Trump Now Trails Only Reagan Among Recent Presidents in GOP Esteem

Republicans famously love Ronnie. But now they love Donnie, too. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images, Dirck Halstead / The LIFE Images Collection / Getty Images

Anyone who doubts Donald Trump has totally conquered the Republican Party he acquired by a hostile takeover in 2016 should look at the evidence (assembled by Perry Bacon Jr.) that his recent improvements in popularity are almost entirely attributable to rising GOP support.

Gallup’s most recent weekly survey, conducted from Feb. 5 to 11, showed President Trump’s job approval rating among self-identified Republicans at 86 percent …

SurveyMonkey polling from the first week of February shows a similar pattern: 89 percent of Republicans1 said they approve of Trump’s handling of his job as president. And the share of Republicans who “strongly approve” — in the mid-50s for much of last year — is up to 61 percent.

But there’s an even stronger, and perhaps even shocking, sign of the affection Republicans now bestow upon the 45th president. In honor of Presidents’ Day, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and the pollster Ipsos tested the popularity of the last 12 presidents, dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, on a scale of one to ten. Unsurprisingly, John F. Kennedy (an average rating of 6.56) and Ronald Reagan (6.29) topped the list, with Donald Trump (4.20), Lyndon Johnson (4.17) and Richard Nixon (3.80) bringing up the bottom.

Photo: University of Virginia

But broken down by party ID, it turns out Trump is more popular among Republicans than W. or Poppy Bush, Gerald Ford, or even the beloved Ike. At 7.20, he trails only the Gipper (8.03) in the esteem of his fellow partisans. To put that in context, Trump’s rating among Republicans is higher than JFK’s (7.09) among Democrats.

Within his own party, Trump’s actually up there in that territory where you’d expect people to start naming babies after him. You never know with a strange and erratic man like him what the future will hold; he seems entirely capable of the kind of self-destruction that brought down Nixon. But for now, the idea that he is going to be vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2020 or that the GOP will return to its pre-Trump legacy after he’s gone seems highly improbable. They love this guy.

Trump Trails Only Reagan Among Recent Presidents in GOP Love