Trump’s approval ratings achieve a modest comeback

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
President Donald Trump: Those who support him are impressively steadfast.

Back in January of 2016, before the first primaries or caucuses that led to his eventual nomination and election, Donald Trump bragged that his supporters were so loyal – far more loyal than anyone else’s – that (video of him bragging here) he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s like incredible.”

It was like incredible. It’s still like incredible, for the majority of Americans who disapprove of him and who find frequent confirmation of their disapproval from things Trump does and says. And Trump hasn’t, so far as we know, shot anyone on Fifth Avenue since becoming president. So, technically, we cannot fully test his claim. But, leaving aside the hyperbole, his boast has turned out to be basically true.

Most Americans don’t like him, don’t agree with him, don’t trust him, don’t support him, didn’t vote for him. And they find constant confirmation in his performance as president that they were right not to want him in the Oval Office. But those who do support him are impressively steadfast. For confirmation of that, this is the latest of my occasional reviews of the president’s approval ratings.

As usual, I’ll rely on Gallup, but also look at the Huffington Post average of dozens of approval polls. A month ago, the last time I wrote about his approval ratings, Trump’s Gallup disapproval had hit a new high of 62 percent, and his approval had sunk to a new low of 33 percent, which were also the worst numbers for a president at that stage in his first term in the history of such polling. As of that last check-in, it was possible to imagine that the dam was breaking and that, without even shooting anyone (so far as we know)  Trump’s support was collapsing.

But no. His Gallup approval/disapproval never got worse than 33/62. His rating has staged a modest comeback and now stands at 37/57. I don’t mean to flatter myself. But, unlike Trump, who never mentions poll results or other information unless it is flattering to him, my commitment to providing facts even when they show his approval rating rising is part of my journo-job. End of self-congratulation.

Still, 37/57. Twenty points “below water,” as the smarties like to call it, is still a terrible rating. And the HuffPost average hasn’t snapped back as much, although his current average of 38.8 approval is still better than his worst number on that scorecard, a month ago, of 38.0.

What might it take for bottom to fall out? It’s hard to speculate. But if you’re walking down Fifth Avenue and you see Trump, run.

Here’s the Gallup fever chart, and here’s the HuffPost average.

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Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/28/2017 - 10:08 am.

    It’s interesting

    in the same sense that observing a big spider is interesting, that approval ratings for the Current Occupant have crept upward a bit. I’ve read elsewhere that, for White House staff, reining in the President is much like running an adult day-care center. That he remains addicted to providing the public with what are essentially the intellectual ruminations of an unsophisticated 4-year-old via Twitter, and still has millions of loyal supporters, suggests that there was much truth in Hillary Clinton’s characterization of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” Among Hillary’s several shortcomings as a candidate was her failure to realize that using such a phrase is pretty much the antithesis of “how to win [votes[ and influence people,” but that doesn’t negate the basic truth of her characterization.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/29/2017 - 01:59 pm.

    When you’re at the bottom

    there’s no place to go but up.
    ‘Higher’ can still be pretty low, and he’s still in uncharted negative territory for presidents historically.
    Also note that the standard error of measurement for most polls is around 4%, so I would question whether the increase is more than just random variability.

    • Submitted by Paul Pope on 11/30/2017 - 04:43 am.

      Why Trump Appeals to Supporters

      In talking to my friends who support Trump, I have concluded that Trump supporters are extraordinarily selfish people who care more about the tax cuts they might get than about the good of the country. I worry that putting a monkey in charge of the U.S. will lead to some great catastrophe, such as a nuclear war or stock market crash. If Trump really did get help from the Russians in his election, he is a traitor to his country and so are those who voted for him.

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 11/30/2017 - 10:12 am.

        I wholeheartedly agree Paul.

        A few hundred possible bucks from a possible tax refund to my Conservative friends (I sometimes wonder if they are friends) is more important to them than aiding in causes that would help the country. They are hard core ‘individualists’ who ride a thin line when it comes to their rights. I asked some if they are okay with poor road conditions and have heard some say road repair should be privatized. When I ask how much are they willing to pay to have the roads in front of their place repaired out of their pockets. Then what if their neighbors won’t pay to fix their road? That’s the end of the conversation at that point.

        Trump might do anything since he’s a loose cannon, a runaway train with no throttle, and as bad as it is, it will get worse, it’s not as if it can get worse, it will.

  3. Submitted by Howard Miller on 11/28/2017 - 03:49 pm.

    still underwater, politically drowned.

    old folkwisdom in polling is you can get 2/3ds of people to agree to just about anything, if you word things to lead them there.

    since when is it considered an improvement to jump from 33 to 37% in polls? Nothing changes about your political influence or power, until you get a majority who have your back. Trump is the worst recent US political mistake, and we’ll fix that, hoping for sooner than later. Most people agree with that.

  4. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 11/28/2017 - 04:37 pm.

    Trump Supporters

    From my experience with Trump voters, they retain an unshakable loyalty to him because they just don’t care about what a majority of Americans think about him and don’t pay attention to anything that is remotely critical or unsupportive of him.

    Most adults learn that there is no virtue in always “saying whatever you think”; it seems however that most Trump supporters relish his ravings on Twitter and that he is simply “telling it as it is” no matter how bizarre or inaccurate or childish the taunts and insults. And when you believe that Mr. Trump is the perennial victim of “fake news” and that “all the media are against him” (except Fox News) it becomes pretty easy to live in Mr.Trump’s fantasy world where he and his supporters alone are virtuous and all others deserve contempt.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/28/2017 - 11:47 pm.

      “From my experience with Trump voters, they retain an unshakable loyalty to him because they just don’t care about what a majority of Americans think about him and don’t pay attention to anything that is remotely critical or unsupportive of him.” It looks like the reason Trump won is that Democrats didn’t care what people in this country thought.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/29/2017 - 09:48 am.

        A majority of the voters in this country

        voted for the Democratic candidate for President.
        Trump won because of the vagueries of the Electoral College, not because of public opinion at large.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/29/2017 - 09:12 pm.

          A majority of the voters in this country did NOT vote for the Democratic candidate for President – just about 48%. And if so many people were not upset with Democrats, Trump’s personality would have prevented him from winning.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/30/2017 - 09:28 am.


            A PLURALITY of voters voted for Clinton — a MAJORITY of voters voted against Trump.
            Machst nicht.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/30/2017 - 09:41 pm.

              “A PLURALITY of voters voted for Clinton — a MAJORITY of voters voted against Trump.” A majority of voters voted against Clinton as well. And again, a plurality happened to vote for Clinton for various reasons, including, but not limited to, Republicans not voting in California and several candidates who most likely took potential Trump’s votes.

              • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/03/2017 - 08:57 am.


                Please clarify how we can have too majorities on the same issue?

                “a MAJORITY of voters voted against Trump.” A majority of voters voted against Clinton as well”

                • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/03/2017 - 01:47 pm.

                  Both Trump and Clinton got less than 50% of the votes so more than 50% voted against either of them – which is a definition of majority voting against a candidate.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/29/2017 - 04:29 pm.

        “Democrats didn’t care what people in this country thought.”

        I thought that a large part of Trump’s appeal was that he said what he thought without regard to what others might think. At least, that’s how I understand “not politically correct.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/30/2017 - 09:41 pm.

          It was a large part of his appeal but there were other reasons…

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/01/2017 - 02:00 pm.

            Other Reasons?

            Such as what? His strong grasp of economics, as evinced by his stunningly successful business career? His nuanced views on foreign policy? His long record of public service?

            Trump supporters voted for him because they liked seeing a crass, ill-mannered, spiteful boor run for President. As many-or most- Trump supporters will tell you, he “said what they were thinking.” They liked that he was not constrained by the norms of political conduct that have developed over the centuries.

            I’m sure you’re familiar with the Russian expression “nekulturny.” Literally (to explain to others), it means “uncultured,” but it has the broader meaning of vulgar, ill-mannered, or just unfit for polite society. Can you think of a more apt term for Trump? Can you think of a term that explains him better?

            (Incidentally, when I say you’re familiar with the term “nekulturny,” I just mean you know what that particular stream of phonemes means. I don’t mean to imply that it would describe you.).

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 12/01/2017 - 08:44 pm.

              I am glad you are familiar with the Russian language and I would generally agree with your interpretation of this word and even with its application to Trump. Nor would I actually have taken this as directed at me personally but I appreciate your clarification.

              However, your classification of Trump is not an explanation or, more precisely, just a partial explanation. You are correct that many (and maybe even most) of his voters (which, by the way, is not the same as supporters because many people voted for him without supporting him personally) liked his being politically incorrect and saying like it is. But the main question is why it was so attractive and the answer is because it is so rare in general among all politicians and non-existent among Democrats who have been courting a totally different segment of the population at the expense of these people many of whom have supported Democrats not that long ago.

  5. Submitted by Joe Musich on 11/29/2017 - 05:22 pm.

    As he spews…

    more hatred and bile his approval improves ! Wow ! Is Roger Stone right hate works better then love.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/30/2017 - 09:30 am.

    Margin of error

    Given that the standard error of measurement of most polls is around 4%, I’m not sure that this change is anything other than random error.

  7. Submitted by Tim Walker on 11/30/2017 - 11:12 am.

    But he hates the right people!

    Trump’s appeal to his hard-core base, it is becoming increasingly obvious, is that he hates the same things and the same people that they do.

    The base will accept that they will get their health care taken away, that the tax reform bill will screw them over, etc. as long as the targets of their long-standing hatred (liberals and other educated elites, immigrants, dark-skinned people, Jews, and females who (gasp!) have sex, to name a few) will get screwed over even more.

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