We’ve reached a sufficiently advanced degree of polling awareness among blog readers, I think, that most can fill in this blank correctly now without needing more information: “The president just touted a new poll from ____________ showing that his job approval is soaring.”
There’s only one possibility. Even contributors to the enthusiastically pro-Trump American Greatness site have come to be wary of it:
Trump's job approval has been increasing a bit since the shutdown ended, but the relentless focus on the Rasmussen poll is just wrong. It has a much too pro-Trump filter that exaggerates his support among likely voters. https://t.co/oRyj1Lgkhn
— Henry Olsen (@henryolsenEPPC) February 11, 2019
To put Rasmussen’s new number in perspective, the highest rating Trump has ever seen in RCP’s poll of polls is 46 percent, and that was two weeks after he was sworn in. Not only has he never had a stretch where he averaged majority approval, he’s never been close.
Still, the Rasmussen number is interesting and encouraging within the context of their own trends. FiveThirtyEight calculates a pro-Trump lean in Rasmussen’s polling of five points, meaning that the “adjusted” number in the new Rasmussen data would be 47/48 — not bad at all by Trump standards. It was less than a month ago that he’d sunk to 43 percent in Rasmussen, a brutally low mark for a pollster that typically has him in the high 40s or better. It seems he’s clawed back all of the ground he lost during the shutdown and added a few points to boot. His SOTU speech, which was praised even by some of his critics, may have given him a little bounce and Rasmussen’s picking it up.
There’s evidence in RCP’s average that he’s regained a bit of lost ground too:
He’s jusssst about back to where he was at the start of December after enjoying a dip below the political Mendoza line of 42 percent. And that’s not all due to Rasmussen’s gaudy number. The Harris Interactive poll had him at 47 percent in a recent survey, another high mark by the usual Trump standards.
That’s the good news, that the shutdown seems to have done no lasting damage. If you want the less good news, check FiveThirtyEight’s polling average. The latest Harris poll had Trump slipping to 45 percent; that equates to an “adjusted” number of 41, his status-quo job approval for most of the past year. The only other post-SOTU poll came from YouGov, which produced an adjusted split of 42/55 — again, right in line with where Trump was throughout 2018. For the moment, Rasmussen’s number today is the only evidence that he’s getting a bounce from the SOTU. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
In the meantime, Jay Cost wonders what might befall America if Trump can’t get that approval rating up before next November:
I am worried that voters are willing to elect a would-be socialist over a president they have never actually liked. More important: I am worried that they won’t even recognize that this is what they are doing. That is how little confidence I have in the discernment of American voters — they won’t connect the dots and realize that the Democrats are calling for a government takeover of pretty much everything. I am worried that the people have ceded to the ideological fringes of both parties the power to select the two-party nominees, and then choose between them based on their view of the incumbent administration — whether that means electing a celebrity television star like Trump or a socialist like Bernie…
This president needs to get his act together and start behaving like a president is supposed to. Of course, he probably will not do that, which means he is going to limp into 2020 with anemic approval ratings. And then we might finally discover whether America is actually on the brink of a socialist moment, one spurred on by an ideological fringe and accepted by a disengaged, ill-informed public.
Exit question: A man who’s excited that his polling has recovered from the depths of the shutdown period probably isn’t eager to let a second shutdown to happen, right? Or am I mistaken, and he’s actually thinking, “If my numbers dropped and then recovered once before, they’ll surely do it again”?