No one is a louder or more aggressive cheerleader for President Donald Trump than Trump himself. The president, now 73, uses his favorite social media outlet, Twitter, to not only attack and defame his political opponents but also, to brag about his “accomplishments” or his poll numbers. In a report for the Daily Beast, Julia Arciga and Sam Stein note that Trump has tweeted his poll numbers on 28 separate occasions during his time in office. But upon careful analysis, the Beast reporters stress, the polls that Trump is bragging about — when taken as a whole — actually illustrate how unpopular he is.
Analyzing the 28 polls that Trump has tweeted since being sworn into office in January 2017, Arciga and Stein report that they show an “average approval rating” of “49.07%.”
“In other words,” Arciga and Stein write, “even the president’s cherry-picked data shows that he hasn’t broken through with the majority of the country.”
Moreover, the Daily Beast journalists add, those 28 polls “are hardly a scientific sampling of Trump’s job approval numbers” because they “skew heavily towards pollsters — one in particular — that tend to draw a more sympathetic result for the president.”
The “one in particular” that Arciga and Stein are referencing is Rasmussen: 22 of the 28 polls were conducted by Rasmussen, which has tended to be more favorable to Trump than others pollsters.
None of that is to say that Trump won’t win a second term in 2020. Arciga and Stein observe that past presidents who had approval ratings below 49.07% around their 888th or 900th day in office were reelected, including Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Obama, for example, “was at 43%” in a Gallup poll on “his 889th day in office.” But they quickly add that “Trump, of course, is not actually hovering around 49.07%.”
“His latest Gallup number, taken 877 days into office, is 43% approval,” Arciga and Stein note. “And the rolling average of all poll numbers — not just the selective chosen Rasmussen surveys — has him in an even worse position.” Factoring in “538 averages” from a long list of polls, they observe, Trump’s average approval rating was at 42.2% on July 1.
Of course, a president’s popularity can fluctuate. The late President George H.W. Bush enjoyed stellar approval ratings, according to Gallup, during 1991’s first quarter, including 82% approval in January 1991 and a whopping 89% approval in March 1991 — only to be voted out of office in November 1992 thanks to an economic downturn in the United States. And the fact that Trump is unpopular with Americans on the whole doesn’t mean that he isn’t popular among his hardcore base. The Americans who are proudly wearing their MAGA hats at Trump rallies tend to be a demographic that is likely to show up on Election Day: older, white, conservative, living in a small town or a rural area. As horribly flawed as the modern Republican Party is when it comes to ideas and policy, it is great at turning out its base.
But as the Beast’s report demonstrates, the polls that Trump has been bragging about aren’t nearly as impressive as he would like them to be.