Trump’s approval rating

I heard on MSNBC that Trump’s approval rating had slumped to 37% and that among Republicans, his approval rating was around 76%.   The problem with these numbers, is they come from a small sample, conducted by phone.  These values will randomly fluctuated due to the small sample and other problems inherent in statistical sampling.

I like the Gallup Presidential Approval Polls.   They’ve been in this business for decades.    They show a 38% approval rating as of November 11, 2018, while on Oct 21, 2018,  Trump was at 44%.   Is this significant?   I examined the charts from the first poll until now, and I don’t see any real trend, except a bit of drop off in his first few days in office.    I feel this is more random fluctuation, and I would just average them – resulting in about a 41% approval rating.

Looking just at the two major parties, our country evenly split 50/50.   Republicans gave him a 89% approval rating and Democrats only  7% approval rating.   On this basis, his rating should be around 48%.   I believe it’s the independents that bring his approval ratings down a bit, as their approval of Trump is only 34%.

What is remarkable about Trump’s approval ratings, is how little they have changed over time  in comparison to other presidents.   Every president in the last years has had more volatility in their approval ratings.    It usually takes a major conflict to push approval ratings below 30%.  Truman approval rating was 87% when he assumed office following the death of President Roosevelt but hit a low of 22% as the Korean war dragged on in 1952.    Even Democrats disapproved of Truman during the Korean war, with a lowest approval of 35% in April 1951.

I just want to clear the record on Trump’s approval ratings,   No plunges or soaring to new heights.   No clear trendline, up or down.   See links at bottom.

Can an unpopular president win an election?   Sure.  Only 43% of all eligible votes participated in the last election.   This makes a big difference.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Gallup poll on Trump

 

Trump’s Approval Rating

The Gallup poll has surveyed the president’s approval rating for 13 presidents from Truman to Trump.   Arbitrarily,  I’ve decided that a 75% approval means that there is strong support for the president’s recent decisions.  Getting above 75% is tough, and it doesn’t last long.      I drew a 25% approval line, which shows only three presidents hit this line or were really close:   Truman, Nixon and George W. Bush.    These were presidents during the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars.   But,  Nixon’s sharp drop in popularity was tied to Watergate.

So,  let’s make this real easy.  Over 75%, the country loves their president (more or less) and under 25%, we hate our president.   In between these two extremes,  a well liked president is able to be above the 50% line, and a not so liked president will be under 50% approval.    Many presidents start at high approvals  and go into a slump towards  the end of the term.   This is true for all presidents,  except Clinton, who started low and ended high.

Three presidents (Truman, Nixon, and George W.  Bush) all went above the 75% “we love you” line and managed to end their term very close to the 25% “we hate you” line.   Truman still holds the record of low approval rating, at 22%, with a slight uptick towards the end of his term, which ended in Jan 1953.     Eisenhower ended the Korean conflict, and enjoyed a number of  pops over the “we love you” line.

All this makes sense, as a president has a certain “honeymoon period” where people are cutting him a lot of slack because he’s new on the job.  After some time, and finding out that everything the candidate promised, is not what the president elect can deliver, there should be disappointment in the president.

So, let’s get to Obama’s line,  going into a slump about two years into his first term, crossing below 50%, but crossing back above 50% towards the end.   Of course, Obama got very  high ratings from Democrats and very  low ratings from Republicans.

What really distinguishes Trump’s approval rating, is the lack of variation, as compared to all the other presidents.  He started at 45% approval rating in his first 9 days in office, which dropped to 35% in August 2017, and the most recent surveys show a 42% rating (as of May 6, 2018).

There has certainly been a lot of misinformation out there, coming  particularly from Donald Trump.  His approval ratings do not seem to be impacted at all by the Michael Cohen/ Stormy Daniels scandal.   One reason,  is the Republicans  still love him at an 87% approval rating, and Democrats still hate him, with a 9% approval rating.   These numbers change only a few percent with each new survey.  If the country can be assumed divided 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats, then Trump would have a 48% approval.  Independents drag down his approval,  they have only 33% approval rating of Trump.

I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about how Trump’s approval ratings have soared with minorities, particularly blacks.   There was a 15% approval rating when he was elected president, and it’s 13% now.   Basically, since election day,  they have hated him.   Obama had a 91% approval rating and it stayed pretty much that way throughout his term.   Hispanics also hate Trump with a 22% approval rating, that is basically a flat line, never once crossing above 25% line.   Obama’s approval rating with Hispanics varied,  from 85% to 44%,  so he wasn’t consistently above the “we love you” line.

So, all this stuff about Trump being more popular with blacks or Hispanics  is nonsense.   When approval ratings are very low, there is more statistical variation of the results, particularly when only one small subset is examined.   Also, some polls use only people who were registered to vote in the last election.    Or they survey people who say they intend to vote in the next election.   These factors can make a difference.

Obama never got a “we love you” or “we hate you”  approval rating, and I suspect this will never happen with Trump.   Obama followed a Democratic agenda, had extremely strong support from Democrats,  and very little support from Republicans.  Vice versa with Trump, but the outcome is similar, a lack of variation in poll numbers, as compared to prior presidents.    Perhaps in the past, we focused more on the president himself and now it is more the party’s policy he represents.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Politifact.com: Trump’s False claim that his presidential approval rating is ‘not bad’

Politifact.com:  Donald Trump’s misleading claim that Kanye West’s praise doubled his African-American support

Gallup Poll on Presidential Approval Ratings

The 538 website compares Trump’s popularity (green line) with the 12 prior presidents.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/

NYT: Trump Falsely Claims His Approval Among Black Americans Has Doubled

Is Donald Trump’s Approval Rating the Lowest in Recent History Before an Inauguration?

Trump’s Popularity

Since the start of his presidency, Trump has gotten fairly low approval ratings from Gallup Poll, generally between 33 to 45% approval ratings.  But this isn’t the worst ratings by far.   Harry Truman (22%) and George W. Bush (25%) still hold the record in lowest  approval ratings during their time in office.

There is a tendency to relate Trump’s popularity to the news of the day, and I think this is unwarranted from survey data.  Basically,  the distinguishing feature of Trump’s approval rating has been how little reaction there has been to any news, positive or negative.   The graph below comes from an excellent website, fivethirtyeight.com which combines polls from various organizations.   I also examined the Gallup poll on approval ratings which has very similar results.

I consider two periods,  a declining trend from around 45% to 38% approval in the first 6 months of his presidency, and then basically a flat period after that. The intersection of these two trendlines is shown as July 10, 2017  is a bit arbitrary, and one can easily make a case for the flat period beginning weeks before or after this date.

 

Survey results will vary because the polling uses a very small sample (usually less than 2,000) and organizations will conduct surveys in different ways.  In the graph above, the range of results is shown in the lightly colored red and green shading.   The surveys are estimates of how the larger population feels about the president, approve, disapprove or no opinion/unsure.    This larger population can be the entire adult population of the US,  or the registered voters or those residents who are likely to vote in an election.  Which population is targeted can make a difference.

The links below provide good summaries of approval rating polls of President Trump for the different organizations.   One of the more surprising aspects is the variation of  the “unsure” group, from 1% to 12%.    There may  be a number of reasons for this variation.  An automated telephone poll may only allow for people to respond as approve, disapprove or unsure, while a live pollster may attempt to coax out of a respondent, a disapproval or approval rating.

The “Doubling” Story from Breitbart – Fox – Trump

Breitbart news (an online news service, which is known to be highly supportive of Trump’s policies) recently declared, “Donald Trump’s Support Among Blacks Has Doubled Since 2016, Amid Racism Claims”   followed by “Two new polls show President Donald Trump’s rising support among black voters, highlighting his political gains from pushing employers to hire Americans instead of lower-wage migrants.”   This quickly went from Breitbart to Fox News to a White House tweet as follows:

Unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever recorded. Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled. Thank you, and it will get even (much) better! @FoxNews

By any measure, approval ratings for Trump are very low among blacks.  The “doubling” result came from using an exit poll, which showed 8% of blacks voted for Trump as compared with a recent poll by Survey Monkey, showed a 17% approval rating from black respondents.  One survey was with actual voters, and the second was done by a different organization (Survey Monkey) picking people at random from the entire population, so the results are not comparable.   Gallup polls showed Trump’s approval rating among blacks was highest just after the election (about 15%) and in the range of 10 to 14% for the next four months.  In the last six months, the approval ratings are in the range of 6 to 11% without a discernible trend.   The average in the last six months (June to December) appears to be about 8%.  When consistent survey results are compared, there is no doubling of approval, as claimed by President Trump, who was quoting Fox News, who was quoting Breitbart.

The last polling data released from Gallup on black Americans a 6% approval for the time period of Dec 25 – 31, 2017.   There’s a lot of apparent random variation in the survey numbers so I wouldn’t read much into this number, as opposed to the six month trend of 8% approval.

We tend to vote by Party and stay loyal to this party

My main point, is that if you look at either polls focused on the population in general, registered voters or specific groups, such as black Americans, there hasn’t been much variation, except what one would expect from survey inaccuracies.

Based on Gallup data,  approximately 80% of Republicans approve of Trump, while only 8% of Democrats approve of Trump.   If the country is split 50:50 between Republicans and Democrats, this would give Trump an approval rating of 44%,  which is what he had at the beginning of his term.  The 2016 popular vote, would certainly support the idea of a nearly even split  between parties.   So, each party must some how win over the undecided vote, while still maintaining their base.

I tend to believe Trump supporters voted consistently for Republicans, while Clinton supporters voted consistently for Democrats.  So,  it’s more of a loyalty to the party’s agenda than the individual running the country,.

Generic Balloting

The polling organizations are attempting to assess the outcome of  the  2018 Congressional Elections by asking respondents,  whether they would be likely to vote for candidates from the Republican or Democratic party.   The question posed to respondents may also be which party they would like to see control Congress.  This is referred to as Generic  Ballot.   So far, polling has shown Democrats lead Republicans (46% to 39%),  but a lot can change before November.   In the last few weeks, Republicans seem to be edging higher, but there is a lot of variation in the data, so it would be very premature to consider this a trend.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_approval_rating

http://news.gallup.com/interactives/185273/r.aspx?g_source=WWWV7HP&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/01/14/donald-trump-support-from-blacks-spikes-amid-racism-claims/

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-generic-ballot-polls/?ex_cid=rrpromo