This is a very weird tweet.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2017
By itself, it’s weird. The president is thanking America for its support … while pointing out that less than half of the country thinks he’s doing a good job? Sure, 48 percent is more support than he earned in the November election, when he pulled about 46 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 48. But generally speaking, a 48 percent approval rating for a president is not what you might call “high.”
Setting that aside, though, it’s even weirder because that 48 percent isn’t even a good number by Trump standards! It’s from a poll from Rasmussen Reports, as the image indicates. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, Rasmussen has almost always showed stronger support for Trump than other polls, as data from HuffPost Pollster makes obvious.
So what Trump is doing is the equivalent of entering an Olympic diving competition and only reporting the high scores from the judges. It’s not a good representation of how he did overall. In Pollster’s running average, Trump is actually at 39.8 percent approval, worse than the 48 percent he touts. In RealClearPolitics’ average, he does slightly better: 39.9 percent.
There’s a reason that Rasmussen’s numbers are generally higher than other polls. It is not only a Republican-leaning pollster, but it surveys only likely voters, a group that skews more heavily Republican. Since Trump was inaugurated, likely voter polls have shown higher approval ratings for Trump than polls that survey all Americans. Gallup, for example, surveys all adults. In Gallup’s polling, Trump’s at 39 percent.
Are you sensing a trend?
But notice, too, how those red Rasmussen dots have trended since Trump was inaugurated. Forty-eight percent is actually a mediocre poll even just within Rasmussen’s results. In the 87 approval numbers Rasmussen has tallied since Jan. 20, Trump’s been at 48 percent 10 times. He’s been under 48 percent 37 times — and over it 40 times. Trump’s median approval rating in Rasmussen polls? Forty-eight percent.
His average? Slightly higher, at 48.6 percent. This is a below-average Rasmussen poll that Trump wants to celebrate for some reason.
One possible reason was that it was highlighted by Matt Drudge on Twitter on Wednesday.
Drudge tried to frame Trump’s numbers positively by comparing Trump’s 48 percent to the 47.9 percent average for Barack Obama. But that 47.9 percent for Obama was from Gallup‘s numbers — meaning that the comparison should have been not 48 to 47.9, but 39 to 47.9, using the Gallup daily average we mentioned above. Trump is just above Obama’s all-time low of 38 percent in Gallup polling, which is a better analogy than the one Drudge used.
So let’s now set that all aside and go back to the initial point. Trump would like us to take a minute from our day to know that he is considered to be doing a good job by less than half of the likely voters in the country — a subset of the overall, more-hostile population of American adults.
Okay. Now we know, Mr. President. Thanks.