Even an idiot could have predicted this. In fact, one did. From Wednesday:
Already drafting my “New polls show no change in Trump’s job approval” post for Friday
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) August 22, 2018
It took a few days longer than expected for the results to arrive but here they are at last, via NBC:
Between August 18th and August 22nd — the day after the news involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen — the president’s approval rating stood at 46 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove.
In a separate NBC/WSJ survey, conducted August 22nd through August 25th, Trump’s approval rating was 44 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. That’s within the poll’s margin of error.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his team at Hart Research Associates, called Trump’s approval rating “remarkably stable” despite the Manafort and Cohen developments, both of which became public on the same afternoon last Tuesday.
“Remarkably stable” is the right term, and not just for this data. Check out how steady Trump’s job approval has been since June 12 in RCP’s average of multiple polls:
With one teensy exception (a rating of 42.8 percent on August 4), he’s never been below 43 percent or as high as 44 in two and a half months. His numbers are fluctuating within a band of one point. As time wears on, opinion about Trump might become so hardened and polarized that the RCP graph becomes a perfectly flat line.
On the other hand:
I don't want to overcommit to this point because both their "before" (46%) and "after" (44%) numbers were pretty good for Trump compared with other polls. Nonethless, their headline doesn't match their data.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 26, 2018
Like my pal Karl says, with the midterms approaching, his approval may begin to tick upward as right-leaning independents start to circle the wagons around the GOP. The interesting question is what happens to them after Election Day if the blue wave strikes. How much is POTUS’s aura of electoral invincibility from the big 2016 GOP sweep propping up his numbers now among tepid Trump supporters? If Republicans take a beating, how many GOP “leaners” will conclude that he’s doing the party more harm than good?
If you’re searching for something he might conceivably say or do to knock his approval below 43 percent, you’re likely searching in vain. Although…
President Donald Trump’s lawyers and a cadre of informal White House advisers claim they’ve convinced him not to pardon Paul Manafort — but White House officials expect the president to do it anyway.
The president’s characterization of his former campaign chairman as a victim and “brave man” is being read by aides as a signal that Trump wants to use his unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort, according to eight current and former administration officials and outside advisers…
Gingrich and others are telling the president it would cause a political firestorm that establishment Republicans and Democrats alike would rally against, and would make Trump look like he is dangling a quid pro quo to potential witnesses in the myriad investigations involving the Trump campaign, creating further legal exposure for the president.
Not only would a pardon likely not spare Manafort from prison in a state pen, it would tie POTUS to him needlessly. As countless Trump surrogates have noted this past week, nothing Manafort’s been charged with has anything to do with Trump. His numbers won’t nosedive if he does it but you can imagine some of those tepid Trump backers giving thumbs down to the move. And it wouldn’t require a huge hit to his approval to meaningfully affect the party’s fortunes in the midterms. He’ll probably hold off on a pardon until after Election Day, for precisely that reason.
The news isn’t all good in NBC’s data, by the way. When asked if Trump’s been honest and truthful about Russiagate, the public splits 38/56. Just 46 percent of Republicans, not even a majority, “strongly agree” that he’s been honest. Meanwhile, in a Fox News poll released a few days ago, public approval of Bob Mueller’s investigation jumped 11 points in the past month, from 48 percent in July to 59 percent now. Trump’s spent the better past of this year hammering at Mueller and the DOJ on Twitter to try to preemptively discredit any unfavorable findings, and it worked for a time. Polling did show growing skepticism of the probe. But between the indictments of the Russian intelligence agents last month and Manafort’s conviction this week, perceptions may be shifting back from “witch hunt!” to “Mueller’s getting results” and “just how crooked is Trump’s inner circle?” That’s another reason why his numbers might eventually take a hit — after the midterm, when it’s safe for partisans to express unhappiness with their own party again.