When NBC news released the results of their latest approval rating survey, the overall message for the public was one which certainly came as bad news for the new president. As usual, anything which translated to dark clouds hanging over Donald Trump’s head was the talk of the town and it kept the cable news outlets chattering for hours on end. Comparisons were quickly made to previous administrations, all of them negative. Here’s the headline as framed by NBC.
President Donald Trump’s job approval rating stands at just 44 percent — a record low for a newly inaugurated commander-in-chief — and half of Americans say that his early challenges suggest unique and systemic problems with his administration, according to a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.
In the poll, conducted February 18-22, 48 percent of Americans said they disapprove of Trump’s performance as president and 32 percent said that his first month in office demonstrates that he is not up to the job. Asked about early challenges in the first month of his presidency, 52 percent called the issues “real problems” that are specific to his administration, while 43 percent of Americans attributed them to typical “growing pains” for any new president.
Wow. That’s pretty bad. But there were a lot of portions of that survey which didn’t receive any mention. I started browsing through them last night and was quickly reminded of a quote which is often (though perhaps incorrectly) attributed to Winston Churchill, stating that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. The NBC poll didn’t just ask about the nation’s feelings toward Donald Trump. They covered a number of other powerful figures in Washington DC as well. How did they fare? Let’s take a look.
Before getting to the individuals cited on the above list I’ll mention one figure which didn’t appear in that summary. That’s the approval rating for Congress as a whole. Trump is the figurehead of the executive branch, while Congress is the legislative branch. The approval rating for the combined House and Senate stands at 29/60. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise because for a very long time now Congress has enjoyed rankings which are perhaps only slightly higher than that of Charles Manson. Still, if President Trump can take consolation from anything it’s the fact that the White House is still more popular by a margin of double digits. Also of interest is the “Right Track / Wrong Track” number. Last September it stood at 30/62. This month it’s at 40/51. Not stellar, but at least heading in the right direction.
How about the political parties themselves? The Republicans, sitting at 32/60, are about as welcome as ants at a picnic. In fact, you couldn’t be much less popular than the GOP unless you happen to be… Democrats. They managed to slide in at 31/58.
In terms of the individual power players inside the Beltway, Donald Trump might be able to find at least a small bit of “good news” when the mirror is held up to other influential figures. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan might be feeling rather glum about his 34% approval mark which is even worse than Trump’s. The only thing which might cheer him up a bit is to see that his colleague Nancy Pelosi is sitting at 19. Over on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer are nearly in a dead heat racing for the bottom with rankings in the low to mid teens.
It’s at least somewhat interesting that you rarely hear any of these other numbers discussed on cable news or written about at any length in the nation’s major newspapers. Bad news for Donald Trump is a headline. Bad news for other government leaders (particularly Democrats) seems to be of far less interest. The fact is that the nation is restive at the moment and undergoing a period of serious change. Until we’ve had enough time for Trump’s new policies to be enacted, Congress’s work on those plans to be evaluated and the long-term effects to be experienced by the voters, nobody is likely to be getting a very large thumbs-up from the electorate.
But hey, I don’t want to spoil the party for the mainstream media. You just keep on talking about how unpopular Donald Trump is. That should boost your ratings one of these days.