracking throughout most of August.
The percentage who say they strongly approve of Trump’s performance also declined over the past week, from 23 to 21 percent, although the change in this category of approval has remained relatively steady in recent weeks. By contrast, strong disapproval of the president, which had been steadily declining since late August, flared back up five points to 45 percent.
Trump’s recent rise and fall is also evident among the various categories of party identification, particularly among independents who lean to neither party.
Why the change? The shift in the stories dominating the news is an obvious explanation. One particularly powerful, though perhaps not well-appreciated problem for the President involves the renewed attempts to repeal-and-replace Obamacare.
Over the past two weeks, since the unveiling of the latest effort, the bill introduced by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, selection of “health care” as the issue that matters most to Americans rose from 21 to 25 percent. Concerns of health care have ebbed and flowed throughout 2017 in SurveyMonkey’s tracking, with clear peaks following earlier moments in which legislative attempts to repeal Obamacare dominated the news: The introduction and first unsuccessful vote on a Republican repeal bill in the U.S. House in March (24 percent), the passage of that bill in late April (26 percent), Senate debate and delay of an initial repeal vote in late June (30 percent) and their rejection of that bill in late July (30 percent).
While the pattern is more subtle, the four previous peaks in public concern over health care coincided with modest declines in the President’s job approval rating, usually to a number at or near his current rating of 40 percent.
The trends in Trump’s approval rating come in two flavors.
- “The slow burn”: Over the past eight months SurveyMonkey’s tracking showed a gradual decline in approval, with a significant inflection point in early May, following passage of the U.S. House bill to repeal Obamacare and the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
- “News-driven variation”: The week-to-week up and down that is sometimes purely random and sometimes reflects the news of the moment, such as declines that seem to occur whenever a Obamacare repeal bill approaches a vote in the House or Senate.
This week’s full approval topline results and a detailed demographic breakdown can be viewed here. A housekeeping note: Next week and going forward, we will publish weekly Trump approval updates on Thursdays rather than Fridays.
Results from previous weeks can be accessed here.
Methodology: This SurveyMonkey Tracking poll was conducted online September 22 through September 28, 2017 among a national sample of 16,638 adults ages 18 and up. Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly 3 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data for this week have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.