Bounce? Two polls show Trump's job approval rising after Mueller's findings were revealed

Four words: Glide path to reelection.

Well, no. But there is some encouraging news — emphasis on “some.” If you thought Trump being cleared on collusion might free up some “soft” opponents to change their minds about him, there’s early evidence you were right. Reuters:

The Reuters/Ipsos poll measured the public reaction in the United States on Monday and Tuesday, after the report summary was released, gathering online responses from 1,003 adults, including 948 who said they had at least heard of the summary findings…

Trump’s approval rating got a slight boost, with 43 percent of Americans saying they approved of his performance in office, the highest he has polled so far this year and an increase of 4 percentage points compared to a similar poll last week.

A bounce! But not a huge one thus far, which makes sense given the poll’s other findings. Asked whether they believed “Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election,” 48 percent still said yes despite Mueller’s findings, a decrease of just six points over the previous week. Whether that declines further and by how much will probably depend on how assertive Mueller’s actual report is in clearing Trump of collusion. If the thrust of it is that there’s little reason to believe Trump knew anything about contacts with Russia, his bounce might grow. If the thrust is that there’s plenty of reason to believe he knew but not enough evidence to support a finding of probable cause on a conspiracy charge, not so much. In fact, I wonder in that case if Trump’s job approval might actually start to drop.

The other poll that’s detecting a bounce is his old favorite Rasmussen, which has POTUS up five points to 50 percent after beginning the week at 45. Fifty percent isn’t unusual for him in a Rasmussen poll, though: He touched that mark on March 8 and touched it again on February 18. It’s possible, of course, that his numbers are still on the way up and he’ll reach 55 percent or whatever in Rasmussen’s data next week. He’s not there yet but the trendlines are good.

These aren’t the only new polls out there, though. Take a peek at the top of FiveThirtyEight’s tracker for the latest numbers from various pollsters, bearing in mind that Bill Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings was released on March 24. Comparing numbers from different pollsters before and after that date will give you a sense of any bounce. On March 23-24, YouGov had Trump at 41 percent approval; today it has him at, uh, 39. Between March 20-23, Harris Interactive put Trump at 45 percent; since Barr’s summary was released, they still have him at 45. Morning Consult found a very modest bump of one point between March 22-24 on the one hand and March 25-26 on the other. Pew happened to have a poll in the field on the day Barr’s summary became public:

The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 20-25 among 1,503 adults, finds that 40% approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, little changed since January (37%). The survey was largely completed when Attorney General William Barr announced March 24 that special counsel Robert Mueller had found no evidence that Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Trump’s job rating was not significantly different in the days following the release of Barr’s report (March 24-25) than before his announcement (March 20-23).

All in all, FiveThirtyEight sees a change of just 0.3 percent on average between last Thursday and today, and it should be noted that even the two polls that are seeing a bounce for Trump (Reuters and Rasmussen) don’t have him at unprecedented levels. He’s been at 43 percent before in Reuters and, as noted up top, at 50 percent in Rasmussen. There’s nothing to panic about yet since Mueller’s full report hasn’t even been disclosed, but a weak bounce after it’s released and the findings have been fully digested by the public would be discouraging for 2020. Trump needs to be higher than 43 percent job approval to have a good shot at reelection next year and Russiagate has been one of the heaviest weights on his presidency. To finally be rid of that weight and still not be able to attain higher altitude suggests this plane has more serious problems than Mueller’s probe.

On the other hand, Trump’s really no worse off approval-wise than Obama and Clinton were at around this time in their own presidencies before they went on to comfortable reelection victories. All he needs is for the economy to continue to perform at an unbelievable pace for the next 18 months. Piece o’ cake.

Here he is today reassuring America that the White House isn’t going to defund the Special Olympics. How the hell electoral poison like that ended up on the policy menu for even five minutes, I have no idea.