Donald Trump did not win the presidency by the standard measures of democracy.
Fifty-four percent of the Americans who cast ballots on November 8, 2016 favored someone else, and Hillary Clinton won almost 3 million more votes than Trump. Only an antiquated remnant of an 18th-century instinct toward oligarchy—an Electoral College designed by slaveholders and wealthy merchants to maintain the authority of the elites—allowed an ill-prepared and cruelly intended billionaire to enter the White House. But Trump was a lot more popular in November than he is now.
That’s a big deal for the president. And it’s also a big deal for the resistance.
After six months, Trump’s approval rating has fallen to 33 percent in a fresh Quinnipiac University Poll that was released on Wednesday. That’s the lowest Quinnipiac result yet, and it’s not an outlier: The new Gallup tracking poll has the president’s approval at a similarly dismal 36 percent, the lowest three-day average in Trump’s tenure. Even Rasmussen, usually the best for Trump, has him at 38 points—the same as the Real Clear Politics average. Gallup, Quinnipiac, and Rasmussen recently scored his disapproval rating at 60, 61, and 62 percent respectively.
These numbers tell a story that can’t be neglected amid the day-to-day chaos associated with Trump’s administration: His base of support has fallen dramatically since the election. How dramatically? The 45th president’s approval rating is now comparable to Richard Nixon’s when he was being battered by Watergate revelations in the spring and summer of 1973.
What’s the takeaway?
Trump is losing the faith of the American people. He is doing himself immense damage—failing to lead on major issues such as health care, flunking even the most basic foreign-policy tests, and leading his White House into deeper disarray with hirings, firings, and reshuffles of a cabinet that was a mess to begin with.
But the success of the resistance shouldn’t be underestimated when considering the crisis into which Trump’s presidency is degenerating. Opposing the president and his policies has worked—not in every instance, but frequently enough—and all of the president’s campaign-trail talk about deal making and managerial skill seems comic now.
As Trump’s poll numbers collapse, it is vital to keep the pressure on. Trump’s policies are wrong, his appointments are awful, and his continued tenure threatens the stability and safety of the United States. He will get increasingly desperate—as this week’s extreme moves on immigration and world affairs well illustrate.
This is the time to say “no”—absolutely and unequivocally—to Donald Trump, to demand that Democrats stand firm against his initiatives and appointments, and to demand that responsible (or at the least politically savvy) Republicans join them.
This is also the time to push harder for accountability for the president and his aides and appointees—including the threat of impeachment. The math was always against him, but whatever claim on legitimacy Donald Trump might have been able to make after the November 8 election has long since evaporated. The numbers are now overwhelming: Trump won 46 percent of the vote in November, and his approval rating has fallen as low as 33 percent. Likewise, while he was opposed by 54 percent of Americans in November, his disapproval rating has now as high as 62 percent.
Of course, there are some folks who disapprove of Trump but still might support him against an unappealing Democrat, just as there are probably a few who approve of him but might support an appealing one. But the numbers tell a story that cannot be denied, and cannot be spun: Sky-high disapproval ratings are a plea for Trump to change course, but there is no evidence that he is capable of doing so. Trump’s vanishing approval rating has become a plea to the resistance, in Congress and in the streets, to do everything in our power to oppose the agenda of a president who began without a mandate and has continued to lose favor with the American people.