On November 8, thanks to a small minority of eligible American voters and an archaic election system, the U.S. elected an overgrown orange third-grade playground bully as the next POTUS. Now many Americans, including some of that minority who voted for Trump, are having definite second thoughts.
Gallup released the results of a new poll on Monday that reveals most Americans have deep reservations about whether the man who will soon take the oath of office is up to the job. Voters were repeatedly warned this was the case with the incoming president-who-would-be-king, but unfortunately many chose to ignore the warning and either stayed home or went into the voting booth and decided to take their chances.
The Gallup survey asked respondents to indicate the degree to which the incoming president would be able to handle various responsibilities of the office. Trump was well behind his three immediate predecessors in every category.
Americans have little confidence that Trump will be able to prevent scandals, deal with an international crisis, or be prudent in the use of military force. He fared somewhat better when respondents were asked about his ability to defend U.S. interests abroad and handle the economy effectively. But Trump's numbers in those categories still lag behind those of Obama, Bush II, and Clinton.
Note that these questions were asked just before each of those presidents took office, and they indicate the public's hope about what the new chief executive would be able to accomplish, rather than reflecting on his performance. There's no doubt Bush wouldn't have received high marks at the end of his term in at least a couple of those categories. And no matter what your level of support for him, it's not likely 89 percent of respondents today would say President Obama has worked effectively with Congress.
Of course Republicans are the most bullish on President Trump. Large majorities of respondents who identified themselves with the GOP believe the new president will be just fine when it comes to handling the duties of the Oval Office. But as we know, Republicans have very different ideas about what constitutes things such as "wise" use of military force than do most Americans.
Likewise it isn't surprising that Democrats have the most dismal view of Trump's abilities. What is most telling in the poll numbers is the opinion of Independents -- those folks whose shifting opinion of the major parties often determines which one will hold power. While Independents aren't as negative on Trump as Democrats, they definitely don't share the "everything is coming up roses" view of Republicans.
The potential good news for Trump is that public expectations of him are so low he could have an easy time exceeding them. But unless we see the major pivot in his behavior that we have been promised for months but has yet to arrive, our incoming POTUS will probably underperform even these dismal numbers.