Trump Associates Also Rating Poorly in New Saint Leo University Poll

ST. LEO, FL – A new, nonpartisan survey conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( found the nation’s three highest political office holders have job approval ratings only in the 40-percent range.

Starting at the top with President Donald J. Trump, 44.1 percent of respondents in the survey of 1,073 adults said they either strongly approve (23.4 percent) or somewhat approve (20.7 percent) of the job the new president has been doing since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017. The respondents answered the online survey between March 3 and March 11, 2017. The tallies have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The combined percentage of those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing came to just over half, at 51.2 percent. The percentage who somewhat disapprove was 10.8, but the percent who strongly disapprove is 40.4 percent. A little less than 5 percent are unsure.

“President Trump’s approval rating is historically low for someone at the beginning of their term,” said Frank Orlando, political scientist and director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute. “While part of this appears to be caused by the administration’s shaky start in several key areas, it is also caused by a hyper-polarized environment.  Republicans approve of President Trump at an 86.5 percent clip, while Democrats only give him 15.2 percent approval.  These percentages are unlikely to change very much over time, barring a major event.”

Vice President Mike Pence received a job approval rating in the same range: 45.5 percent overall (22.1 percent strongly approved and 23.4 percent somewhat approved). Fewer respondents disapproved of him as strongly as disapproved of President Trump, however. Overall, 43.4 percent disapprove, with 14.8 percent somewhat disapproving and 28.6 percent strongly disapproving. The percent who could not supply an answer was 11.1.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, also a Republican, was given an overall approval rating of 42.4 percent, with 14.9 percent strongly approving of his work and 27.5 percent somewhat approving. The combined disapproval rate for Ryan was 45 percent, with 17.7 percent somewhat disapproving and 27.3 percent strongly disapproving. Those who didn’t know how to answer were 12.6 percent.

A simple comparison shows that Pence’s and Ryan’s numbers are similar to each other’s. Trump evoked stronger reactions among those who disapprove, with those strongly disapproving breaking into the 40-percent range by themselves. While about 11 percent to 12 percent had no opinion on Pence and Ryan, respectively, only half as many respondents failed to come to a judgment about Trump’s early weeks in office.

But overall, Americans gave the outsider Trump and his vice president similar marks to those of traditional Republican Ryan.


Saint Leo U Poll: Job Approval, Early Days of the Trump Administration

Officeholder Strongly approve Somewhat approve Combined
Strongly disapprove Somewhat disapprove Combined disapproval Don’t know
Trump 23.4% 20.7% 44.1%  40.4%  10.8% 51.2% 4.8%
Pence 22.1% 23.4% 45.5%  28.6%  14.8% 43.4% 11.1%
Ryan 14.9% 27.5% 42.4%  27.3%  17.7% 45% 12.6%

                                                                                                            Survey base = 1,073 adults

“It’s not surprising that Pence and Ryan enjoy similar, although less intense, approval ratings as the person who has become the figurehead of their party,” Orlando said. “It will be interesting to see what happens to Speaker Ryan’s approval if he becomes more comfortable taking stands against President Trump later in his term.”


Trump Report Card Issue-by-Issue

The survey also asked respondents about specific aspects of the Trump administration’s governing to determine what people like and don’t like so far. Eleven areas were selected, either because they were campaign issues, issues that are consistently measured in Saint Leo University Polling Institute surveys, or were matters in the news. (A percentage column for those who gave “Don’t know” answers was omitted for space on this report card.)

How would you rate the job Donald Trump is doing on Strongly approve Somewhat approve Combined approval Strongly disapprove Somewhat disapprove Combined disapproval
Support for the troops and the military 36.5% 27.6% 64.1% 15.4% 12.4% 27.8%
Revamping Obamacare / Affordable Care Act 24.5% 22.2% 46.7% 35.9% 11.4% 47.3%
Protecting the United States from terrorism 32.3% 21.8% 54.1% 26.6% 13.2% 39.8%
Deciding to move ahead with the XL Pipeline 23.6% 19.9% 43.5% 33.1% 14% 47.1%
His Cabinet appointments 18.4% 22.1% 40.5% 38.2% 13. 7% 51.94%
Immigration decisions 25.1% 18.9% 44% 38.4% 13.4% 51.8%
Relations with other nations 20.9% 20.9% 41.8% 36.9% 14.4% 51.3%
Jobs and the economy 28.1% 25.7% 53.8% 21.2% 15.7% 36.9%
Keeping his campaign promises 28.3% 23.8% 52.1% 25% 14% 39%
Handling of the media 18.7% 16.7% 35.4% 45.5% 14.1% 59.6%
Addressing racial/ethnic divisions in the nation 18.7% 21.2% 39.9% 41.6% 11.6% 53.2%


“President Trump enjoys his highest approval on supporting the military, and perhaps this is in part due to the high marks he received for the empathy he showed during the State of the Union,” Orlando said. “He also still scores highly on jobs and the economy. It seems as though focusing on supporting the military and job growth would be the two issues he should highlight if he wants to rescue his overall approval rating.”

Trump Appointees

Survey respondents were also given the chance to react to a handful of high-level


Staff and Cabinet Appointments Strongly approve Somewhat approve Combined approval Strongly
Somewhat disapprove Combined disapproval
Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist and Senior Counsel 16.4% 19.6% 36% 36% 10.2% 46.2%
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President 17.2% 20% 37.2% 36.3% 13.3% 49.6%
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General 17.9% 20.1% 38% 35.6% 12.1% 47.7%
General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense 26.9% 27% 53.9% 19% 10.5% 29.5%
Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary 16% 18.5% 34.5% 41% 11.3% 52.3%
Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor 16.3% 21.1% 37.4% 30.2% 13.7% 43.9%


“General Mattis is a very popular figure, and this support correlates with the public’s approval of Trump’s handling of the military,” Orlando noted. “On the other end of the spectrum, Betsy DeVos is even less well liked than former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon. Outside of General Mattis, there is not a lot of political capital to go around. Still, these bureaucrats serve at the pleasure of the president. Their job is to make him happy, not the public.”

(Expanded tables showing more results from the survey are available in a file at in the Poll Reports section.)

Media contacts: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).


More About Our Research

METHODOLOGY: All surveys were conducted using an online survey instrument. The national poll of 1,073 adults was conducted from March 3 through March 11, 2017 and has a plus or minus 3.0 percent margin of error. A sample of 507 adults in Florida were also surveyed during the same time period. The findings from the Florida survey have a plus or minus 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.


About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational

opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries