By Jim Ellis
March 6, 2017 — In the early part of Donald Trump’s presidency, a wide chasm has opened surrounding his job approval polling ratings.
From the past 10 surveys, presented through seven different political pollsters over the period stretching from Feb. 21 thru March 1, the various results span from a plus-5-point differential all the way to minus-12. This is an incredibly large answer gap for one consistent question, but a simple explanation for the discrepancy is becoming evident.
The pollsters: Gallup (3 surveys), Rasmussen Reports (2), YouGov/Economist, Ipsos/Reuters, Politico/Morning Consult, Survey Monkey, and Public Policy Polling, were many of the same firms that continually tested the 2016 presidential campaign. As we remember, most of the results predicted a small national margin in Hillary Clinton’s favor, which is exactly what happened, though the individual state polling, particularly in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even Florida was badly flawed.
Gallup’s Feb. 27-March 1 survey finds Trump’s job approval at 43:51 percent positive to negative. Over exactly the same period, Rasmussen Reports sees the spread at 52:48 percent favorable to unfavorable. The others report as follows:
• YouGov/Economist – Feb 25-Mar 1: 41:50 percent
• Ipsos/Reuters – Feb 24-28: 46:48 percent
• Politico/Morning Consult – Feb 24-26: 50:45 percent
• Gallup – Feb 24-26: 42:54 percent
• Rasmussen Reports – Feb 22-26: 51:49 percent
• Gallup – Feb 21-23: 43:52 percent
• Survey Monkey – Feb 17-23: 44:54 percent
• Public Policy Polling – Feb 21-22: 45:48 percent
By far, Gallup, which has continually polled presidential approval since the Harry S. Truman Administration, is clearly the most negative Trump pollster, posting ratios of 43:51, 42:54, and 43:52 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, Rasmussen Reports, which also polls regularly, finds the president with consistently more positive ratings: 52:48 percent and 51:49 percent.
For Gallup, even when polling at exactly the same time as another pollster, the Feb 24-26 period opposite Politico/Morning Consult, the two arrive at distinctly different numbers. During this particular sampling phase, Gallup finds President Trump’s job approval upside down at 42:54 percent, while Politico/Morning Consult produces a 50:45 percent positive result.
The differences, of course, come from the sample selection process and, in regard to these 10 studies, the selection criteria variance is easy to determine. The most negative Trump polls, from Gallup, YouGov/Economist, Ipsos/Reuters, and Survey Monkey all survey random adults, in quantities of 1,500 (Gallup, YouGov/Economist) all the way to 10,639 (Survey Monkey via Internet). In contrast, the more positive Trump pollsters query US likely or registered voters (Public Policy Polling, 941; Rasmussen Reports, 1,500; Politico/Morning Consult, 2,000). The differentiation reveals that the voting public has a much better view of the president’s job performance than do a mix of voters and non-voters.
The Public Policy Polling data do report an upside-down 45:48 percent job approval ratio among likely voters, but this organization always skews negative for just about every political candidate or office holder they test, Democrat and Republican alike. The fact that Trump is only three points down here is actually a relatively positive sign given that it’s sourced from this particular research firm.
In conclusion, the Trump job approval pattern finds, as is often the case, that a distinct difference of opinion exists between voters and non-voters. From a purely political perspective it becomes obvious that the voter views are the more relevant.
Friday we reported that Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has scheduled the congressional replacement special election for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s at-large seat for May 25.
Democrats quickly announced that their nominating convention was scheduled for this past Sunday, March 5. Republicans followed suit, declaring their statewide nominating convention for today, Monday, March 6.
Eight Democrats have indicated a desire to be nominated at the party gathering, including only two sitting elected officials, both state representatives. But it was Rob Quist, born in Cut Bank, Mont. 69 years ago, who scored an upset 90-69 vote victory. More on that tomorrow.
On the Republican side, nine individuals will ask the party delegates for support, including two sitting state senators, two former state senators, and two incumbent state representatives. But, the man who claims to already have majority support from the delegates is 2016 gubernatorial nominee and businessman Greg Gianforte.
As of tonight, this special election campaign will be officially underway.