This Morning’s Portrait of America: Five Takeaways


Please take a look for yourself at this morning’s Washington Post-ABC News poll: here and here. No huge surprises, but lots of material for sober reflection.

The first question was, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?” Those who “approved” were asked to make a binary choice: did they “strongly approve” or did they “somewhat approve”? Ditto those who “disapproved.”

To provide more enlightenment about why people answered the general question the way they did, two further questions were posed: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Trump is handling the economy?” and “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of Trump as a person?”

Aardvark’s Takeaways

  1. Overall approval is trending up—chiefly among the same demographics that liked him to begin with, such as white folks without a college degree. This is appalling.
  2. It looks like the ceiling for overall Trump approval is holding at 40 percent. This is reassuring, but only “somewhat reassuring,” not “strongly reassuring.”
  3. Of the 40 percent of Americans who “approve” of Trump’s presidency, five eighths—or 25 percent of the total population—“strongly approve.” This is the Fox News audience. These are the people who say, “he may be a narcissistic jerk, but he’s OUR narcissistic jerk.” These are the good folks who yell “Lock Her Up!” and thus express their intense yearing to live in a banana republic. These are most of my kinsmen.
    I assume that if Trump is shown to be a criminal, these people would not care. They pretty much already know he’s a criminal.
  4. Setting aside the 10 percent of Americans who “somewhat disapprove” of Trump’s presidency, the number who “strongly disapprove”—46 percent—exceeds by six points the total number of approvers.
    One would suppose that people most likely to vote in 2018 are people who either strongly approve or strongly disapprove. The new data show that there are 46 of us for every 25 of them. Blue wave’s still a-comin’.
  5. Twenty-five percent of the electorate are wishy-washy (“somewhat approve” or “somewhat disapprove”). Their wishy-washiness arises, no doubt, from a myriad of causes, the most prominent of which are either functional illiteracy or general satisfaction with the economy. (Sixty-one percent have an “unfavorable impression of Trump as a person” but only 48 percent “disapprove of the way Trump is handling the economy.”)

By and large, then, the wishy-washies know that Trump is a jerk but think their own economic circumstances are good—and are happy to put up with a jerk if he brings them lower taxes. Put yet another way, for the 25 percent in the middle, it’s not a question of perception—they mostly know that he’s loony-tunes, but they think that personal gain is more important than public good.

  1. My name is Aardvark, not Nostradamus, so I don’t know what is going to happen. Facts and logic are all I have. Facts and logic would suggest that if Trump goes ahead with his trade war, and the economy goes to hell in a handbasket, he will lose all the wishy-washies as well as some material part of the Fox-loving 25 percent.