Throughout his first term, president Trump has managed to maintain a low, but steady approval rating. His disapproval rating is however also high. As Trump's ratings have remained constant relative to that of other presidents at this point in his presidency, a number have "caught up" to his unpopularity. This means that at this point in his presidency, Trump is not the least popular president.
Trump does, however, remain unique in that the intensity his critics have for him is huge and he is strongly disliked. Since the time of President John Kennedy, the excellent, pretty good, only fair and poor scale has been used, and this indicates the dislike for Trump.
When President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency more than 4 decades ago, a Harris poll showed that 45% of people felt that he was doing a poor job as president. Trump is in the same position right now.
The intensity of the dislike toward Trump among Democrats is deeper today than it was in 1974 against Nixon. Back then, 37% of the sample, or 70% of those who voted for George McGovern, the Democratic candidate in 1972, gave Nixon a poor rating. Trump beats that with a full 10% as 35% of the Marist sample, or 80% of Democrats, give him a poor rating today.
What is interesting is that although the majority of people did not have an intense dislike for Nixon, they did not want him to stay him in office. In 1974, the Harris poll found that 34% of Americans did not want him impeached and removed from office, while a full 56% did want it to happen. It was 83% among voters for McGovern. Although Americans did not like Nixon, it didn't turn into a strong dislike as it does with Trump.
With Trump, the intensity factor goes both ways. A lot more Americans love Trump today than loved Nixon, although as many strongly dislike Trump today as they did Nixon. In the last Harris poll taken before Nixon left office, only 7% of Americans felt he was doing an excellent job, far less than the 20% who feel the same way about Trump now.
Among Republicans now, the love for Trump is also substantially more than it was for Nixon in 1974. Only 20% (26% of the sample) of those who were going to vote for a Republican for Congress in 1974 and had voted in 1972 gave Nixon an excellent rating, whereas today, 27% of the sample or 49% of Republicans give Trump an excellent rating.
The dislike and love Trump provokes is both a negative and positive for him, and it has prevented him from falling too far below a general approval rating of 40%. The positive is that few Republican lawmakers are willing to abandon him as they feel the base loves him.
How many Americans feel strongly positive towards Trump is however far less than how many feel strongly negative. Trump, in fact, breaks the records with how many give him poor ratings this early in his term.
Trump’s current combined "only fair" and poor rating is, for example, lower than what a Harris poll showed for President Ronald Reagan in August 1982, but Trump's current 45% poor job performance rating if far above Reagan's rating of 26% in 1982.
In a late July 1994 Harris poll, President Bill Clinton’s combined "only fair" and poor rating was also higher than that of Trump, but his poor rating was only 24%.
President Barack Obama has been a favorite punching bag of Trump's, yet a Pew Research Center poll done in June 2010 found that 56% of Americans thought he was doing an "only fair" or poor job. Obama’s poor job rating was 27%, similar to that of Reagan's and Clinton's.
It is likely that Trump's Republican Party will see major midterm losses, as did all of these presidents.
The pure intensity of people’s disapproval of Trump has resulted in a huge enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats in special elections and midterm polling. This could lead the Democrats to their biggest House seat gain in a midterm since a Republican president last had such a high midterm poor rating, which was of course in 1974.