It must be that child separation policy that everyone seems to love.
Well … that, or the gangbusters economy. Yeah, probably the gangbusters economy. Which soon may be even more gangbusters than it is right now.
Not to rain on POTUS’s parade, as this is great news, but imagine topping out in job approval at 45/50 despite rolling out one sweet jobs report after another for months. Republicans like to point to the fact that Obama was also mired in the mid-40s approval-wise for much of his presidency, which is a fair point: In our hyperpartisan age, all presidents are destined to muddle along in that range, it seems. But remember that at this point of Obama’s presidency we were less than two years removed from the financial crisis, with O’s White House watching for “green shoots” economically and touting “recovery summer.” Now the flowers are in full bloom. And still: 45 percent.
This is even better news than his job approval:
From Gallup: “The satisfaction rate, which Gallup has measured at least monthly since 2001, has now topped 35% three times this year — a level reached only three times in the previous 12 years (once each in 2006, 2009 and 2016).” If the takeaway here feels familiar, it’s because CNN published a similar poll just last month noting an 11-year high in a similar metric. In that case 57 percent said that things were going well in the U.S., the highest number since midway through Dubya’s second term. To put it differently, this is the second time in a little more than a month that a major pollster has found higher levels of national satisfaction than were reached at any point of Obama’s presidency.
It’s mostly the economy but not just the economy, of course. The summit with Kim Jong Un has also given POTUS a nudge in key metrics, although less of one than I expected, to be honest. His ceiling on job approval appears to be 45 percent across multiple polls except for Rasmussen. On the other hand, Obama reminds us that a president certainly can get reelected with mid-40s job approval for most of his first term, even in a poorer economy than this one. Last month, in fact, I wondered whether the CNN poll might be a better measure of POTUS’s reelection chances than his job approval was:
[N]ormally a job approval figure is treated as an estimate of what share of the population wants the current president to continue in the job. If so, 41 percent is … not good. But in Trump’s case, people may be treating job approval less as a metric of whether they want things to continue as they are now and more as a metric of what they think of Trump personally. Trump’s persona is so overbearing, it’s hard to separate the man and all of his drama from his job performance. So when you ask people if they approve of the job he’s doing, some may take it as a question about him personally and respond reflexively with, “No, he’s a dick.”
But does that mean they wouldn’t vote for him again in 2020, believing that the state of the country is better than it’s been in a long time?
CNN asked people who disapproved of Trump at the time whether they did so due to policy reasons or due to personal characteristics. Fifty-four percent said the latter versus 37 percent who said the former. If I were a White House aide I’d take that as good news, based on the theory that voters ultimately behave rationally, i.e. selfishly, when they’re in the booth. Has your life been better since the current president took office, yes or no? If the answer’s yes, it’s awfully hard to vote no because you don’t like his Twitter habit or whatever. The fact that Gallup’s seeing a 12-year high in positivity about the direction of the country is another point in favor of his reelectability.
Via the IJR, here’s Joy Behar this morning saying of the child separation policy, “you can’t enjoy your life right now when you know that this is happening.” We’ll see what the polling on the direction of the country looks like next month.