It’s a major win for the president in one of the most important measures of presidential popularity there is.
A new Gallup poll showed President Donald Trump with a positive approval rating for the first time ever, with a slim plurality of Americans approving of his job performance.
The poll, released Thursday, found that 49 percent of Americans approved of the job that Trump is doing, the same as a poll from last month. However, that number is up 5 percentage points from a poll taken in early January.
For the first time since Gallup has been polling, it’s also higher than his disapproval rating, which stands at 48 percent.
Also of importance: 43 percent of independents approve of the job Trump is doing, another high-water mark for the president.
“Trump’s elevated job approval rating comes at a time when Americans are increasingly positive about the state of the nation,” Gallup said in a news release.
“The percentage who are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. had already improved from 36% to 41% in a Jan. 3-16 poll, before the rise in Trump’s job approval rating in late January.
“The latest survey finds a further increase in national satisfaction, with 45% now satisfied, the highest since February 2005.”
(The Gallup poll was done via telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,028 U.S. adults Feb. 3-16, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.)
This increase in national satisfaction with Trump has been propelled entirely by Republican support, which can be read as a good or bad thing. In December, Republican national satisfaction was at 58 percent; it’s now at 80 percent.
Both Democrat and independent satisfaction have remained stable. For independents, satisfaction increased slightly from 37 to 38 percent over that period. Democrats, who have been and remain professionally unhappy about everything in the Trump era, found it in their collective (collectivist?) hearts to move from 12 to 13 percent satisfaction.
The downside, of course, is that this means the president’s rise in the polls is being fueled by people who would already be natural Trump supporters. The upside is that could mean a more motivated Republican base.
That’s more important than you might imagine; a Reuters poll released Wednesday found significantly less voter motivation in Trump’s strongholds — particularly rural and exurban areas — than in urban areas typically dominated by the Democrats.
It’s one poll, of course, and an early one at that — but motivating the base to come out to vote is potentially an issue for the Trump campaign and being able to point to a solid economy, a low unemployment rate and a booming stock market is a pretty cogent argument for not letting the Democrats back in the White House.
Whatever the case, the highest national satisfaction numbers since the Bush administration is excellent news for the president, and the winning didn’t stop there.
“Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index, a summary of ratings of current conditions and whether the economy is getting better or worse, is +41,” the news release said.
“This is essentially the same as last month, but both readings represent a return to the prior high of +44 in October 2000.”
Also: “63% of U.S. adults rate current economic conditions as either excellent or good. Just 9% rate them as poor.” Sixty-one percent of respondents also thought the economy was getting better compared with 33 percent who said it was getting worse.
Another potential win for Trump, depending on how you spin it: The biggest problem facing the nation, according to the survey, was the government, at 32 percent.
Normally, Republicans would be fist-pumping over this one. If there’s anything the GOP is known for, it’s wanting to get government out of the way.
The problem is that in the era of Trump, many could have a problem with the government simply because its most visible figure is the Notorious DJT.
Indeed, Gallup notes most of the answers don’t have to do with government overreach or inefficiency. Instead, they center on answers having to do with the president, Democrats or Congress. The lack of bipartisanship and polarization were also concerns — although those are problems that, in the current political climate, will fix themselves once you get all the little children in the world to clap their hands simultaneously.
Whatever the case, Trump’s approval is trending upward in spite of (or perhaps because of) a show-trial impeachment circus and the unpleasant specter of an avowed socialist being the odds-on favorite to take the Democratic nomination.
It could, however, also be a sign that this has always been Trump’s real support level, courtesy of a phenomenon called differential nonresponse.
I’ve explained differential nonresponse in other contexts before, but in case you missed it, I’ll let Gallup do the heavy lifting this time.
As the polling organization put it, it’s “evidence of a change in the respective percentages of partisans willing to participate in public opinion surveys at a time when political events may seem more favorable to Republicans than Democrats.”
In short, the reliability of a poll is wholly dependent on who responds. If one side doesn’t like how political events are going — or additionally, doesn’t trust polls or polling organizations for whatever reason (coughcough2016electioncough) — it won’t respond, thus skewing the results.
If you want to read deeply into one poll, this could be a sign impeachment has made more conservatives determined to come out of the woodwork and express their support, meaning this has been where Trump’s support level has been all along.
Whatever the case, Gallup noted “an increase in the percentage of Americans identifying as Republicans (32% in the past two surveys, up from 28% in the prior two surveys), along with a decline in the percentage identifying as independents (41%, down from 43%) and Democrats (27%, down from 28%).”
In short, this was unalloyed good news for Trump and his campaign.
”The significance of the trend is clear,” Gallup noted. “An approval rating near 50% greatly increases Trump’s chances of being re-elected, a prospect that seemed unlikely with his approval stuck near 40% for most of his term.”
Advil consumption was already pretty high at Democratic National Committee headquarters, what with Bernie-mania sweeping the party and every moderate self-destructing.
A desultory glance at this poll and I fear there may be a switch to Vicodin for at least a few days.
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