Newly installed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci began what will no doubt be a long series of errors, misstatements and outright lies with this whopper: Recent polls, he claimed, “indicated to me … the president is really well loved.”
President Trump is not at all beloved.
As I detailed here last week, he was far and away the most unpopular president we have had at inauguration, at the 100-day mark and at the end of his first six months.
Much as Trump and Scaramucci might like to blame that on deeply divided and seemingly incompetent Republicans in Congress, the public has clearly concluded that Trump is personally unsuited for the highest office in the land.
Hillary Clinton tried to capitalize on Trump’s personal failings and did not succeed.
As a candidate, he was evaluated in contrast with his opponent, and fair or unfair, right or wrong, voters had doubts about Clinton as well.
The election was won among voters who disliked them both but were willing to give Trump a chance.
Perusing Trump’s tweets makes it clear that the president still seems to think he can run against Clinton.
The reality, which he has apparently failed to absorb, is that he is the president and is evaluated on his own terms, not relative to some past competitor.
Moreover, if anything, Trump is worse off today on these dimensions than he was then.
Shortly after the election, Americans told Quinnipiac pollsters that Trump was not honest by a 10-point margin.
That would seem to be damning in itself. But what was a 10-point advantage for those who see him as dishonest has exploded into a 23-point deficit on honesty today.
He garnered 46 percent of the vote, but now only 36 percent believe him to be honest.
After the election, Americans thought their president-elect cared about people like them by a 6-point margin.
Today, by 18 points, they say Trump does not care about them.
According to Gallup, the number who believe Trump is a “strong and decisive leader” declined 7 points in a few months. He’s down an identical 7 points on being able to bring about the changes the country needs.
And despite the fact that Trump continues to trumpet nonexistent accomplishments, the number who think he keeps his promises is down a whopping 17 points.
For heaven’s sake, a USA Today/iMediaEthics poll released Monday found a 47 percent plurality saying Congress “should impeach Donald Trump and remove him from the Presidency.”
This is not the profile of a well-loved president.
It is rather the portrait of a president who has lost the confidence of his constituents — a president who lies and dissembles, who fails to get things done, and who, in the public mind, is self-absorbed to the point of being unconcerned with their needs and wants.
Can Trump ever be “well loved”? It’s not very likely. He was never as well liked as most presidents have been.
Evaluations of presidents do ebb and flow, but the level of change it will take to put Trump in the well-loved category has historically required a crisis.
Sadly, this president is perfectly capable of fomenting one, but he’d get less credit for dealing with a crisis of his own making.
They say you can only make a first impression once. Trump has had at least three chances and squandered them all.
Even incremental improvement in his behavior is not likely to alter public opinion. But the simple truth is, Trump’s comportment is likely to get worse, not better.
Well loved he won’t be.
But, at this point, shooting for minimally acceptable would be a real improvement.
Mellman is President of The Mellman Group and has helped elect 30 U.S. senators, 12 governors and dozens of House members. Mellman served as pollster to Senate Democratic leaders for over 20 years and as president of the American Association of Political Consultants.