Trump Approval by the Numbers


You may well wonder why has been so silent of late.  Part of it was a move from Merida, Mexico to Chapel Hill, NC.  But, that was only part of it.  The other element is the immensity of what is wrong with the Trump administration and its actions.

When one adds the events that make Paul Ryan seem like a Republican moderate compared to his party’s Freedom Caucus in the House, it is beyond dismal.  And, every press outlet in the US (except Fox Noise) lays it all out before us every day.

But, its seems time to say a bit.  Mostly it is about where Trump is strong and weak and where his opponents are strong and weak.

[Note: This was written before the passage of the TrumpDoesNotCare bill.  Commentary on that will follow shortly.]


As much as the candidate and his minions rejoice over his “HUUGE” victory, it is important for those of us who think he is a flaming asshat to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost two million votes.  Trump only has a following among a minority of Americans voters.  These supporters are loud and they are proud, but they are a distinct minority. That said, he is still the president, and he has four years to do considerable damage to this nation and, potentially, the world.

So, how is it most useful to partition the electorate to understand how best to approach political strategy over the next four years.  First, those who voted Democratic in 2016 can likely be convinced to vote Democratic again.  Second, those who voted for Trump, whether true believers or those willing to hold their nose when they pulled the lever because of a myriad of reasons (traditional Republicans who wanted control of the White House as well as Congress; anti-choice voters worried about the Supreme Court; NRA voters; just pissed off voters who figured it couldn’t get any worse).

I would argue that the real group of importance are those who did not vote.  While WikiLeaks and FBI Director Comey did their part, poor turnout from groups active in 2008 and 2012 basically killed any hope of a Clinton presidency.  This reality become clear when one looks at the most recent polls on Trumps approval ratings.


Below you will find the results of 10 recent polls with items about Trump’s approval rating.

Latest Polls

Poll Approve /Disapprove /Undecided Spread
Gallup NEW!

Apr 30 – May 2

1,500 Adults

42 52 Disapprove +10
Rasmussen NEW!

Apr 30 – May 2

1,500 Likely Voters

49 51 Disapprove +2
YouGov/Economist NEW!

Apr 29 – May 2

1,500 Adults

43 47 11 Disapprove +4
Politico/Morning Consult NEW!

Apr 27 – Apr 30

1,998 Registered Voters

48 45 7 Approve +3

Apr 27 – Apr 29

1,500 Adults






Disapprove +11

Apr 25 – Apr 27

1,500 Likely Voters

47 53 Disapprove +6

Apr 24 – Apr 27

1,051 Adults

32 68 0 Disapprove +36

Apr 21 – Apr 27

15,235 Adults

46 52 2 Disapprove +6

Apr 24 – Apr 26

1,500 Adults

40 55 Disapprove +15

Apr 23 – Apr 25

1,009 Registered Voters

45 48 7 Disapprove +3

Note that when one averages the spread for polls of adults, one gets an average disapproval of 13.7 percentage points greater than the percentage for approval.  When one does the same for polls of registered or likely voters, then one sees an average spread of 3.5 percentage points between approval and disapproval.

When one decides to be somewhat conservative and deletes the largest spread for each type of poll (36 for adults; 11 for potential voters), those averages go to 9.2 percent spread for adults and a 2.7 percentage point spread for potential voters.

As I think these numbers demonstrate, keeping Democratic voters involved is important.  However, moving those non-voters into voters is where the one gets much more “bang for the buck.”

This distinction is in part what give minor asshats like Mark Penn, now a commentator for Fox Noise, some semblance of logic for arguments like that below that feed into Trump’s “fake news” narrative.

On “Fox & Friends” today, Mark Penn, a pollster and former chief strategist for the Clintons, agreed that the polls are again underestimating Trump, with approval ratings often in the low 40s or even lower.

Penn explained that the polls are finding approximately 95 percent of Trump’s supporters are still backing him, which means his approval rating should be close to the 46 percent of the popular vote he received in the election.

He added that about 10 percent of the people who didn’t vote for Trump approve of him, which should bump him up several more percentage points.

Penn said another problem with polls is that they generally haven’t covered Trump’s message points – like tax relief, jobs, sanctuary cities or the border wall – just the opposition’s.

When taking all that into consideration, he said he would set the president’s approval rating at 48 percent.

“I think that’s a realistic assessment of where the electorate is,” Penn said. “It’s not as bad as people think. Nobody, him or the Democrats, has crossed 50 percent yet. That’s what they should be fighting for.”


So, non-voters are an important group, but what subpopulations among Americans may be most important.  The distinctions here between likely voters and others are not discernable from the poll data available to bloggers like me.

These results come from Public Policy Polling’s April 17-18 poll of 648 registered voters.  These results indicate that it is largely “stand by your candidate” when one looks at approval by party

Political Affiliation

Dem    Rep      Indep

Approve          15%     79%     40%

Disapprove     81%     14%     56%

Uncertain        4%       8%       4%

It seems that the best opportunity for Dems would be wooing back the 15% of Dems who approve of Trump and working on Independents.  The Independent numbers are, however, somewhat deceptive because some of those folks are libertarian and some are Berners, and neither group necessarily votes D.

Women and Men

Women           Men

Approve          36%                51

Disapprove     55%                45

Uncertain        9%                  4

The female differential seems promising.  But, the only reason HRC won the women’s vote in 2016 was the votes of women of color. Trump won among white women.


Roughly 60% of Hispanics disapprove; just over 40 of Whites disapprove; almost 90 percent of African Americans disapprove.  The real issue is getting persons of color registered and to the voting booth.


Most age groups are relatively evenly split in their approval and disapproval of Trump. Only among voters 18-29 does one see a tremendous spread of 35%.  According to the best data I can find, roughly 50% of younger voters turned out, but almost ten percent of them voted for a third-party candidate or cast no vote for president. Youth are the age group most vociferously opposed to Trump, However, again it is an issue of turnout and moving third-party voters to the Dems.


We need to face the fact that Trump will not be defeated by his own mistakes or greed.  Trump voters, whether enthusiastic or tepid in their support, will not abandon Trump of the Republican party.  Even if he completely screws his supporters on taxes and health care, they will buy his tale of woe about who else is to blame for all that.  We can’t fight Trump for less educated whites or people who are set adrift by the changing nature of our economy.  They will still follow the person who best channels their anger.

Instead, we have stable elements of the Dem coalition, much of which are largely found in cities, the east, and the west.  Also, in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the Dems must mobilize those traditional constituencies and younger voters in the urban areas to turnout and overwhelm the “Trump forever” voters.

Remember this major asshat (or maybe general asshat) really won by around 100,000 votes in a few states.  The tasks set out above are not impossible.

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