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Trump To Take Office With Weak Approval Rating

Donald Trump will take the oath of office on Friday and will do so with, according to one poll, an approval rating roughly half that of Barack Obama when he was sworn-in.

A CBS News poll says Trump’s approval rating is 32% as he becomes the 45th president of the United States. By contrast, Barack Obama’s was 60% on the day he took office in 2009.

Professor Don Abelson, chair of the Department of Political Science at Western University and director of the Canada-US Institute, suggests there is a considerable amount of uncertainty among Americans and the rest of the world about what a Trump presidency will be like.

“Outside of his base of supporters, I think most Americans and most people around the world are going to be watching the inauguration with some anticipation and probably more fear,” says Abelson. “There’s a lot of concern about whether or not Donald Trump, a political neophyte, is actually going to make good on the many promises he made over the last several months.”

The falling approval rating for Trump isn’t surprising to Abelson. While Trump captured 46% of the popular vote on November 9, he has done little to address the concerns of those who did not vote for him. According to Abelson, that’s a strategy that doesn’t bode well for the long term.

“One thing he has not done, which I thought was incumbent upon him to do, was to reach out to the entire country and try to heal the wounds created over the last several months,” says Abelson. “Instead, he has decided to placate his base. That’s only going to take him so far.”

Abelson adds there is a real political danger for Trump, as there is for any politician that comes to power riding a populist wave, that undelivered promises can mean a collapse of support. He says by tapping into the fear, resentment, and animosity many Americans felt toward Washington and economic elites, Trump may have painted himself into a corner. If he doesn’t deliver the jobs he promised to so many Americans who feel left behind by the global economy, there will be tremendous backlash.

Trump shouldn’t expect a Republican controlled Congress to bail him out either, according to Abelson.

“He has a Republican controlled House and a Republican controlled Senate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to get his agenda through. We’re already seeing Republicans on Capitol Hill who are deeply concerned about the direction Trump could move in. They owe their allegiance to the people that put them in office. I think he’s going to be on a relatively short leash,” says Abelson.

For Canadians, one of the biggest concerns is how a Trump presidency will affect our economy. Trump has sounded several protectionist notes both during the campaign and since the election. Abelson says those concerns aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

“What is he going to do with respect to the trade agreement he has with Canada and Mexico? It’s the uncertainty, the unpredictable nature of how he’s going to respond and whether or not he is prepared to listen to the people around him, and whether he is getting good advice from the people around him. So, there’s a lot of uncertainty and I think that’s what we can expect in the months ahead,” he says.

At least 60 Democratic lawmakers have said they will not be attending Trump’s inauguration.