Trump approval 46% (?) and 2020 Tidbits


The latest polls on presidential approval has DJT at high of 46% in Gallup’s late April poll.  What does that mean?  It is unclear.  A look at the historical data from Gallup may be helpful.  In the last half of 2018, his rating showed little variation, ranging from 39-42%.  All of this with samples with error rates of +/-4%.


April (17-30)   46%

April (1-9)       45%

March              39%

February          44%

January            37%


December       39%

November       39%

October           40%

September       40%

August              41%

July                   42%

*averaging all polls in one month, except April 2019

In 2019, the range of approval ratings goes from 37% to 46%. These ratings are obviously more unstable in the first quarter of 2019. But, what many of us saw as major events like the April 18 shining light “summary” of the Mueller report by Barr or the Democrats’ reaction seem to have had little effect. 

Looking at the 45% approval in early April should help us understand the 46% level later in the month. One of the shocking things about the early April result was that DJT’s gains from his 39% approval in the prior month came from independents and Democrats.  Rs went from 90 to 91%, while Independents went from 33% to 37%. Democrats went from 4% to 12% (tripling their approval).

In 2019, Independents’ assessments of Trump have varied from around 32% to 39%.  Democrats’ opinions have ranged from a low of 4% to the current high of 12%. A comparable high of 12% was seen in April 2017; but (and this may be a lesson) by June of that year his approval among Democrats had dropped back to 4%.

Some commentators may want to say the jobs report, the GDP report, or the Mueller Report drove these results.  However, that is a hard argument to make when the early April poll done before those things occurred had Trump at 45%.

Also, one needs to remember that “the economy” for a voter is not a GDP report or a jobs report. It is what they see happening to themselves and those around them.  And, 51% of the population approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.

One bit of hopeful news for Democrats comes from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group report entitled “Two Years In.” The interesting aspect comes in the comparison of voters’ choices in 2016 with their current attitudes.

Below I provide text from that report

“Today, an overwhelming majority (93 percent) of people who voted for Sen. Mitt Romney in 2012 and Trump in 2016 and two-thirds of Obama-Trump voters (66 percent) have a “favorable” opinion of the president. By contrast, just 38 percent of Romney-third-party voters and 15 percent of Obama-third-party voters share this sentiment. Just 6 percent of Romney-Clinton and 2 percent of Obama-Clinton voters have a “favorable” view of President Trump.

Only Obama-Trump voters have had a significant change in their view of President Trump over the last two years. In the 2016 VOTER Survey, more than 8 in 10 (85 percent) Obama-Trump voters held a “favorable” view of the president — 19 percentage points higher than in 2019 (66 percent). Even small movement among these voters — who represented 9 percent of voters in 2016 — may prove significant heading into the 2020 presidential election. Obama-Trump voters are also disproportionately white, non-college educated and, as a result, are likely to be well distributed geographically for the purpose of electoral impact. [Emphasis added]

All other shifts among voting groups are not statistically significant.”

The Obama-Trump voter represented 9 percent of voters in 2016 and 13 percent of Trump voters.  That put those switchers at basically 11.6 million. The loss of support from 85% to 66% among this group is a shift of just over 2.2 million voters. What really matters, however is in what states these 11.6 million voters reside.

Also, Black voter turnout dropped by 765,000 from 2012-2016. This loss of Black participation in urban areas in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida may have had a disproportionate effect.

Let’s s also remember 2016

  • Remember that she lost Wisconsin by just under 23,000 votes; she lost Pennsylvania by just over 44,000 votes; she lost Michigan by almost 11,000 votes.
  • Also, she won Minnesota by less than 45,000 votes; she won Maine by just over 22,000; she won New Hampshire by under 3,000 votes; she won Nevada by just over 27,000.
  • And, Trump won Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida by less than 4% of the vote.

And, we have the record from the 2018 mid-terms.

“Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said that compared to the previous midterm election, Latinos increased their participation by 174% in 2018. Pacific Islanders increased their numbers by 218% and African Americans by 157%.” [Emphasis Added]

 Then comes 2020.

So, we have eight States: Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  We also have the 2018 results.

All that gives me, I think, the three most important things for Democrats in  2020 – turnout, turnout, and turnout.

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