Saturday, July 13, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He talked about his "popularity."

Today, Trump tweeted what may actually have been a fairly accurate assessment of his popularity: he claimed that he had a 94% approval rating among Republicans, and that this was even better than Ronald Reagan's 87%. 

Trump didn't say what poll he was citing—and he's been known to straight up lie about polling numbers in the past—but it's at least in the ballpark. (The part about it being the highest ever is flatly false, but Trump has already said he doesn't think public opinion counts where George W. Bush after the September 11th attacks is concern.) Gallup, a benchmark poll, has him at 90% approval among Republicans.

The problem, which Trump either doesn't realize or thinks his supporters won't figure out, is what this actually means.

His overall approval rating at the moment, according to Gallup, is 41%. That means that virtually everyone supporting him is a Republican, and the overall number of Republicans is shrinking under Trump

Trump gets 34% approval from independent voters in the Gallup poll, and 5% from Democrats. President Reagan, propelled to actual landslide victories by a movement of "Reagan Democrats," had an average approval rating of 31% among Democrats. Even President Obama, who took office in a much more polarized electorate, had almost three times Trump's popularity (14%) among the opposite party.

As though to prove the point, Trump lashed out at Republican former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan today, his second day of ranting at the "weak, ineffective and stupid" Ryan after excerpts from Ryan's forthcoming book—not particularly enthusiastic about Trump—were released.

So what?

  • Republican voters might not like Trump thinking they're his personal property.
  • It's fine for politicians to "play to the base," but presidents are supposed to respect the views of all Americans.
  • It's bad if a president thinks his supporters aren't very smart, and worse if he can't hide it.