Amid record low one-year approval rating, half of Americans question Trump's mental stability: POLL

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

— -- A year in the presidential spotlight hasn’t been kind to President Donald Trump: His approval rating is the lowest in modern polling for a president at this point, with deep deficits on policy and personal matters alike. Strikingly, the public divides evenly on whether or not he’s mentally stable.

That question aside, a lopsided majority, 73 percent of those polled, rejects Trump’s self-assessed genius. Seventy percent say he fails to acquit himself in a way that’s fitting and proper for a president. Two-thirds say he’s harming his presidency with his use of Twitter. And 52 percent see him as biased against blacks -- soaring to 79 percent of blacks themselves.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

Women are especially critical of Trump in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates: A mere 29 percent approve of his work, vs. 44 percent of men. And a remarkable 55 percent of women doubt Trump’s mental stability.

Trump’s signature achievement, the new tax law, is unpopular; 60 percent say it favors the wealthy (even most well-off Americans say so), and the public by a 12-point margin, 46 to 34 percent, says it’s a bad thing for the country. At the same time, a majority celebrates his most prominent failure, on Obamacare; 57 percent say the program’s continuation is a good thing.

A vast 87 percent support the DACA immigration program that Trump ended and whose fate in Congress is uncertain -- including two-thirds of strong conservatives, three-quarters of evangelical white Protestants and as many Republicans, core Trump groups. And 63 percent overall oppose a U.S.-Mexico border wall, essentially unchanged since before the 2016 election.

More issues

In a controversy that continues to cloud his presidency, half of Americans think members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to try to influence the election. About as many, 49 percent, think Trump himself obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.

Trump’s ratings might be yet worse were it not for sharply improved economic sentiment. Fifty-eight percent say the economy is in good (or even excellent) shape, the most in 17 years. But just 38 percent say the Trump administration deserves credit; many more, 50 percent, credit the Obama administration. It’s axiomatic that a successful economy doesn’t guarantee presidential popularity, it merely makes it possible -- and Trump’s other challenges tie his shoelaces.


Trump’s gone from 11 points underwater in job approval last spring to 22 points today, a shift that occurred by July and has stabilized since. That’s a vast swing from his 12 predecessors, who averaged 29 points to the positive after a year in the White House.

Indeed just six of the past 12 presidents ever went as low or lower in approval as Trump is now -- Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon, Carter and both Bushes -- and all but Truman, much later in their presidencies.

Trump’s “strong” disapprovers, moreover, outnumber his strong approvers by a 2-1 margin. Obama got there as well, but it took him more than two-and-a-half years in office, and a deeply struggling economy.

Compared with the first ABC News/Washington Post poll of his presidency, in April, Trump is less popular generally across the board, but especially among college graduates (-11 points, to 31 percent approval), residents of the Northeast and West regions (-9 and -8 points, respectively) and whites -8 points, vs. no change among nonwhites, who started so low).

Partisan gaps

There are impressive differences among groups above and beyond the wide gender gap in Trump’s approval. He’s at new lows, 6 and 7 percent approval, respectively, among Democrats and liberals, compared with 80 percent of strong conservatives, 78 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of evangelical white Protestants. (He slips to 59 percent approval among “somewhat” conservatives.)

Such gaps have become a fixture of the sharply divided political firmament. Obama, for example, saw a low of 7 percent approval for Republicans, at the same time (March 2015) that he was at 79 percent among Democrats.

Partisan predispositions influence more than job approval. Consider:

-- Seventy-nine percent of Democrats think Trump obstructed the Russia investigation, and 51 percent of independents agree – diving to just 13 percent of Republicans.

-- Seventy-five percent of Democrats think Trump is not mentally stable. Forty-six percent of independents share that view. Just 14 percent of Republicans agree. (Party and ideology aside, Trump is most likely to be seen as stable by white evangelicals, 79 percent, and non-college-educated white men, 69 percent; and most likely to be seen as not stable by nonwhites, including two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics alike.)

-- Fifty percent of Republicans say Trump’s a genius. That plummets in other groups -- 17 percent of independents, 6 percent of Democrats. There’s also a notable division within conservative ranks on the question. Among people who are strongly conservative, 52 percent call Trump a genius, while among “somewhat” conservatives, this drops to just 29 percent.


There are notable differences among groups on substantive issues as well. Fifty-eight percent of whites call the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants a good thing for the country; just 26 percent of nonwhites -- including 18 percent of Hispanics -- agree. Or, looking at two key voting groups in 2016, 74 percent of non-college-educated white men say it’s a good thing, compared with 39 percent of college-educated white women.

Then there’s the tax bill. Among Americans on the lower half of the income scale, 26 percent call it a good thing for the country, compared with 41 percent of those with middle incomes or more. Even in those middle and higher ranges, though, there’s only a division on whether the bill is a good thing or bad thing -- 41-43 percent in the $50,000 to $100,000 bracket, and about the same, 40-43 percent, in the $100,000-plus range (about two in 10 adults).

One last finding cuts to a telling example of general agreement, rather than disagreement, and again not to Trump’s advantage. Among lower-income Americans, 64 percent say the tax bill favors the wealthy. And among the comparatively wealthy themselves, those with $100,000-plus incomes, 56 percent say the same thing.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 15-18, 2018, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.