It was 37 percent yesterday. He regained two points today, but a sub-40 poll is unusual even in the tepid early days of the Trump administration.
This may be the first time a bad poll for Trump is good news for Trump fans, though. If you think the House health-care bill is a “RyanCare” sellout and should be dumped by the White House in favor of something more populist, here’s the “proof” that you’re right:
On March 6th, the day the House bill was released, Trump was at 43/51 in job approval. His numbers rose a bit in the aftermath, possibly due to a surge of excitement that the long-awaited Republican ObamaCare replacement was finally ready, but dropped to 39/55 a week later, perhaps as the public developed a better sense of what was in the bill. As of Saturday, he was at 37/58, the worst rating of his term. Bush didn’t hit 37 percent until early 2006, five years into his presidency.
Trump’s dilemma here is the same as it was last week, when Fox News dropped another gruesome poll on him: Because opinion on health-care reform varies so widely, from hard-left support for single-payer to center-left support for O-Care to a muddle on the right over how far to go with tax credits and Medicaid support, pleasing a meaningful chunk of the public on reform can be nearly impossible. Right now everyone’s annoyed with the House bill because no one’s getting everything (or much of anything, really) that they want. The populist approach, in which Trump would beef up Medicaid and make the tax credits in the bill more generous for his older, rural base, would drive conservative nuts but would at least build support among Democrats and the populist right. As it is, his rating is suffering.
On the other hand, one bad poll doesn’t a trend make. No other survey this month has Trump doing any worse than -11 in net approval. Gallup had him at -21 two days ago. The RCP poll average doesn’t show any major downturn either since the House health-care bill emerged. Trump has slipped since March 6th — but only a bit:
On March 6th, he was at 44.5/49.5, a net approval of -5. Today, he’s at 43.8/50.2, a net of -6.4. There’s momentum in the wrong direction, but nothing remotely like what Gallup is seeing. (Since the RCP average incorporates Gallup, it may be that the slight downturn in RCP is itself mostly just a product of today’s terrible Gallup numbers.) In fact, since the bill was released, Gallup’s the only poll in which he’s done worse than 43 percent approval, which is about par for the course during his presidency so far. That may be because, unlike most pollsters, Gallup samples adults generally, not registered or likely voters. When Nate Silver looked at the polling on Trump’s approval last month, Gallup’s numbers were among his most dismal even then — and, Silver noted, probably not coincidentally it seemed to be that Trump’s worst polls got the most media attention, a phenomenon that’s repeating today with all the buzz about the Gallup numbers. I think it’s legit to raise an eyebrow at Gallup given that the downturn in Trump’s rating has coincided with the health-care push, a significant shift if it turns out to be part of a trend. But that’s the thing. There’s really no evidence yet that it’s part of a trend. It may herald a trend, but for now it’s one bad poll. Shrug.