By Jim Ellis
May 2, 2017 — President Trump’s retaliatory attacks against the latest major media polls may actually be more correct than even he alludes. The nation’s chief executive predictably came out swinging against ABC and NBC News regarding their newly released polls that found just over 40 percent of their sampling groups approve of his job performance, the worst of any president after 100 days in office.
Trump reminded his audience that those two particular polls were wrong in their election predictions, but the survey representatives quickly shot back to point out that their pre-election projection of Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote was in fact accurate. These pollsters are correct in this particular assertion, but we all know that the individual state polling, particularly in the key Great Lakes states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, was badly flawed and completely missed the mark.
Digging deeper into the current and past election polls does produce a little known factoid, however, and one that the president should find comforting. While the ABC and NBC representatives say their data find Trump to be the most unpopular short-term president, they fail to draw upon a critical comparison factor from their own previous polls.
While a 40-54 percent unfavorable rating (NBC News/Wall Street Journal current poll), and the 42-53 percent similar index that the ABC News/Washington Post survey currently registers are clearly poor, these numbers actually represent a major boost for the president when compared to the data these same institutions and others were reporting directly before the election.
In their final pre-election poll, ABC News/Washington Post (Nov. 2-6, 2016; 1,937 likely U.S. voters) projected candidate Donald Trump’s favorability ratio at 38-60 percent, with a full 50 percent saying their negative view should be categorized as strongly held. The last time NBC/Wall Street Journal tested pre-election candidate favorability came during the Oct. 10-13 period and found Trump’s approval at an even worse 34-62 percent favorable to unfavorable.
Though Trump’s approval ratings were in much worse condition right before the election, the controversial Republican nominee was still able to win the November Electoral College vote and, of course, the presidency. With his numbers improving a net 11 and 14 percentage points (ABC News/Washington Post and NBC News/Wall Street Journal, respectively) when comparing the most current surveys to their recent past data, the low 40s job-approval scores should be viewed in a different and more positive context. Trump still has a long way to go to break into positive territory, but he is ascending and his improvement must be considered significant.
While the general populace views the president’s job performance negatively, the ABC News/Washington Post poll finds him less “out of touch” than either the Republican or Democratic Party. Asked whether the president is considered out of touch with everyday Americans, 58 percent agreed. But, 62 percent said the same of the Republican Party and a whopping 67 percent said that about the Democratic Party.
Furthermore, the news organizations stated, as part of their current analysis, that 96 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Trump anticipate doing so again in the future. This type of loyalty factor is imperative for the president because it is his hidden base from the critical states that made the difference in the November vote. If his electoral base remains in tact, he has a legitimate chance of seeking and winning re-election, irrespective of what the traditional polling numbers and their analysts believe and report.
While certain other presidents, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, specifically, were often said to be “Teflon” presidents because the attacks simply slid from them, Trump is closer to the opposite, yet he still benefits from the same ultimate effect. In his case, Trump could be considered the “Velcro” president, because the attacks stick to him … but don’t seem to matter. Despite the slings and arrows, he so far always reached the finish line.
Donald Trump is proving that he understands base politics, as these latest approval polls confirm. Clearly, this must continue if he is to produce a successful presidency.