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.