• 52% of American voters believe they're better off financially now than they were in 2016, but voters still gave Trump just a 38% approval rating, the poll said.
  • The discrepancy could have something to do with Trump's approach to issues like foreign policy and trade, where voters generally had a negative view of his performance.
  • The paradoxical results are also indicative of the political tightrope Trump will likely have to walk leading up to the 2020 election.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A new poll released by Quinnipiac University highlights the paradox of Donald Trump's presidency: a majority of American voters think they're better off under Trump, but they still don't approve of him.

Fifty-two percent of American voters believe they're better off financially now than they were in 2016, but voters still gave Trump just a 38% approval rating.

In short, according to Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, "the nation's economy is pretty darn good and President Donald Trump's approval numbers are pretty darn awful. So what to make of the good news, bad news mashup and how to correct it?"

The discrepancy could have something to do with Trump's approach to issues like foreign policy and trade.

Read more: Escalations in Trump's trade war could wipe out $600 billion from the world economy, OECD warns

According to the poll, 58% of voters disapprove of Trump's handling of foreign policy, and 47% disapprove of US policy toward Iran; 53% of voters disapprove of his handling of trade, and 50% disapprove of his approach toward China.

Moreover, 48% of voters say Trump's trade policies are bad for the US economy, and 44% say they're bad for their individual financial situations.

The national poll was taken between May 16 and May 20, and according to Quinnipiac's methodology , "responses are reported for 1,078 self-identified registered voters with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.7 percentage points." Respondents were reached via Random Digit Dialing of both cell phones and landlines.

The results are indicative of the political tightrope the president will have to walk in the upcoming election.

Already, it appears Trump is leaning hard on the argument that the US economy is booming under his leadership. But on other issues, Trump has seen a lukewarm or downright negative reaction from voters.

His administration has come under scrutiny, for instance, over its approach to illegal immigration.

Most notably, the Trump administration drew intense public backlash for instituting a "zero tolerance" policy that separated migrant families at the US border. Five migrant children have died in US custody since December.

He has long championed an effort to build a wall along the US southern border with Mexico, but according to a January Gallup poll , a solid majority of voters (60%) oppose the proposal. The president was also criticized following reports that he pushed administration officials to shut down the US border and offered to pardon those who followed his orders amid concerns that he was asking them to break the law.

Trump is also under the spotlight over an escalating trade war with China, the effects of which are most harshly felt by American farmers, many of whom make up a significant portion of Trump's electoral base.

Read more: Huawei catches a break: The US temporarily loosened restrictions so that the company can help existing customers

Meanwhile, tensions between the US and Iran are steadily rising, and although Trump has expressed hesitation to start a war with the country, his administration's national-security apparatus is led by Iran hawks like national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The president is also weathering a slew of congressional and federal investigations into every aspect of his life: his campaign, his administration, his business dealings, his inauguration committee, and more.

"For the moment," Malloy said, the disparity between voters' beliefs that they're better off under Trump but still view him negatively "leaves the president on shaky re-election ground."

NOW WATCH: This video shows the moment Sarah Sanders lied to a room full of reporters about FBI agents telling her they were happy Trump fired Comey

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Michael Cohen implicated at least 4 people in Trump's orbit during marathon House testimony