On Friday he touched 45.1 percent in the RCP poll of polls. Today he’s up a tick to 45.3. The last time he had seen 45 percent in RCP was February 21, 2017.
It’s remarkable, and maybe not coincidental, that he’s hitting new heights in approval at a moment when House Democrats are closer to impeaching him than they’ve ever been. The past month has been consumed with chatter about the Mueller report’s evidence of obstruction of justice, about Bill Barr misleading Congress by concealing Mueller’s concerns about his summary, and about a so-called “constitutional crisis” triggered by the White House moving to exercise executive privilege to block subpoenas on a range of issues. Result: Trump’s gone from 43.1 percent average approval in late April, which is standard for him, to 45.3 percent now, his highest number in two years. The reason Pelosi’s nervous about pulling the trigger on impeachment is that she fears the political dynamic will force Republicans and right-leaning independents to circle the wagons even more tightly around POTUS.
I wonder if this data doesn’t prove her right. The noisier Democrats seem to get about blowing him up, the better his numbers turn.
The truth could be more prosaic, though. The big story in electoral politics since late April, when Trump’s numbers began rising, is Joe Biden’s big splash into the presidential race and momentary domination of the field. Maybe some right-leaning indies are watching that, tasting a little early bile at the thought of a Biden presidency, and hugging Trump more tightly. Or, if you prefer your theories even more prosaic, how about the latest blockbuster jobs report on May 3? “Unemployment rate falls to the lowest since 1969” is a headline that should be good for an extra point or two in presidential job approval.
If you’re a pessimist, though, you could always point to the fact that RCP’s poll of polls doesn’t adjust the polls it tracks for “house effects,” as FiveThirtyEight’s tracker does. The difference can be significant and explains why FiveThirtyEight usually shows poorer numbers for Trump than RCP does. For instance, the very Trump-friendly Rasmussen poll currently has POTUS at 50/49 in approval. RCP includes that 50 percent number in its tracker as-is but FiveThirtyEight “adjusts” it for its pro-Trump lean and translates it to a “true” approval rating of 44/50. In FiveThirtyEight’s poll of polls, Trump *isn’t* at a two-year high. He’s at 42.4 percent, up since late April but not at a level that’s unusual for him to have reached. He was at 42.5 percent as recently as February. It may be that Trump’s surging polls at RCP are an artifact of that site’s methodology for calculating its average and little more. When both RCP *and* FiveThirtyEight show him at two-year highs then we’ll know he’s breaking out.