Trump is coming into office with record-low poll numbers for a new president. This is surely an artifact of how he managed to win last fall despite his unpopularity and of the contentious environment of the last few months, with Democrats determined to de-legitimize him and Trump not willing to leave any fight, no matter how petty, to his surrogates. Do the numbers matter? Usually you spend political capital over the first year of legislative fights rather than accrue it. This raises the possibility of Trump sinking from a low starting point over the next year, meaning Republicans would enter the 2018 with a president with low approval numbers at the top of the party, which is never a good sign.
On the other hand: 1) It may be that Trump’s approval ratings will always be suppressed because of the way he behaves, but the numbers don’t have the same significance that they had in the past; this would the obverse of the dynamic with Obama — his approval ratings have been elevated, but it wasn’t enough for people to want to vote for a de facto third term. 2) The economy certainly feels like it’s on the verge of a nice run, and this would boost Trump. 3) Events always take a hand. We don’t know what crises he will face in the first year, or how he will react to them.
Even if Trump is at, say, 35 percent in a year, it’s hard to see him losing his leverage over Capitol Hill Republicans, since the source of it is the intensity of his support, not its breadth.
Finally, Nate Silver takes on the idea that none of the polls can be trusted, which has currency after Trump’s upset victory in November.