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Trump’s approval ratings show an uptick

According to the average of many approval rating polls by fivethirtyeight.com, which I track relentlessly and usually report no change, Donald Trump is going through an upward surge in his approval ratings over recent days.

It’s not game-changing in turns of his always-low approval rating, and it’s all happened over a very few days, but considering the usual small movements in this statistic, it looks kinda large.

Per the Nate Silver operation, as of Dec. 19, 43.4 percent of Americans approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, compared to 52.1 percent who disapprove. Check out the graphic portrayal here.

If you’re new to this exercise, you’ll note that Trump is under water, meaning there are more disapprovers than approvers, and by a negative margin of 8.7 percentage points. Of course, that’s bad. Any president would rather have more approvers than disapprovers.


But in Trump’s case, this is good news compared to where he’s been, and if his recent improvement continues it will be much bigger good news. Trump hasn’t had an above-water approval number since the first few days of his presidency (as measured by 538) but he hasn’t been as high as 43.4 percent since March of 2017, the very beginning of his term and the end of his brief “honeymoon” of good numbers that every new president enjoys.

The absolute size of the recent improvement is small, but for someone like me, who looks at this measure almost every day, this surge is impressively sharp and, if it continues, will begin to change calculations of the likelihood of his re-election.

(Of course, as you know, the odds-makers have long thought his chances of re-election were reasonably good. But, personally, I did not expect days of discussion of his allegedly impeachable offenses to be helpful to his standing, approval-wise.)

It’s easy to imagine that, for his strongest admirers, the effort to impeach him would cause a doubling down on the approval of some. It’s harder (but not impossible) to imagine what might be causing some of his recent disapprovers to switch sides. But I trust the sabermetricians at 538 to weigh and measure these things as best as can be done.

And, by the way, this is not a gradual rise. It is sharp and has happened over just the last four days. (So it’s reasonable to assume that some who mildly disapprove of Trump are using approval poll questions to indicate that, while they don’t really like Trump any more than they did, they something about the impeachment process is making them like the Democrats less, and this is one way they are expressing that.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 12/20/2019 - 08:53 am.

    The naked electioneering of this impeachment process, coupled with Democrat’s lofty appeals to democracy and the Constitution, rings false to a lot of non-partisans. Like the Russian collusion investigation the last three years, evidence does not fulfill the drama and theater of it. Dems have mistaken their passion and righteousness for Truth, for being on the side of justice, on the right side of history; but to a lot of us it just looks empty, irrational and obdurate, much ado about next to nothing, or rather more like mere visceral hatred rather than a reasoned assessment of the facts.

  2. Submitted by Misty Martin on 12/20/2019 - 10:13 am.

    Eric:

    What kind of Christmas present is this?!? That the poll numbers are up for President Trump?!? Bah humbug, I say!

  3. Submitted by BK Anderson on 12/20/2019 - 10:27 am.

    I’m sure that after being told by Trump (and various conservatives) that the polls are “fake!” and unrepresentative of reality, we’ll now see Trump re-tweeting this little uptick in his fortunes. One would think the level of cognitive dissonance would be fatal!

    We will have to wait and see if this uptick is real and durable, but there are a lot of people out there who have some rather perverse ideas about politics. Witness the strange WI recall affair involving Walker.

    Impeachment of a president is an extraordinary event and likely unsettling to particular personality types. Add in the enraged, inflammatory language about Dems and impeachment being blatted 24/7 on rightwing hate radio and Fox News–which is where many independents get their, um, “news”–and it’s not surprising that some Trump waverers would come back home to the safety of Trumpian authoritarianism.

    In any event, leaders lead and one cannot worry overmuch about someone whose “thinking” is that Trump was doing a poor job before being impeached, but impeachment has somehow rendered his performance more acceptable. This is irrational thinking, based on emotion.

    Donald Trump forced impeachment upon himself (and the country) by maximally confronting the newly elected Dem House at every turn and being absolutely unable to keep away from his endless attempts to cheat in his campaigns for office. If a (white) minority faction of the American people now wish to normalize this abusive behavior by condoning it, that is really up to them. The degeneration and failure of constitutional democracies has happened before, and will happen again

    As Lincoln said, “a house divided cannot stand” and the conservative movement has worked decades to bitterly divide the country and make it ungovernable. But Donald Trump’s clear anti-constitutional behavior cannot be ignored, whatever the political costs to the party that seeks to hold him accountable.

    If conservatives really believe Trump’s impeachment will be a great political benefit to them, then they should be delighted beyond measure by it and urge House Dems to “please proceed”. But conservatives admonishing Dems how much they are hurting themselves politically rings rather hollow, in my view.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/20/2019 - 03:53 pm.

      That accurately expresses my own views. It is evident to me that the Republican Party and its adherents believes there is and ought to be only a single political party and the rest of us need to fall in line with what its leaders and propaganda organs say and think. There’s no difference between the Republican party and the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union except there’s still a viable large “D” and small “d” alternative in this country for the time being.

      It is also evident to me that Trump supporters, including the Republicans elected and sitting in Congress and the Senate, think that it’s no crime for Trump to obstruct a Congressional investigation or inquiry or to withhold evidence or even tamper with witnesses or evidence, like the “perfect transcript” of the July 25 conversation which is a false document misrepresented as the real thing. I don’t doubt that the Republican Senate will abjectly pander to this criminal by holding a sham trial. These people believe that a duly elected branch of the government can be regarded as illegitimate because it is supposedly “partisan” to their subjective minds. But if Trump manages to get renominated and re-elected to office, we have truly lost this country as a democracy and a republic.

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 12/21/2019 - 09:29 am.

        Yes, American conservatives now either believe (or must profess to believe) that neither of the two articles represent impeachable offenses. They have to maintain this, since the evidence against Trump is irrefutable to an objective mind, or one that was presented with such evidence in an ordinary trial for criminal conspiracy. That they would normalize this abusive behavior in order to protect “their” president is, however, the smaller problem.

        The bigger problem is that they now clearly believe that there is no greater enemy to the nation than the Dem party, and they now think it legitimate to enlist the aid of literally anyone (foreign or domestic) to defeat the Dems. Thus they enthusiastically applaud allying with the Russian nationalist regime(!) of the quasi-dictator Putin against “liberal” Americans. In their minds, WE are now the greater enemy than an adversary power! The risks of selling out our national security interests to an authoritarian regime are less than the “danger” of a Dem government in the US.

        I agree that today’s conservative movement deeply desires a one party state and does not see “liberal” government as legitimate. Their problem, of course, is that they are now a political minority faction in the US and understand they can never obtain a national majority for their reactionary vision of the country. This is why they have been forced to turn against democracy itself and rely upon (indeed, celebrate!) every anti-democratic feature of the Constitution, from the electoral college, to the paralyzed senate, to gerrymandering. Trump and his enablers (like McConnell and Graham) do not even make a pretense that Trump could win the popular vote. Democracy is now their enemy, it has to be.

        The ultimate problem with this approach is that their “victories” (such as their 5-man conservative majority on the Supreme Court) do not possess democratic legitimacy and thus their actions do not have the consent of the governed. Their now total reliance on the most anti-democratic elements in the Constitution brings the document into growing disrepute. But that is also a risk this minority faction is willing to run in order to maintain political control over the nation.

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 12/21/2019 - 09:59 am.

        And now I see reports that Trump has just sent out a fundraising email which asks: “Are you a Democrat or an American?”

        QED as to my argument above.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/23/2019 - 10:01 am.

          And remember: saying anything derogatory about Trump or his supporters is divisive, symptomatic of the deep rifts in American politics, and is apt to make undecided voters vote for Trump.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/23/2019 - 03:15 pm.

    538 currently has Trump at 42.8 and falling.

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