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Trump Is Holding On to His Base — But He's Losing Nearly Everyone Else

First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter
Image: President Donald Trump departs the White House on his way to a waiting Marine One helicopter April 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump departs the White House on his way to a waiting Marine One helicopter April 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee / Getty Images

First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter

Trump holds on to his base — but is losing nearly everyone else

The good news for President Trump in the latest NBC/WSJ poll is that he’s still holding on to Republicans and his most committed supporters. In the poll, 82% of Republican respondents, 90% of self-described Trump voters, and 56% of white working-class Americans approve of the president’s job as Trump approaches his 100th day in office on Saturday. But here’s the bad news for him: He’s lost nearly everyone else in his first three months. The NBC/WSJ poll shows that just 7% of Democrats, 30% of independents, and 34% of college-educated whites give Trump’s job a thumbs-up.

Overall, the president’s job-approval rating stands at 40% — the lowest ever in the history of the NBC/WSJ for a new president. And this base-vs.-everyone else contrast shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Trump’s outreach has been aimed more his supporters (see his appearance this Friday before NRA and his rally Saturday in Pennsylvania) than at his opponents or those in the middle. But what should concern the Trump White House and GOP is that all new presidents hold on to their bases. Check out these numbers for Barack Obama from the Oct. 2010 NBC/WSJ poll right before the 2010 midterms (in which Democrats suffered historic losses):

  • Overall Obama approval: 45%
  • Among Democrats: 81%
  • Among Republicans: 11%
  • Among independents: 32%

So what’s remarkable about Trump’s start is how quickly and sharply he’s lost independents and the opposition. He’s on Day 95, and his numbers are equal to -- or worse than -- Obama’s on the brink of the 2010 midterms.

NBC News

Putting Trump’s job rating into historical perspective

Not only is Trump’s 40% job rating the worst for a new president in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll; it’s the worst rating — period — for a newly elected president approaching his first 100 days since the 1950s.

  • Eisenhower: 73% (April 1953)
  • Kennedy: 78% (April 1961)
  • Nixon: 61% (April 1969)
  • Carter: 63% (April 1977)
  • Reagan: 67% (April 1981)
  • Bush 41: 58% (April 1989)
  • Clinton: 52% (April 1993)
  • Bush 43: 57% (April 2001)
  • Obama: 61% (April 2009)
  • Trump: 40% (April 2017)

Note: Pre-Clinton numbers are from Gallup; Clinton and beyond are from NBC/WSJ.

An erosion in Trump’s numbers, especially when it comes to some of his top perceived qualities

The new NBC/WSJ poll also shows an erosion in some of Trump's top perceived qualities, with 50% of respondents giving Trump high marks for being firm and decisive in his decision-making — down from the 57% who gave him high marks here in February. Another 39% of Americans give him high marks for changing business as usual in Washington — down from 45% two months ago. In addition, 39% give him high marks for being effective and getting things done — down from 46% who said this back in February. And only 25% give him high marks for being honest and trustworthy — down from 34%. Meanwhile, Trump’s standing is mostly unchanged when it comes to his perceived weaknesses: Just 27% give him high marks for being knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency, and only 21% give him high marks for having the right temperament.

RIP, Tea Party: A record number of Americans say government “should do more”

And this is another striking finding from the NBC/WSJ poll: 57% of the public says that the government should do more to solve problems and meet the needs of Americans, versus 39% who said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. That's the highest share yearning for a more active government since the poll began asking voters about the role of government in 1995. And it's a significant shift even since 2015, when 50% said that the government should do more while 46% complained that it was too active. More NBC/WSJ poll numbers are coming out later today.

Priebus says he believes the government won’t shut down

With funding for the federal government expiring on Friday, April 28, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus expressed optimism on “Meet the Press” yesterday that Congress will keep the government from avoiding a shutdown.

TODD: Government's going to stay open?PRIEBUS: I believe it will.TODD: All right, we'll hold you to it.

Maybe more interestingly, Priebus talked about securing more money for “border security” rather than money from Trump’s border wall -- which Democrats and some Republicans oppose. “I'm pretty confident we're going to get something that is satisfactory to the president in regard to border security within current negotiations,” he said.

Pelosi: Yes, you can oppose abortion and be a Democrat

From NBC's Kailani Koenig: “Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says that it's absolutely possible for someone to be a member of the Democratic Party and also be against abortion. ‘Of course,’ she told Chuck Todd when asked on Sunday's ‘Meet The Press.’” More: “‘I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman's right to choose.’ Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received backlash this week from abortion-rights groups since they scheduled a rally with a mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, who previously supported an abortion-related ultrasound bill.”

It’s Macron vs Le Pen in France

From the AFP: “Pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron and anti-immigration leader Marine Le Pen began a final duel for the French presidency Monday, after a first round of voting delivered a stunning blow to the traditional political class. Macron is the clear favourite to become France's youngest-ever president after topping Sunday's ballot with 23.75 percent of votes, slightly ahead of National Front (FN) leader Le Pen on 21.53 percent.” The runoff is May 7.

Barack is back

“Former President Barack Obama will return to his adopted home on Monday for his first public event since leaving the White House, holding a conversation with six young people in front of an audience at the University of Chicago,” the New York Times writes. “Mr. Obama has spent the three months since Inauguration Day on an extended vacation even as his staff begins setting up an office in Washington and planning continues on his presidential library in Chicago. He is also starting to work on a memoir. But on Monday, the former president will begin a series of public appearances in the United States and Europe.”

Trump’s day

At 10:00 am ET, President Trump holds a video conference with NASA astronauts aboard the space station.

What were other presidents doing on April 22?

  • Barack Obama rejects calls for a “truth commission” investigating enhanced interrogation tactics
  • George W. Bush huddles with congressional leaders as lawmakers close in on a bipartisan tax cut deal
  • Bill Clinton looks to regroup after the defeat of his jobs bill creates a stumbling block shortly before his 100 day mark
  • George H.W. Bush attends a memorial for the 47 crewmen killed in the explosion of the USS Iowa.
  • Ronald Reagan lifts the grain embargo against the Soviet Union
  • A new poll shows that a narrow majority of Americans believes Jimmy Carter’s warning of a major energy crisis