Friday, December 29, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about his approval ratings.

Trump's daily Fox & Friends binge brought him what, by his polling standards, was good news: a poll showing that his approval rating was at "approximately" President Obama's level at the same point in his presidency. He immediately shared the news on Twitter.

It's true that 45%, which is the actual number reported for Trump by a recent Rasmussen daily tracking poll, is "approximately" the 46% it recorded for Obama in December 2009. (For some reason, Trump gave Obama's number as 47%.) 

However, there is no sense in which Trump's poll numbers are "approximately" the same as Obama's at this point in his presidency--and Obama was not particularly popular at the time, with an anemic 51% approval rating in the benchmark Gallup tracking poll.

Trump is at 37%.

The Gallup number is also almost identical to the running average of polls calculated by

In fairness to Trump, for all his cherry-picking of relatively favorable polls, there is a kind of accidental honesty at work in his musings about his popularity (or lack thereof). He is certainly the only president to ever deliberately call attention to polls showing that a majority of Americans disapprove of his job performance.

Why does this matter?

  • Declaring yourself popular rarely works as a tactic to increase your popularity after middle school.
  • It's bad if a president is more concerned with popularity than with the actual performance of his duties.