Trump’s Popularity Falters Despite Good Job Numbers

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump’s popularity is sliding despite continued positive economic news.

The unemployment rate, 4.1 percent, is at a 17-year low and consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2000. These are all indicators of economic growth, which Trump continues to highlight.

The White House, however, is no fan of approval rating polls. Trump hasn’t hit 40 percent approval in the Gallup daily tracking poll since September.

A Pew poll released Thursday was especially damning.

It showed that Trump’s public approval rating is 32 percent. A lower rating than the past five presidents had at this point in their presidency.

The poll found that among all demographic groups Trump’s approval has decreased, including those that strongly backed him in the election. White, non-college graduates’ support of Trump was 56 percent in February, and has since dropped to 46 percent.

The Pew poll also found Trump faces a historical low approval rating among the opposing party. Just seven percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning Americans support Trump. During December of Obama’s first term, 18 percent of Republican and Republican leaning Americans supported him.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has brushed aside these negative polls.

“The numbers we’re focused on are the ones that actually impact day-to-day life for all Americans. That’s what we’re focused on; certainly not silly polls that frankly weren’t much use to us in the election, and certainly, I don’t think are now now,” Sanders said in a September press briefing.

FiveThirtyEight, however, pointed out in a January feature that the criticism of approval polls isn’t entirely fair.

“Whenever you see an article that cites polling data, you should add or subtract the true margin of error and consider how the story would change. For instance, the polling average we calculated above had Trump’s approval rating at 41 percent. The true margin of error on this number, based on the rules-of-thumb above, is about plus or minus 3 points. What if Trump’s approval rating were really 44 percent? Or 38 percent? How much would this change the story? In this case, I’d suggest, it wouldn’t change the story all that much. Trump would still be unusually unpopular for a president-elect.”

“By contrast, national polling averages during the final week of the campaign had Clinton up by 3 to 4 percentage points. By the rules above, the true margin of error on this number was about plus or minus 6 points. That means Clinton could really have been ahead by 9 to 10 percentage points — or that Trump could have been up by 2 to 3 points. The story would be completely different, in other words, based on even modest errors in the polling. But very little of the horse-race coverage that I read conveyed that sense of uncertainty.”