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Poll: Trump will take oath of office as one of least popular incoming presidents

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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40 percent, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president.

After a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump’s handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors.

Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84 percent approval rating, 67 percent approved of Bill Clinton’s transition as of late December 1992 and 61 percent approved of George W. Bush’s transition just before he took office in January 2001.

RELATED: CNN/ORC poll results

Trump’s wobbly handling of the presidential transition has left most Americans with growing doubts that the president-elect will be able to handle the job.

About 53 percent say Trump’s statements and actions since Election Day have made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency, and the public is split evenly on whether Trump will be a good or poor president (48 percent on each side).

The president-elect dismissed the poll findings on Twitter: “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before.”

Rep. Sean Duffy, a Trump supporter, said the president-elect’s ongoing battle with the media has hurt his image.

“What’s happening here is the public fight that Mr. Trump is having with CNN and other media groups has taken some skin off his poll numbers and it’s gone down,” he said.

Across all three of these measures, Americans’ impressions of Trump have worsened since November. In that time, disapproval of his handling of the transition has climbed seven points to 52 percent, the percentage who think he’ll do a good job has dropped five points, and the share saying they have lost confidence in Trump’s ability to be president grew 10 points.

Trump’s favorability rating, a measure often seen as a read on a public figure’s personality instead of the job he or she is doing, has taken less of a hit, decreasing by just three points to 44 percent.

That change falls within the poll’s margin of sampling error and is not statistically significant.

Despite these declines, many Americans remain confident Trump will achieve several signature campaign promises, with most saying it’s at least somewhat likely that he will impose tariffs on companies that manufacture goods in Mexico (71 percent), renegotiate NAFTA (61 percent) and create good-paying jobs in economically challenged areas (61 percent).

About half think Trump will be able to simplify the tax code (50 percent) or protect sensitive electronic information from theft by foreign governments (48 percent).

Fewer, 44 percent, say it’s likely Trump will be able to build a wall along the border with Mexico, and just 29 percent believe he will be able to get Mexico to reimburse the United States for the construction of the wall.

About 4 in 10 think the president-elect will be able to defeat ISIS, down from 50 percent who said so in November.

More broadly, less than half say Trump’s priorities for the country reflect their own (46 percent say so), and the country is almost evenly divided on whether the policies he’s proposed will move the country in the right direction or the wrong one (48 percent right direction, 49 percent wrong direction).

The poll suggests the deep political divisions that drove the 2016 presidential campaign — between men and women, whites and racial minorities, those holding college degrees and those without and rural residents and those in more urban areas — continue unabated as Inauguration Day approaches.

Trump’s approval rating for handling the transition is almost 30 points higher among rural residents than it is among urbanites, nearly 20 points higher among men than women and among whites than non-whites, and 13 points higher among whites without degrees than among those who completed college.

The incoming vice president, Mike Pence, holds a narrowly net-positive favorability rating, 40 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable. Republicans rate Pence slightly lower than his new boss; 75 percent have a favorable view of the vice-president-to-be, while 89 percent have a positive take on Trump.

Among Democrats, however, Pence earns higher marks than Trump, 16 percent see him favorably vs. 9 percent who say so about Trump.

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