Swing State Pres

Sunday, May 20, 2018

BTRTN: Trump's Bump: Context for His Modestly Improving Approval Rating


We are dispensing with the weekly “SaturData Review” feature to focus more on the fast approaching mid-term elections, but we will still do the “Month in Review” and occasional mid-month updates, which cover the same ground: the latest political numbers and the events that are shaping them.

Donald Trump’s approval numbers have risen in May, not dramatically, but still perceptibly.  He has spent his entire presidency in a notably narrow rating range, a 9-point band from 39% to 48% (using our aggregation method, which you can find down below, and monthly data).  He is now in the higher end of that range at 45%.

TRUMP MONTHLY APPROVAL RATING

2017
2018

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
J
F
M
A
M
Approve
48
47
44
44
42
41
40
39
40
40
39
39
42
43
42
42
45
Disapprove
46
50
51
52
53
55
56
57
56
56
56
56
55
54
54
54
52
Net
2
-3
-7
-8
-11
-14
-16
-19
-15
-17
-17
-17
-13
-11
-13
-12
-6

Each modern president has experienced much wider swings than Trump in his first 500 days.  In the chart below (and using Gallup data, which is slightly lower for Trump but provides comparability across presidents), you can see that every president since Carter experienced a swing from low-to-high of 20 (Obama) to 39 points (Bush 43), with an average of 28 points.  Trump’s swing, using this data, is only ten points.  This reflects at least three factors:  1) the growing polarization of our politics,  2) the lack of truly meaningful game-changers in Trump’s time (as opposed to the two Bushes, who had the Gulf War and 9/11 to contend with, and 3)  Trump himself, who inspires such intense loyalty and loathing that “natural” floors and ceilings may be in place.

GALLUP APPROVAL RATING AT KEY FIRST TERM MILESTONES
First-term President
Inaug. Day
Day 478
500 Day Range (Low-High)
Just Before Mid-Terms
Mid-Term House Change
Before 2nd Term Election Day
Re-election   Results
Trump
45%
43%
35-45%
tbd
tbd
tbd
tbd
Obama
68%
49%
47-67%
45%
-63
50%
Won 51/47
Bush 43
57%
76%
51-90%
63%
+8
48%
Won 51/48
Clinton
58%
51%
37-59%
46%
-54
54%
Won 49/41/8
Bush 41
51%
65%
51-80%
58%
-8
34%
Lost 37/43/18
Reagan
51%
45%
43-68%
43%
-26
58%
Won 59/41
Carter
66%
41%
40-75%
49%
-15
37%
Lost 41/51/7

This chart also demonstrates the trivial nature of Trump’s recent rise.  While the rise is welcome news for his Administration, for sure, his lowest lows and highest highs are both the lowest of any recent president over their first 500 days or so.  His current numbers – in the low 40’s – are in a range that signal very bad news in the mid-terms, if he fails to push further north.  And the same for his reelection hopes.  The “high” mark of 45% represents trouble for him and is perhaps the most important number.  Unlike each of his most recent predecessors, Trump has at no point had even half of the country on his side at any time.  His predecessor all had a strong majority behind him at some point, ranging from 59% to 90%.  And polls show that a huge proportion of those who disapprove of Trump do so “strongly” – which means that they are unlikely to change their minds.

Trump’s recent “surge” of +3-4 points almost surely can be attributed to the better news emanating from North Korea (Kim Jong-un’s recent threat to cancel the June 12 summit aside).  Whether Trump deserves acclaim for this is a different story.  North Korea was never a prominent part of candidate Trump’s “platform” (he made no campaign promises relating to North Korea that I can find in perusing compiled lists of dozens of such promises).  Unlike his trade, immigration, regulatory and tax policies, he was not the instigator of change.  The recent thaw owes much more to North Korea, under Kim Jong-un, finally achieving nuclear status (on Trump’s watch), and South Korea President Moon’s peaceful overtures to his northern neighbor, than to Trump’s threatening bluster or ramped-up sanctions.  The underlying dynamics would likely have resulted in Kim Jong-un’s new tack no matter who was in the White House.

But the more hopeful environment did happen during Trump’s administration, and he did change the tenor of the dialogue after decades of impasse and false hopes (which may happen here too).  Whether his actions were pivotal or not is a moot point.  Trump has achieved a modest bump in the short term, and he has a great deal riding on sustaining that promise and translating it into true denuclearization in North Korea.  If he disappoints, gravity will begin to act on his approval rating once again.

******************************************************
Here is the complete SaturData chart with accompanying methodology explanations:

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending  May 12
Wk ending  May 19
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
45%
45%
0 pp
- 3 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
52%
53%
-1 pp
- 9 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
- 7 pp
- 8 pp
-1 pp
-12 pp






Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 5
D + 3
- 2 pp
- 3 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+ 9%
+ 9%
0 pp
+ 9 pp
Unemployment Rate
4.7
3.9
3.9
0%
17%
Consumer Confidence
114
129
129
0%
13%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.96
2.95
0%
-21%
Dow-Jones
19,732
24,831
24,715
0%
25%
Most recent GDP
2.1
2.3
2.3
0%
10%

Methodology notes:

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.

For the generic ballot, we take an average of the only two pollsters who conduct weekly generic ballot polls, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist, again for trending consistency.

The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017. The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.  The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP.




No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment