How Popular is Trump, and Where?

We certainly have an unusual president. History will record his personal style as unprecedented.  There are very few official press conferences, but many opportunities to take questions extemporaneously (usually while on the way to the presidential helicopter or other opportunities in front of reporters). Add to those the (hundreds, now thousands of cumulative) Tweets that are issued on a near-daily basis. The role of Presidential Spokesperson has virtually vanished, with the president his own representative ... the way he likes it.

In terms of popularity, polls show Mr. Trump is very popular, to an almost unassailable degree, with between 40% and 45% of the country; and very unpopular, identically as firmly entrenched, with between 50% and 55% of the US citizens. There is a range, of course. One of the best assessments of this is the "538" website, which has an ongoing real-time graph with the ranges and averages clearly demarked over time. The FiveThirtyEight website (this is all from Wikipedia) focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, and economics. Created by Nate Silver in early 2008, it is widely read, and is a licensed  feature of the New York Times online. The number "538" refers to the number of electors in the Electoral College.

As of writing this blog, Trump is "approved" by 42.1% and "disapproved" by 53.3%, an eleven percentage point deficit. His highest overall margin of approval in the last two years, from late summer 2017 up to the present (August, 2019) is right now. The numbers have shown a very slow improvement from wide gap of 58%-38% disapproval in the summer of 2017 up to the current level of 53%-42% disapproval. The numbers over these last two years have been remarkably steady, opinions seem to be baked in, but with a slight trend line improving his (negative) standing. His "highest" ratings are from the Harris Poll, which shows him at a 53/47 disapproval, and his lowest are from the Morning Consult Poll, which shows a 55/41 disapproval.

Another major compiler of polls is Real Clear Polls, which shows Trump as a disapproval rating of 53.2% to an approval rating of 43.3%. So there is little difference between two of the major public opinion poll aggregaters, showing about a ten point disadvantage for the president.

What really counts is the person, a real person,  he will be compared to. Also the location of the voters, the people who actually get out and vote, not the overall national numbers from a poll. The opinion polls in 2016 showed Ms. Clinton with a 3% point advantage over Mr. Trump. But Mr. Trump defeated candidate Clinton by a narrow but decisive number of votes in key states, and this resulted in his decisive Electoral College win of 306-232. He won where he needed to win, in the Midwest states, to counter Ms. Clinton's huge advantage of over 3 million votes nationwide (66 million to 63 million). With the Electoral College, it's not how many votes one gets, it's where they are.

At the present "gap" on approval ratings, if (and that's a big if) the current gap in the president's approval were to hold in a real election against a real opponent, a rough and tough extrapolation of a 10% lead in the approval-disapproval polls would suggest an advantage of around ten million votes nationwide to his opponent. Ten million out of approximately 130-135 million votes. But again, and this is the key factor, it's where the votes are, not how many overall. The Democrats need a candidate who can speak to the Midwestern states and a few purple areas including Georgia. If the farm states and the Midwestern industrial states stick with Mr. Trump, he could very well win a second term while losing even bigger nationally.

1 Response

  1. JK James George
    Via email from BL: Your introduction of partisan politics disgusts me. We finally have a president who has gotten our economy moving again and who has the courage to stand up for Americans, and seeing people like you do their best to trash him sickens me.

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