Donald Trump Is The Least Popular President-Elect In Modern Era

Democratic lawmakers are refusing to attend his inauguration and polls say his approval rating is the lowest in modern history

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Jan 17, 2017 at 11:07 AM ET

As the inauguration of Donald Trump approaches, a slew of lawmakers are refusing to attend and two new polls put his popularity at historic lows compared to other presidents as their inaugurations approached.

According to a Washington Post/ABC poll and a CNN poll, both released on Tuesday, Trump’s favorability or approval rating is hovering around 40 percent, far less than previous presidents performed in the lead-up to their swearing-in. CNN’s poll gave Trump a 40 percent approval rating — 6 percentage points lower than his approval the week after he was elected and far lower than other presidents. Obama had an 84 percent approval rating in the week before he was inaugurated in 2009, Bush had a 61 percent rating in 2001, and Bill Clinton had a 67 percent rating in December 1992.

The Washington Post/ABC poll went even further back, to Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Here, too, Trump’s approval rating was 40 percent. Obama had 79 percent, George W. Bush had 62, Clinton had 68, George H. W. Bush had 65, Reagan had 58 percent (the lowest until Trump came along), and Carter had 78.

That’s not to say that approval ratings before someone is even sworn in are an indicator of his performance once he becomes president. And polls in general have not been an accurate predictor of Trump’s popularity, if the fact that he won the election when almost every poll predicted he would lose are any indication.

Trump responded to the polls on Twitter on Tuesday, saying that they were “rigged just like before.”

There are several lawmakers who will not attend Trump’s inauguration on Friday. This isn’t unprecedented; in fact, Rep. John Lewis, who said he would not attend the inauguration because he didn’t think Trump was a “legitimate” president, also refused to attend George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration because, according to the Washington Post, he didn’t think Bush was the “true elected president.” (This came after an extremely close election that took over a month to resolve, and in which, like Trump’s election, the candidate who won the popular vote still lost.)

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More than 40 lawmakers have refused to attend Trump’s inauguration, many of them in response to Trump’s tweets about Lewis, in which the thin-skinned future president said Lewis’s district was “in horrible shape and falling apart” as well as “crime-infested,” then expanded on that to say that Lewis should “finally focus on the burning and crime infested [sic] inner-cities [sic] of the U.S.,” even though Lewis is just the representative of Georgia’s fifth district, which includes Atlanta, and not of all inner cities in the country. (Nor is every inner city in America on fire —if any — or crime infested.) Trump also said that Lewis, who fought for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., was “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results,” adding that this was “sad!”

Trump has also had a hard time finding entertainers to perform at the inauguration, with many refusing outright and others cancelling after the fact, including Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday, who said it was a “lapse of judgement” to agree to perform, and a Bruce Springsteen cover band, which said they signed a contract to perform back in 2013 but didn’t want to seem “disrespectful” to Springsteen, who has been vocal about his dislike of Trump. Three Doors Down and Toby Keith are the biggest names still scheduled to perform at inauguration events.