The FINANCIAL -- About half of Americans say President Donald Trump is moving too fast in addressing the major problems facing the country today, with most of the rest saying his speed of action is about right.
When Gallup asked the same question in early 2009 about then-newly elected President Barack Obama, the public's sentiment was significantly different; 63% said Obama's pace was about right, with 22% saying it was too fast and 10% not fast enough.
The current results are based on interviewing conducted Jan. 30-31.
Americans identifying with the same party as the president were very positive about Obama's speed of action in early 2009 (82% of Democrats said it was about right) and are similarly positive now (76% of Republicans say it is about right). The big difference comes with the more critical attitudes among those who identify with the opposite party as the president. In 2009, 45% of Republicans said Obama was moving too fast. Now, 73% of Democrats say Trump is moving too fast, according to Gallup.
Roughly Four in 10 Approve of Trump's Executive Orders
The perception that Trump is moving too fast is likely based on reaction to the continuing stream of memoranda and executive orders he has issued in his first 10 days in office. The most controversial of these have focused on immigration and refugees, to which Americans' initial response is significantly more negative than positive.
Between 36% and 42% of Americans approve of suspending the Syrian refugee program, temporarily halting entry into the U.S. for most people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and ordering the construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. These approval scores are slightly below Trump's overall job approval rating of 43%.
Although there are some differences in approval of Trump's orders, Americans' reactions to them -- and their overall evaluation of Trump as president at this point -- are broadly similar. The executive orders receive majority disapproval, ranging from 55% who oppose the immigration restriction to 60% who oppose building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Fifty-two percent disapprove of Trump's overall job performance.
In early 2009, the public's response to six different actions taken by then-newly inaugurated Obama showed a wider range of approval. Americans strongly supported Obama's naming special envoys to handle the situations in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan (76%) and restricting people from working as lobbyists either before or after serving in his administration (76%). But 35% approved of allowing U.S. funding for overseas family planning organizations that provide abortions, and less than half (44%) approved of Obama's order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects.
By Obama's second year in office, his approval rating was routinely below 50% and marked by extreme political polarization, with most Democrats approving and most Republicans disapproving of his job performance. That polarization persisted to the point that Obama ended his presidency with the most polarized average approval ratings of any president in Gallup's polling history.
It now looks as if Americans' overall reaction to Trump will be little different. Large majorities of Republicans approve of Trump's immigration-related executive orders and the overall job he is doing, while few Democrats agree.
Trump is not enjoying the type of honeymoon that the American public accorded his predecessors in their first weeks in office. Trump's initial job approval rating was the lowest in Gallup history, and a majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the job he is doing. No other president going back to Dwight Eisenhower had majority disapproval in his first several months in office. A majority of Americans, in similar fashion, disapprove of several of the high-visibility executive actions Trump has taken within his first 10 days in the White House.
This polarization of opinion most likely reflects not only Trump himself -- his style and the actions he has taken -- but also the prevailing political environment today. Americans are sharply divided along political lines on any number of issues, meaning that any newly elected president these days will find it difficult to develop bipartisan support for their presidency or for specific actions.