President Donald Trump was met with boos and chants of “vote him out!” when he went to the Supreme Court on Thursday to pay his respects to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump, who in an unusual twist was wearing a mask, and first lady Melania Trump made a brief appearance besides Ginsburg’s coffin at the top of the Supreme Court’s steps. As the Trumps stood silently, a nearby crowd made their displeasure with their presence known. After just a few moments, the Trumps got back into their limousine.
Footage of the incident quickly went viral. As CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak noted along with the video, “it’s rare for this President to see his opposition this up-close and in-person.”
Trump at the court as crowd chants “vote him out” — it’s rare for this President to see his opposition this up-close and in-person pic.twitter.com/VEVkRHOkjM— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) September 24, 2020
Indeed, the clip serves as a reminder that Trump is a historically unpopular president. As Harry Enten of CNN detailed earlier this month, Trump has never once hit 50 percent approval in a live interview poll since taking office. And his average approval rating of 40 percent is 6 points lower than that of Jimmy Carter, who previously had the worst performance in this metric among post-World War II presidents.
Trump is especially unpopular in large, blue urban areas like Washington, DC, where he was memorably booed when he was introduced during a World Series game last October. More recently, federal authorities forcefully cleared out protesters so Trump could have a photo op at a church across from the White House in June.
Trump almost never makes public appearances in such cities, instead opting to mingle with paying customers at properties he still owns and profits from, hold political rallies in front of his fans in rural or exurban areas where lots of white people live, or participate in roundtable events in front of carefully vetted and friendly audiences.
Of course, being historically unpopular didn’t stop Trump from winning the presidency in 2016, when, according to Gallup, he was the most unpopular major-party candidate ever to run for office. But a significant factor working in his favor back then was that Hillary Clinton was the second most unpopular such candidate.
Trump doesn’t have that working in his favor this time around. While the latest Gallup numbers indicate that Joe Biden’s favorability is underwater, his -4 spread (46 percent favorability versus 50 percent unfavorability) isn’t nearly as bad as Trump’s -16 spread (41 percent favorability versus 57 percent unfavorability).
Admirers of Ginsburg who were at the Supreme Court while she was lying in repose on Thursday had specific reasons to boo Trump. By rushing ahead to nominate Ginsburg’s replacement before the election, Trump is disregarding her dying request — “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she told her granddaughter.
Not only is Trump disregarding her final request, but he repeatedly claimed on Monday without citing evidence that it’s somehow a forgery.
“I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and [Chuck] Schumer and [Nancy] Pelosi?” Trump said on Fox & Friends on Monday. “I would be more inclined for the second. You know, that came out of the wind. It sounds so beautiful, but that sounds like a Schumer deal.”