Two months after President Donald Trump left office, 38% of Americans say he made progress toward solving major problems facing the country during his administration – while a nearly identical share (37%) say he made these problems worse. Another 15% say Trump tried but failed to solve the nation’s problems, while 10% say he did not address them.
Looking back at Trump’s term, just over half of Americans (53%) rate Trump’s presidency as below average – including 41% who say he was a “terrible” president. About a third (35%) rate his presidency as above average, including 17% who say he was a “great” president. Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of Trump’s presidential legacy, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 12,055 U.S. adults conducted March 1-7, 2021.
To assess how Americans view the legacy of former President Donald Trump, we surveyed 12,055 U.S. adults March 1-7, 2021, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
About three-quarters of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (77%) say Trump made progress in addressing the nation’s major problems, compared with just 7% of Democrats and Democratic leaners. Instead, nearly two-thirds of Democrats (64%) say Trump made the country’s major problems worse over the course of his presidency – a view held by only 5% of Republicans.
The partisan divide over Trump’s legacy is more pronounced than it was for past presidents in surveys conducted in the last months of their presidencies.
Overall, 35% of Americans say Trump was a great (17%) or good (18%) president, while far more say he was a poor (12%) or terrible (41%) president. About one-in-ten Americans (12%) say Trump was an average president.
There is a substantial partisan gap in evaluations of Trump’s presidency. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats (72%) say he was a terrible president, with another 17% saying he was a poor president. Only 4% of Democrats say Trump was good or great.
Republicans, in contrast, give Trump mostly positive ratings, though they are more modest in their intensity than Democrats: 37% of Republicans say Trump was a great president, while roughly the same share (36%) say he was a good president. Just 10% of Republicans say he was a poor or terrible president.
Americans’ feelings about Trump are little different today than they were throughout his time in office. On a “feeling thermometer” where 0 is the coldest rating and 100 the warmest, about half of Americans (51%) rate Trump “very coldly” (a rating of 0-24), which is nearly identical to the shares giving this rating throughout his presidency. About a quarter of Americans (23%) rate Trump “very warmly” (a rating over 75), which is largely unchanged from the share who felt that way toward him while he was in the White House.
The partisan divide in feelings about Trump also remains. A majority of Republicans express either very warm (52%) or warm (19%) feelings toward Trump, as they did during his presidency, though about two-in-ten Republicans (18%) continue to have cold feelings for the former president.
The vast majority of Democrats say they feel coldly toward Trump: About eight-in-ten (84%) offer very cold ratings, while another 6% give somewhat cold ratings. These shares have changed little since 2018.