Let’s Do It by the Numbers

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The graphics are from fivethirtyeight.com, around 9:00 AM, Eastern time. Five takeaways:

  1. After a little blip last week, the difference between Trump disapprovers and Trump approvers is once again widening, and now stands at 8.4 points.
  2. Trump approvers are holding pretty steady, while Trump disapprovers are slowly climbing. In other words, a discernible sliver of the population is changing from “I don’t know” to “I disapprove.” One may hazard the guess that a lot of them are in the “white people over 65” demographic—which went decisively for Trump is 2016 but has now flipped.
  3. Compare the two graphics. As of today, 52 percent disapprove of Trump but only 48.5 percent want Democrats to control Congress. That tells me that 3.5 percent of our population are rock-ribbed Republicans who now hate Donald Trump’s guts. Not good news for Orange Man.
  4. The Orange Man approvers and disapprovers add up to 95.6 percent of the population. The remaining 4.4 percent—and God bless them, because it takes all kinds to make a world—probably lack enough literacy to read a newspaper. By contrast, the second graph implies that 10.9 percent of the country are not sure whether they want Republicans or Democrats to control Congress.
  5. Finally, given the binary approve/disapprove choice, 43.6 percent “approve” of Trump. But only 40.6 plan to vote for Republican senators and congressional representatives. Yet another piece of evidence that the Trump “approval” number masks some weakness.

Trump’s Poll Numbers

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Know yourself, know the enemy, said Sunzi—we used to call him Sun Tzu.

Last night David Brooks annoyed the pee out of me by repeating the claim that Trump’s approval rating has increased from 39 percent to 49 percent—and attributing that alleged rise to impeachment.

Now, you may wallow in defeatism, or you may try to learn the facts, both the good news and the bad news. If you wish to do the latter, please look at Aaron Blake, Trump exits impeachment apparently unscathed as his poll numbers reach highs.

Best to read Blake’s piece, not my shorthand summary. But if you really want a shorthand summary, here it is.

  1. Trump is currently at the top of his historical range of “approval.” What the top of his historical range is, depends on which poll you are talking about. But it’s pretty clearly south of 49 percent.
  2. It is clear that impeachment has not hurt Trump’s approval rating.
  3. It is unclear whether impeachment has helped him, or whether his current position at the top of his range arises from something else, like the persistently high stock market.
  4. If we dig a little deeper, we see that there has been a narrowing between those who “strongly disapprove” and those who “strongly approve.” There are 42 percent of the former and 35 percent of the latter.
  5. Fact number 4 is very concerning. It’s also not readily explicable, other than by reference to the economy and the stock market.
  6. But the gap between those who strongly disapprove and those who strongly approve is still at seven percent.
  7. The fact that only seven percent more people hate his guts than love his ass is not exactly a polling triumph for Trump.

Additional Fun Fact: after Clinton’s impeachment his approval stood at 73 percent.