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,.
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.