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539 long timeline

Many have written about how Trump’s mental deficiencies are becoming more and more manifest. A particularly good piece, IMHO, is Susan B. Glasser, Trump’s Wacky, Angry, and Extreme August. Ms. Glasser—who, in apparent karmic retribution for some grievous sin committed in a former life—has felt the need to immerse herself deeply in Trump tweets, summarizes the situation this way:

At first I wasn’t sure that anything about Trump’s frenetic August was really different. There had been many previous months of dysfunction. He has always courted controversy and trafficked in insults. But then I looked at August, 2017 …  And yet the Trump of two years ago was different—to a degree. He was provocative and insulting and fact-challenged, of course, but to a much lesser extent than he is today. Then and now, he was boastful and braggadocious. He picked fights. But there was much less of that behavior over all—the Trump Twitter archive records two hundred and eighty-seven Trump tweets and retweets in August, 2017, compared to six hundred and eighty in August, 2019—and the volume seems to have been turned up along with the frequency. Today’s Trump is not just more prone to misspeaking and stumbling, he is also more overtly confrontational more of the time, more immersed in a daily cycle of Presidential punditry, and more casually incendiary with his words and sentiments. …

Two years ago, the President’s use of Twitter was still so unprecedented that his aides would warn journalists and foreign counterparts not to take it too seriously. But now, as the President’s online pronouncements and stream of daily commentary have almost subsumed regular policymaking, few dispute the significance of having an around-the-clock, unfiltered Presidential feed. It is, therefore, all the more striking that Trump’s major policy preoccupation this past August—his trade war with China—was the subject of his most contradictory, confusing, and hard-to-parse statements. I counted more than forty tweets mentioning China last month. They veered wildly, almost day to day and hour to hour, on whether a deal or a whole new round of tariffs was imminent. On August 23rd, Trump issued a decree that stands out as his most remarkable: at 10:59 A.M., he directed U.S. corporations, via Twitter, to shut down their business with China. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” he wrote. Markets, as they did repeatedly throughout the month of confusing Presidential commentary, swooned.

And so, to cut to the chase, one big trend is enhanced mental aberration. Meanwhile, let’s look at some numbers. Depicted at the top of this post is fivethirtyeight.com’s moving average poll of polls, for polls limited to sampling “likely voters” or “registered voters.”

Subtract the “approvers” from the “disapprovers,” and you get a whopping difference of 10.9 percent—a significant change from the difference on election day in 2018. Now look at this screenshot, which shows the piece of the image above corresponding to August 1 to date. As of August 1, the numbers were 52.8 to 42.9, a difference of 9.9 percent, compared to today’s 10.9 percent.

Every day, the craziness is taking its toll. Only about a thirtieth of one percent per day. But that approval line is gently sloping ever downward. And it’s mighty hard to foresee what might change its direction.

538 August