Poll shows voters warming to a Trump presidency

Gabrielle Levy

Voters are feeling more optimistic about the prospect of Donald Trump's presidency as his transition gets underway than they were before the election.

According to a Morning Consult poll of registered voters, Trump's approval rating has jumped 9 points, to 46 percent, up from 37 percent just before Election Day. The percentage of registered voters who disapprove of the president-elect has dropped from 61 percent to 46 percent.

"Trump's favorability among voters has reached new highs since he became president-elect," Morning Consult co-founder Kyle Dropp was quoted in Politico as saying. "This honeymoon phase in common for new presidents. For example, Obama saw about a 20 point swing in his favor following the 2008 election."

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The poll found about half of voters say the transition, which got off to a rocky start but has accelerated in the second week since the election, is as organized or more organized than transitions in the past.

While more than half of respondents say they hadn't heard of Trump's picks for chief of staff, Reince Priebus, or senior strategist, Steve Bannon, those who are familiar with Bannon called his selection "a weak choice" by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Bannon's selection has been broadly criticized on the left for his ties to the alt-right – a loosely organized group that developed in response to mainstream conservatism and has been associated with white nationalism.

Voters are evenly split on their feelings about Trump's victory, with 50 percent saying they are happy about the election and 48 percent saying they are unhappy, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

Even for those who are pleased with the election's outcome, many were critical of his conduct during the campaign: Fully 35 percent gave Trump an F for his campaign behavior, 15 percent graded him at D, and 19 percent gave him a C, according to Pew's poll.

The survey found just 30 percent gave Trump an A or a B, by far the lowest for a winning candidate since Pew first asked voters to grade newly elected presidents in 1988.

And, for the first time, voters were more pleased with how the losing candidate, Hillary Clinton, conducted her campaign than the winner did his. More than 4 in 10, or 43 percent, graded Clinton with an A or a B – slightly below the 44 percent score earned by Republican Mitt Romney four years ago.

Respondents on average gave Clinton a C grade, compared to a C-minus for Trump.

Still, voters are generally optimistic, with 56 percent saying they believe Trump's first term will be a success. That figure is lower than voters saw President Barack Obama's prospects in 2008, when 67 percent predicted he would have a successful first term.

Unlike eight years ago, when 59 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters said their party should work with Obama, just 32 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters want their party to work with the new president, while 65 percent say "Democratic leaders should stand up to Donald Trump on issues that are important to Democratic supporters, even if it means less gets done in Washington."