The era of low expectations

We’re just a few weeks away from inaugurating a president whom most Americans believe won’t be very good at the job, according to a Gallup poll released today.

Even President Obama, who couldn’t work with Congress, is rated higher in the ability to get things through Congress than Trump, even though the House and Senate are both in the control of the party that annointed Trump.


How to explain the logic in the gap between Trump’s electoral popularity and expectations for his presidency? Simple. Those who opposed him hold much lower expectations for him than the opponents of previous presidents, partly a reflection, perhaps, of Trump’s inability and unwillingness to heal the wounds of an election.

That New Year’s Eve tweet even drew a rebuke from Kid President. Kid President, who is all about having hope and being nice.


But back to the poll: Gallup says the results would probably be the same no matter who won November’s election.

Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, also has high unfavorable ratings, and the public most likely would have had similarly low expectations of her ability to handle these situations had she won.

In addition to their personal feelings about Trump, Americans’ lower confidence in him may also stem from the public’s generally low level of trust in government. Americans’ trust in the federal government to handle international and domestic problems is worse now than it was when Bush and Obama took office. Also, their confidence in the institution of the presidency remains below the historical average, though it is higher now than the record lows it registered at the end of the Bush administration.

Related: Under 3 weeks left: Obama in closing stretch of presidency (Associated Press)