As Donald Trump takes the oath of office Friday to officially become the 45th president of the United States, he faces a worrying reality: The majority of the country doesn’t like him.
Fox News sampled 1,006 registered voters and found 55 percent of them saw the incoming president unfavorably. Trump’s approval rating is 42 percent, 1 point behind Hillary Clinton’s.
It’s a low approval rating for an incoming president but, after a polarized and angry election cycle, not a particularly surprising one. Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by almost 2.9 million votes, and nearly the same number of people are coming to Washington, DC, to protest his presidency as are projected to attend the inauguration.
Ironically, Trump’s popularity is 8 points behind that of Obamacare, the health care law Republican lawmakers are so ardently trying to repeal. Trump is also less popular than the Democratic Party and his own vice president-elect, Mike Pence.
Since winning the election, Trump hasn’t seen the same approval bounce as most incoming presidents. According to Fox’s poll, 54 percent of Americans also disapprove of the way Trump’s team has handled the transition. President Barack Obama will be leaving office a notably more liked candidate, with a 60 percent approval rating.
As Vox’s Dylan Matthews wrote earlier this week, public opinion is one of the most important checks on a president:
While it may not always feel true, political scientists broadly agree that presidents have historically been quite responsive to public opinion, perhaps more so than the framers — who saw the office as standing somewhat aloof of mass sentiment — originally intended.
It’s possible Trump will behave differently, however. He has responded to his low approval ratings by insisting that these polls are also rigged — just as he did on the campaign trail. If he really believes that, it’s possible that public opinion will constrain him less than it has previous presidents.