The news of the day is that President Obama is more popular among the people now! I know, I know … the haters are shaking their heads right about now saying “That cannot be right. He is the worst president ever. He should be impeached”, and all the other babble-phrases of which they are so enamoured. But it is a fact, one that is confirmed by several of the more accurate polls, that President Obama’s approval rating averages 49%. Obama’s approval ratings are actually very close to those of Ronald Reagan in March 1988, his final year in office. There are likely a number of reasons and the republicans may be interested (appalled?) to note that they are a large part of the reason! It is also interesting to note that Donald Trump’s approval rating is in decline, as is Congress’. I believe these three are connected.
Donald Trump’s decline to an average of 30.4% in the polls is not surprising at all. The only thing surprising is that it took this long for his decline to begin. It would seem that a couple of things may be coming into play. First, I think that his rhetoric is getting old and stale, his supporters are getting tired of hearing the same old buzzwords and phrases, and are looking for him to step up to the plate with some details about exactly how he plans to “make America great again”. In the beginning, there was excitement at the novelty of his approach, his bull-in-a-china-shop bluster, but the shine is wearing thin and the tarnish beneath starting to show through. At the end of the day, people want a president who acts … well, presidential. Second, as his delegate count began to rise, and it looked for a brief time as if he could possibly receive the necessary 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination, people began to take his candidacy, if not the man himself, seriously and I think it became a real stretch for most to actually picture him sitting in the Oval Office. Third, there is only one group in the nation who he has failed to insult, white males. While it is true that he does still have a following among some women, those numbers have begun to shrink also. Presumably women are awakening to the fact that he views them as objects and as second-class citizens, much as he views minorities and immigrants. Recent television interviews have only given Trump a venue to reiterate his arrogance and immaturity — see his interview with Anderson Cooper on 29 March, when Cooper said to Trump: “But, sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of 5-year-old.” (Is not this just what I have been saying all along?)
Congress’ decline in approval rating, which currently stands at an average of only 14.3%, also needs little explanation. It can be summarized with the refusal of most republicans in the senate to even consider holding confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. Mitch McConnell has single-handedly (well, alright, he has had some help from other republican senators, but he is the driving force on this one) doomed Congress’ approval ratings, since 52% of voters support confirmation hearings at this time, and only 29% are opposed. The other 19% were bored and fell asleep, I presume.
Polls are fickle, unreliable things, but some are more accurate than others. According to FiveThirtyEight (538), a group that monitors and analyzes economic and political polls, among the most reliable are Selzer, ABC/Washington Post, CNN/Research Corp., and NBC/Wall Street Journal. Surprisingly, Gallup, the most well-known, only gets a C+ rating from 538. In addition to looking at a number of the more reliable polls, it is important to notice trends. In the early days of Trump’s campaign, he began every speech, every interview, citing his poll numbers as of that morning. The numbers for a given day may or may not have meaning, as it is the trend that counts.
Every poll I looked at from Gallup to ABC News to Selzer follows the same pattern … Obama is gaining ground, Trump and Congress are losing ground. What does it mean? Nothing, really, at least in terms of President Obama’s ratings, beyond the fact that it would be nice if he left office next January with a higher approval rating. As for Trump? My opinion is that it only confirms what many of us already knew … he will not be the next president of the U.S. The most important of the three, is likely the approval rating of Congress. As I have mentioned before, there are 24 republican senators up for re-election in November, and if the overall approval rating of congress continues to decline, those 24 will have a much more difficult time seeing another term. Again, all polls, even those considered the most reliable, are flawed, but when all polls report the same trend, the old saying “where there is smoke, there is fire” comes to mind.