I’m treating this as confirmation of the Rasmussen poll that Trump and Drudge were touting on Monday. No, not the 52 percent approval rating — he’s never had a number like that in any other poll — but the fact that Rasmussen found that he had completely recovered from the hit his approval rating took during the shutdown. Could the longest shutdown in American history really have faded so quickly from voters’ minds?
If you believe Gallup: Yeah, absolutely.
In fact, not only is Trump back to pre-shutdown levels of support here, he’s within a point of the highest number he’s ever posted as president.
The most interesting detail is that this *isn’t* a pure bounce from the State of the Union. Gallup notes that his approval had risen while they were conducting their survey even in the days before the big speech. Once the shutdown ended, it seemed, people’s view of their economic prospects began to tick back upward and carried POTUS’s approval rating with it. What’ll be really newsy is if he manages to squeeze past 44 percent in the next round of polls and establish a new baseline in the mid-40s. Forty-four has been his de facto ceiling for the past year. If he can crack it, his chances of reelection will start to look sunnier.
“It’s just one poll, though,” you say. Well, yes. But he’s also returned to pre-shutdown approval levels in RCP’s poll of polls (which incorporates Gallup’s number, it should be noted):
He was at 43 percent on December 3, he’s at 43.3 percent today. It’s not just Gallup and Rasmussen driving that increase either. A new Morning Consult poll has Trump at 45/51, a good number by his usual standards. How excited you want to get about all that is up to you, as FiveThirtyEight’s poll of polls is more bearish on him. They “adjust” polls to try to account for whether that particular pollster leans right, like Rasmussen, or left. They have Trump at 40.8 percent today, which also represents an increase of nearly a point and a half from his worst numbers during the shutdown but leaves him short of his pre-shutdown mark by about the same margin.
One thought that occurs to me is how much the very bad news cycle Democrats have endured might be helping him. Presidential job-approval polling is normally a straightforward referendum on the president himself but this week it might have been more of a choice in the minds of people polled thanks to Democratic shenanigans, with Trump benefiting accordingly. They’re dealing with the fiasco in Virginia; the, ahem, quirkier parts of the Green New Deal and its disappearing FAQ about people who are “unwilling to work;” and the Ilhan Omar anti-semitic clusterfark. Rarely do Democratic embarrassments come so fast and furious that they crowd Trump himself out of the news but that’s been the case lately. Maybe the cumulative effect has been to move the needle slightly but perceptibly on his approval by convincing some Trump skeptics that he’s not so bad given the alternative. That would be promising if so, since 90 percent of his campaign message next year will be that the Democrats are socialist lunatics.