I noted in this space last week that President Donald Trump had tied his highest approval ratings – 45% – in Gallup’s weekly poll. A week can change a lot, apparently.
In Gallup’s new weekly poll released Monday, Trump’s approval rating had cooled off to 41% while his disapproval shot up 5 percentage points – up to 55%. It’s easy to ascribe Trump’s approval fade to his disastrous past week in which he badly underestimated the damage done by his administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy at the border. Trump eventually flip-flopped on his insistence that an executive order wouldn’t solve the family separation crisis but, even then, legal and logistical questions remained.
But in truth, Trump’s 41% approval could well be simply a return to normal. After all, Trump has averaged 39% approval in Gallup polling for the totality of his presidency to date. Trump’s numbers among Republicans remain strong (90% approval last week, 87% this week) and his numbers among Democrats remain dismal (10% approval last week, 5% this week).
As Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones notes:
“Past controversies, such as the ban on travel to the US from certain Muslim-majority countries, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, and Trump’s reaction to the white supremacist-protester clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought him negative media attention. While each of these controversies did appear to cause slight and temporary declines in Trump’s approval ratings, opinions of the President have been fairly well established from the outset.”
Seen through that lens, Trump’s numbers last week are the exception; his numbers this week are the rule. And it’s not totally clear how Republicans should feel about that fact.
On the one hand, Republicans remain extremely positive about Trump – usually a sign the base of the party is activated and ready for the fall elections. On the other, the history of presidents under 50% approval in a midterm election is absolutely disastrous for the GOP. The average loss for the party in power is 36 House seats!
Trump’s 45% showing last week had given some Republicans hopes that he might, maybe, make it close to 50% approval before November. Those hopes seem to have been short-lived. If you believe Gallup’s long-term trend – and you should – the most likely place for Trump to wind up in November is somewhere between 39% and 42% in approval.
The Point: Trump is Trump. For every step forward there is (at least) one step back. Republicans need to just make peace with that reality.
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