CNN poll: Majority of Americans expect Trump to succeed as president

The national media environment that hasn’t yet shifted from campaign mode and its moment-to-moment obsession over minutiae, but a new CNN poll suggests that voters have largely moved into governance mode. Despite multiple media eruptions, a majority of Americans expect Donald Trump to succeed as president — and even larger majorities have some or a lot of confidence in his ability to deal with critical issue areas. In those areas, Trump’s numbers run comparably close to those of his predecessors, and tops them all when it comes to the economy:

Two weeks after Election Day, most Americans say President-elect Donald Trump will ultimately do a good job as president, though fewer approve of the way he’s handled the transition so far, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.

A narrow majority (53%), say they think Trump will do a very or fairly good job as president, and 40% say they have a lot of confidence in Trump to deal with the economy, a share that outpaces the percentage who had that much confidence in Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan ahead of their first inaugurations.

Trump scores lowest in confidence on foreign affairs, with just 27% having “a lot of confidence” and 50% overall having at least some. That still qualifies as second-best over the last forty years of incoming presidents; Obama only scored 33%, and Bill Clinton came in last with 14%. Otherwise, Trump more or less scores in the middle of the “lot of confidence” in appointing the best people to office and providing real leadership for the country.

However, there is one significant difference between Trump’s numbers an those of his four predecessors — the number of those in the middle. In all four categories, Trump gets between 22% – 25% for “some confidence,” while his “no real confidence” scores are much higher than those of his predecessors. Thirty-four percent have no confidence in his economic leadership, and on the other three issues, “no confidence” ranges from 43% to 49%. Previous incoming presidents seem to have had a much larger benefit of the doubt granted to them by voters, perhaps especially so for Obama. That could be a function of electing an outsider for the first time in a century or more, or it might be a particular evaluation of Trump himself and an artifact of a bruising campaign.

The division can be seen in the responses to whether Trump can change the country, where he scores 66/21 — not all that far off from Obama’s 76/23 eight years ago. However, 68% thought Obama would change the country for the better while only eight percent thought it would be for the worse. (How’d that work out, eh?) For Trump, the split is still positive but less overwhelmingly so at 43/21.  Respondents split nearly equally on whether the country will be better off in four years, 49/46, compared to 76/19 in 2008.

On the other hand, Trump gets his best favorability ratings of the CNN/ORC series at 47/50 — a virtual tie, and a vast improvement over the final election rating of 38/61. Six in ten people believe that Trump is somewhat or very likely to create jobs in economically challenged areas, too, a positive rating reflected in nearly every demographic. Voters have the most confidence, however, in Trump’s ability to fulfill his promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with 73% expecting him to win on that policy. Regardless of whether they agree with the policy or not, every demo in the poll has an overwhelming majority of people who believe that it’s somewhat-to-very likely to happen.

Basically, though, this reflects a more divided electorate, and a more polarized one as well. The only potential consequence of this, post-election, is the perception of a “honeymoon” period. When he succeeds, Trump will get feted, but don’t expect a lot of slack if he doesn’t deliver. That may be most true where the expectations are the highest — on the repeal of ObamaCare. If he vacillates on that, he may well create a credibility problem that will tax the relatively small amount of goodwill he has from voters at this stage.