Saturday, January 13, 2018

BTRTN SaturData Review: Will Trump’s Approval Rating Go Down the S---hole Now?

Tom with the “SaturData Review” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week. 

In the annals of reassuring Presidential proclamations, the top of the list surely goes to Richard Nixon’s infamous “I am not a crook” statement that he uttered in a nationally televised press conference on November 17, 1973.  This was well before he was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate affair; before the House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment; before the “smoking gun” tape; before his resignation in disgrace and before his pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford.  All of those subsequent events make a pretty convincing case that Nixon was, indeed, a crook.  At the time, though, before all that happened, the fact that Nixon felt the need to make such a defense was considered quite damning.  And, of course, his assurance turned out to be hollow indeed.

We now have a new contender for the top spot, with Donald Trump’s own reassuring self-assessment that he is “a very stable genius,” tweeted in response to revelations in the new Michael Wolff book, “Fire and Fury” that make him appear to be quite unhinged.  It is hard to imagine that this self-diagnosis has provided much more comfort to anyone than did Nixon’s self-defense.  We shall see the verdict of history in due course, if not soon enough.

The most recent polling cycles have now fully encompassed the aftermath of the Wolff bombshells, and many of you will be disheartened to learn that the revelations therein appear to have had very little effect on Trump’s approval rating, which dropped only a point, to 42%, this week.  Typically, a full week of national conversation about the President’s mental competence and fitness for office might be expected to have a disastrous impact on his numbers.  But with Trump, not so much.

(A note on methodology: BTRTN calculates our weekly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.)

Which might lead one to think that Trump calling Haiti and Africa “shithole countries” might not do much damage either (we won't know until next week after the next round of polling).  This disgraceful, racist characterization has been denounced by all sides, and has dominated the news cycle unabated since Trump uttered it Thursday afternoon in an Oval Office meeting.  This was on top of a week in which Trump rather stunningly indicated that he “probably” had a “good relationship” with Kim Jong Un; sent out a tweet ripping a surveillance law called FISA that he was supposed to be supporting and was up for a House vote that very day; ripped the Obama Administration for moving the Embassy in London, when it was actually the Bush administration that made the decision; and hosted a public meeting on immigration with congressional leaders in which he contradicted himself repeatedly and left little clarity on his “must haves” for the bill.  He also responded to a simple question on whether he would meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an interview by uttering the phrase “no collusion” seven times in a span of one minute and 27 seconds.  The response made him sound, well, unhinged.

The outright racism of the “shithole” comments – followed by the outright lie in denying he made them (Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham both reaffirmed that he did indeed make them, and they were in the room) – may be another matter.  But then again, are those outrageous comments really any worse than the “grab ‘em by the pussy” Access Hollywood video that preceded by a mere month Trump’s election to the highest office in the land?  Charlottesville?  The Mexican rapists?  The bashing of Gold Star families?  And so on?

Perhaps there simply is no “new low.”  I keep thinking of the roughly 15% of those voters who, as of now, “somewhat approve” of Trump – they support him but clearly with reservations – and when they might flip.  But I have my doubts they will do so based on anything he says.  These folks, at the outset, “strongly” supported him but now are not as solid.  But words only seem to matter so much to this crew – and they hold the keys to Trump’s continued GOP support.  If he loses them, Trump is down into the 20’s in the polls – and the GOP will flee him.

This week the “generic ballot” also dropped back a bit for the GOP, with the Democratic lead inching upward from +7 to +8 points.  Surely the GOP was hoping for more from the tax legislation, and this gap is evidence of a coming Democratic “wave” if it cannot be closed.  Our model shows than an 8-point gap would be enough to hand over the House majority to the Democrats, especially with the North Carolina legislature being sent back to the drawing board by a federal court to un-gerrymander their Congressional districts that were found to be “invidiously” favoring the GOP.   If the Supreme Court rules similarly this term on another gerrymandering case, the Democratic wave could turn into a tsunami.

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending   Jan 6
Wk ending   Jan 11
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
43%
42%
-1 pp
-6 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
54%
55%
+1 pp
+11 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-11 pp
-13 pp
-2 pp
-17 pp






Generic Ballot Dem - Rep
D + 6
D + 7
D + 8
+1 pp
+2 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+18%
+19%
+1 pp
+19%
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
13%
Consumer Confidence
114
122
122
-6%
7%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.64
2.64
0%
-8%
Dow-Jones
19,732
25,296
25,369
0%
29%
Most recent GDP
2.1
3.2
3.2
0%
52%

Trump’s dismal approval rating is particularly shocking in light of the strength of the economy, a condition that usually coincides with approval ratings well north of 50%.  That Trump is not benefiting from the economy – whether he actually deserves any credit for it, which most economists and Wall Street analysts’ dispute – should make the White House shudder for what might happen when the inevitable correction occurs.

POLITICAL STAT OF THE WEEK
Quinnipiac recently ran a poll that included the following question, “What is the one word you would use to describe President Trump's first year in office?  The answers are below.  The numbers are not percentages; the figures show the number of times each response was given, and the table reports only words that were mentioned at least five times.

The color-coding is by BTRTN – red is a “bad” or negative adjective; green is a “good” or positive one, and yellow is neither, that is, basically neutral or non-judgmental.  You can debate our color codes, but if you accept them, 59% of the words were “bad,” 31% “good” and 10% “neither.”

disaster      
69
chaotic       
62
successful    
44
horrible      
28
great         
27
good          
26
embarrassing  
24
terrible      
24
interesting   
23
awesome       
21
excellent     
20
disappointing 
19
failure       
19
outstanding   
15
incompetent   
14
amazing       
12
horrific      
11
awful         
10
different     
10
disgraceful   
10
disgusting    
10
fantastic     
10
surprising   
10
challenging   
9
joke           
9
abysmal        
8
dysfunctional  
8
frightening    
8
dangerous      
7
erratic         
7
idiotic        
7
okay           
7
appalling      
6
crazy          
6
satisfactory   
6
scary          
6
aggressive     
5
catastrophe    
5
change         
5
childish       
5
fair           
5
hopeful        
5
mediocre      
5