by George S. Bardmesser
It’s been nearly a month since I wrote about the media-fabricated mirage of Trump’s alleged unpopularity. Yet Fox News, apparently, still hasn’t received the memo. My conclusion, after looking at a set of polls administered between September 1 and January 24, was that Trump’s approval numbers are quite healthy (trending upwards slowly, and around 47 percent and rising), and, if anything, better than Obama’s were at this point in his presidency:
This chart showed data for the polls excluding Rasmussen (a pollster that I consider more reliable than most, but one which others view as having an in-house Republican effect). Rasmussen’s numbers (again, deliberately not included in the chart above) tend to be in the roughly 48-49, percent range in the last few months.
As of this writing, we have three additional weeks of data, and the same chart looks as follows:
Note the outlier at 54 percent on January 29 – this is that Gallup poll that showed a historically high 49 percent approval among the category “all adults” – which, according to the approach taken in my earlier piece, was adjusted to “likely voters” by adding five points to it. Gallup’s 49 percent figure made headlines at the time (and rightly so) – given that it came out in the middle of the Senate’s impeachment trial, it was both eye-popping and illustrative of the historic nature of the impeachment.
The “historic” part here is the Democrat’s historic failure – for all the distracting and purely tactical discussions of who said what when, who was going to or not going to testify, and who voted how and why, it is difficult to imagine that this is the way Democrats conceived the ultimate outcome.
The notable part about the added data in the graph, covering the last several weeks, is its general consistency with the Gallup poll, though it hasn’t quite reached those levels. As is clear from the plot, other surveys show rising Trump numbers, even if they rarely make the headlines – nevertheless, through clenched teeth, the leftist media has been forced to acknowledge the phenomenon of Trump’s improving popularity in the last several weeks.
So back to this Fox News story “Top financiers want Biden to drop out so Bloomberg can win: ’He has no chance.’” So far, so good. As the planet’s pre-eminent Bidenologist, I would be the last man on Earth to insist that Biden has a chance.
The Fox News story talks about some Manhattan hedge fund fat cat named Cooperman, who is a (presumably now is a former) Biden donor. Cooperman is seeing the writing on the wall for Biden. But then the Fox News story says
For those reasons, Trump maintains historically low approval ratings, meaning a Democrat who can attract enough moderates can win the general election despite a strong economy.
Say what? What “historically low approval ratings”?
This is not Cooperman, whom I wouldn’t know from a hole in the wall, repeating this tripe – this is Fox News. I guess they didn’t get the memo last month.
It is easy to find plenty of stories from the usual suspects alleging Trump is unpopular – for example, in just the 24 hours prior to writing this, there were several. CNN offers “Trump is generally unpopular in California,” in a story that talks about Trump’s successful fundraising, successful campaigning, and high Republican primary turnout.
The Atlantic informs us, “The president’s treatment of immigrants at the border is inhumane and wildly unpopular with Latinos” – this in a story titled “Latino Support for Trump Is Real. And that’s a problem for Democrats.” (That embedded link in the quote from the Atlantic story, incidentally, goes to a summer 2018 story from Guardian, a British publication whose expertise on the subject of Latino politics is, at best, suspect.)
Reading Eagle tells us that “Buttigieg . . . warning that Trump ‘can absolutely win again, as unpopular as he may seem,’” – far be it for any reporter to not work Trump’s supposed “unpopularity” into his stories somehow, even when the stories appear to be about how he is . . . well, popular!
There is more if you look for it, but I will spare you the quotes, since no doubt you get the picture – in the mainstream media, “Trump” and “unpopular” go together like love and marriage, which go together like horse and carriage.
So let’s take another look at these supposed historically low approval ratings. Let’s consider Rasmussen, and compare three years of Trump’s approval ratings to Obama’s first three years:
What do we glean from this chart? First, both Trump (orange) and Obama (blue) started with relatively high numbers, as is typical with virtually all presidents – Obama’s numbers were clearly higher in the beginning than Trump’s, however. Second, both slid down into the 40 plus range—it took Obama a bit longer to get there (about eight months or so), but both Trump and Obama were on virtually identical trajectories. It didn’t help Trump that the Russian collusion hoax was in full bloom from the first day of his presidency.
Third – and here it gets interesting – starting about a year into their presidencies, Trump’s numbers began to trend higher than Obama’s for the most part. This is clear from looking at the chart beginning at around January-February 2018. The data looks noisy given the scale to which the chart was drawn, but keep in mind that most of what looks like up and down spikes are typically no more than 2-3 point variations.
And although Trump’s numbers aren’t always higher (there are days and weeks when the blue line is above the orange one) and the difference is hardly dramatic, the chart unmistakably shows that the historically unpopular Trump is – at least according to Rasmussen – generally more popular than Obama.
This is even more remarkable given that the Democratic-Media Complex was singing odes to Obama throughout the duration of his presidency, while coverage of Trump, outside of a few Fox News shows and a handful of conservative online magazines, was uniformly and viciously negative.
And not even all conservative magazines were there for Trump – remember The Weekly Standard, which dedicated itself to taking Trump down, until it went out of business? Or National Review, which even today is schizophrenic about whether it supports Trump, or opposes him, in its collective soul?
It is more remarkable still, given the two-year Russia Hoax and the subsequent impeachment. In fact, even as the House of Representatives was rushing through the impeachment hearings and votes, Trump’s numbers among likely voters stayed above Obama’s for the most part.
Now, this is Rasmussen. Does it, perhaps, have a pro-Trump (or at least pro-Republican) bias? Do other pollsters show something radically different? Let’s take a look at Gallup.
Remember that Gallup is polling “all adults” here – not “likely voters.” So what do we see? Starting around early summer 2019 (on the right of the chart), Trump’s numbers among “all adults” track Obama’s fairly closely. Even further back, starting around the summer of 2018, Trump’s numbers are only a few points below Obama’s. (The red line is the 50 percent line.) If Trump’s curve were adjusted from “all adults” to “likely voters” (i.e., shifted up by 4-5 points), then Trump’s approval would be comparable to Obama’s beginning sometime in the summer of 2018, and comfortably higher than Obama’s after the summer of 2019.
And Gallup is definitely not a pollster with a pro-Trump bias.
Don’t like comparing Trump to Obama? Let’s compare Trump to Bill Clinton:
This chart shows that Clinton’s first term approval among “all adults” tended to be a few points higher than Trump’s most of the time (hardly surprising – the economy was doing well, no major wars going anywhere, Monica Lewinsky had yet to make an impact on either the meaning of sex or the meaning of “is,” and the pro-Democratic media wouldn’t dream of seriously attacking their man in the White House).
But starting around the summer of 2018 (versus the summer of 1994 for Clinton), the numbers don’t look all that different for many months. Note that even Clinton doesn’t spend much time above 50 percent. By spring of his first year, he was in the 40s and spent most of the remaining time of his first three years there.
In the last few months, Trump is below Clinton – but, of course, Clinton did not have an impeachment to fight in the corresponding time period in his presidency. Even so, if Trump’s curve were to shift upwards by 4-5 points to convert it to “likely voters,” Trump would be running numbers comparable to Clinton – sometimes a bit higher, sometimes a bit lower.
How about Trump compared to Republican presidents? After all, what if we are comparing the wrong things here? Maybe Trump is doing not too shabbily compared to Democratic presidents, but compared to Republican ones, he’s down in the dumps?
George W. Bush’s first term had the traumatic events of 9/11, the Afghanistan war and the second Iraq war, so a comparison would be skewed. But we can compare Trump to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush – and, the best part is, we don’t need to adjust all adults to likely voters since they are all Republicans, and the polling methodology is the same, so we can compare apples-to-apples as-is:
Trump is clearly well below Bush Sr. for the first three years (not that it helped Bush Sr. in the end – unlike Reagan, Clinton, and Obama, who were all reelected comfortably). But look closely at what happens around April 2018 and at the corresponding point in Reagan’s presidency, April 1982. Reagan, of course, is regarded by Republicans (if not by Democrats) as one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century.
Trump is doing as well as Reagan from April 2018 forward – sometimes a bit better, sometimes a bit worse, but it is manifestly clear from looking at the graphs that there are no historically low approval ratings for Trump. With the usual caveats and expected variability due to ongoing events (and, obviously the last few months has impeachment dragging Trump’s graph down), his numbers at this point are pretty much comparable to those of many other presidents in their first term. And Reagan, we should remember, was reelected in a 49-state landslide.
Psst! You! Hey! You over there! Yeah, you! Wanna see a really historically unpopular president? ’Cause I’ve got one right here! How’s about we compare “historically unpopular” Trump to Jimmy Carter?
Trump’s and Jimmy Carter’s approval ratings converged around 15 months into their terms. Then, two years into his presidency, Jimmy Carter nosedived, hitting a rock-bottom 28-29 percent at times, in 1979. How’s that for historically unpopular?
This was due to the 1979 oil crisis (and before the Iran hostage crisis, incidentally, which began in November 1979). The oil crisis and gasoline shortages (and the general late 1970s malaise) explain some, though not all, of the collapse of Carter’s numbers – but the point here is not why they collapsed, the point is that they did collapse – into the kind of unpopularity that Trump’s enemies can’t even dream about for him.
And this is among “all adults”! Imagine what the same comparison would look like for likely voters – i.e., if Trump’s graph were five percentage points higher!
Now, you might think that Jimmy Carter is an outlier for some reason. You would be wrong. Harry Truman, in his first term, hit a low of 33 percent (and then got reelected). Then, in his second term, Truman was hitting 24-23-22 percent at times. That’s right – 22 percent. And you thought Carter was at rock-bottom with 28 percent?
And this brings me to the same conclusion I reached in January: the “unpopular Trump” canard is nothing more than manufactured nonsense by the Democrats and their lapdog media. We have had some pretty damn “historically unpopular” presidents, but Trump isn’t one of them.
You can personally like Trump, you can personally dislike him, you can plan to vote for him or against him, you can argue that his numbers should be in the 60-plus range given the good economy. But it doesn’t change the fact that the “historically unpopular Trump” notion is malarkey, as it used to say on the side of Joe Biden’s bus. Empirical data expressly contradicts it. It is a figment of Trump’s enemies’ wishful thinking, combined with a relentless brainwashing campaign by the media. There are times, though, when it seems like the journalists have even brainwashed themselves.
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George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, D.C. area. He is a contributor to The Federalist and American Greatness.