Warning: There’s a probably misleading “fact” lurking a couple of paragraphs below.
I haven’t updated my Trump Approval Ratings Watch in almost a month. It’s just too boring.
I still check the FiveThirtyEight average every day or two. And I would still say that the day-to-day or week-to-week changes are insignificant. Movement of a couple of points in either direction is usually offset by the opposite within a few days. Take a look for yourself: The numbers show Trump still below water (more disapprovers than approvers) as he has been since shortly after inauguration Day.
He had what looked like a steep drop for a couple of days right after he caved on the government shutdown in late January. His average approval number fell below 40 for about a day, then recovered and returned to the same-old range he has maintained for a year now, between 40 and 43 percent approvers, between 55 and 52 percent disapprovers. This is a weighted and adjusted average maintained by FiveThirtyEight.
I try to understand this. Can’t quite. I usually write about this once a month or so, and was beginning to wonder whether even that was too often to bother. Then yesterday (see the warning at the top), CNN’s Chris Cillizza put up a post headlined: “Trump is more popular than ever before.”
Unless and until that’s confirmed by a bunch of other polls, that’s what I’m calling “probably misleading.”
It’s the latest number from Gallup, which shows Trump at 46 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval. Even if this were correct, it would still not be a great number by historical standards. But it’s the best Gallup has ever found for Trump. Here’s the Gallup history of Trump approval ratings.
But, as you can see, compared to the FiveThirtyEight average (which includes many approval measurers, including Gallup) it’s an outlier to the high side. So when I saw the CNN headline, I decided to revisit the average. And then write this, in case you attach too much importance to what Cillizza wrote.
So maybe Gallup is right (and, of course, like all such polls, it claims only to be a snapshot in time, surrounded by a significant plus/minus margin for error). But there are no other polls of the ten or more than FiveThirtyEight includes in its average that have Trump’s approval that high or his disapproval that low.
The FiveThirtyEight average-keepers would suggest that Trump is still trapped in the same range he has occupied for more than a year, roughly ten points under water, with a regular wobble up a couple and down a couple.