A slim 51% majority of Americans consider President Donald Trump to be a strong and decisive leader, but larger majorities think he lacks six other positive character and management qualities. These include honesty, sharing their values, caring about people like them, being able to effectively manage the government, keeping his promises and bringing about needed change.

The public’s assessments of these seven personal characteristics of the president are sharply politically polarized. At least three-quarters of Republicans continue to view Trump positively on each dimension, yet no more than 13% of Democrats hold positive views on any of them. Independents’ opinions are largely middling, with no more than 51% but no less than 27% viewing Trump positively on any of the measures.

Bar charts. Views of seven characteristics and qualities of Donald Trump among all Americans and political partisans.

Leadership has been among Trump’s greatest perceived strengths since Gallup began measuring his personal qualities in May 2016, when he became the presumptive Republican nominee. Although it is Trump’s strongest quality in the latest poll, conducted June 3-16, the reading falls short of the 57%-60% highs found through early 2017.

Honesty, which has largely been considered a challenge for Trump since his 2016 campaign, continues to be among his weakest personal characteristics. Currently, 34% of Americans say the president is honest and trustworthy — essentially tied with his lowest reading for this question, 33%, in 2016 and 2017. Americans feel similarly about Trump sharing their values, as 38% say he does, in a measure that Gallup included for the first time in the June poll.

Fewer than half of Americans currently say the president can bring about the changes needed in the U.S. (45%), keeps his promises (44%), can manage the government effectively (43%) and cares about the needs of people like them (41%).

Being an agent of change and keeping his promises were majority-level strengths for Trump (53% and 62%, respectively) at the start of his presidency, but as time has passed, the public has been less likely to say these characteristics apply to him.

Historical Context for Personal Characteristics

Putting the current findings in recent historical context, Gallup data from the first half of the year before each of Trump’s three predecessors’ re-election show a mixed bag.

  • Strong and decisive leader — Barack Obama’s 52% rating as a strong and decisive leader essentially matches Trump’s 51%, but George W. Bush’s 75% reading was much higher as a result of the public rallying behind him after the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks and the start of the Iraq War.
  • Shares your values — More Americans viewed Bush (54%), Obama (51%) and Bill Clinton (45%) as sharing their values than view Trump (38%) in this way. Although Clinton had not yet dealt with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Clintons’ Whitewater real estate deal was already under investigation and he had weathered sexual harassment allegations from Paula Jones.
  • Honest and trustworthy — Americans were also more likely to consider Bush (65%), Obama (61%) and Clinton (46%) as honest than they are to say this about Trump.
Comparison of Americans’ Views of Personal Qualities of Recent Presidents
% Saying each quality applies to each president
Trump 2019 Obama 2011 Bush 2003 Clinton 1995
% % % %
Is a strong and decisive leader 51 52 75 N/A
Shares your values 38 51 54 45
Is honest and trustworthy 34 61 65 46
Based on polls conducted in the first half of each year
GALLUP

Bottom Line

Trump’s perceived leadership skills and ability to effect change played a large part in getting him elected president. Americans’ view of Trump as a strong and decisive leader, though diminished, is his strongest personal characteristic of the seven recently measured by Gallup.

At the same time, Americans are less likely now than they were at the start of his presidency to see Trump as an agent of change, but their low opinions of his trustworthiness remain entrenched.

Yet, just as the president’s overall job approval rating is sharply polarized, so too are Americans’ assessments of his character. Although Republicans’ positive assessments have eroded somewhat since the beginning of his presidency, this group continues to hold largely positive views of all of his personal traits, and they remain firmly in his corner.

Assuming Republicans will continue to rally around the president, independents’ views of him will be important in 2020. Independents’ lukewarm approval rating and character assessments would be weaknesses for him as he seeks re-election.

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