A recent study confirmed what many — at least on the Right — assume about President Donald Trump's poll numbers: It's mostly personal.
As the establishment media has been reveling in reporting for months, Trump has been struggling in the polls. So what is it exactly that a large percentage of Americans disapprove of? According a Gallup study published Thursday, Americans who disapprove of how Trump is handling the presidency do so mostly because they do not like his personality or because they perceive his character to be problematic.
A total of 65% of those who disapprove of Trump's handling of the job mentioned a character or personality-related issue. A total of 29% cited something to effect of "not presidential," "bad temperament," "arrogant," or "obnoxious." Another 10% said he was too "inexperienced" or "doesn't know what he's doing." Others said he was selfish (6%), misused social media (6%), and was untrustworthy (6%) and racist/sexist (3%).
Meanwhile, as Gallup stresses, "broad-performance" concerns were only cited by 12% total, and policy issues were cited by only 16% of detractors, with no specific policy area cited by more than 4%. Below is the table provided by Gallup:
Interestingly, while Trump's approval numbers are mostly tied to his personality/character, the issues driving the numbers of Barack Obama and George W. Bush during the same stage of their presidencies were strikingly different. Only 14% of Obama's disapproval numbers in 2009 were connected to his personality or character, while a total of 65% were tied to "issues" and "specific policies," and another 15% were tied to "broad performance evaluations."
Bush likewise was not faulted much for his personality/character (17%); instead, he was criticized most for "broad performance" issues (43%). Just under a third (31%) disapproved of him based on issues and policies. Gallup's breakdown below:
Gallup also took a look at what Trump's approvers liked so much and compared responses to both Obama and Bush. Trump's percentages were close to Obama's (broad performance and issues/specific policies were the most widely cited), while Bush had significantly fewer supporters cite "issues/specific policies" as a positive.
So what's the take-away? Well, there's a few: First, Trump's style/behavior, at least as respondents expressed it through this survey, is the dominant issue among detractors. Most of his critics simply do not appear to be quite so concerned about his actual performance and policies as the media would lead one to believe. Meanwhile, his supporters are focused far more on the actual job he's doing and the policies he's implementing, with his unorthodox personality only the most important factor for about a quarter of his supporters.
Among the critics then, what Trump actually does as president appears to matter very little; thus, they will likely continue to disapprove of him as president. Among his supporters, how he handles issues, policies, and performs will determine how he's viewed.