President Trump’s poll numbers have been steady at a little under 40 percent approval. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Trump’s poll numbers continue to hover a bit under 40 percent approval, as they have pretty consistently since July. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the RealClearPolitics average of his poll numbers has dropped from a high of 46 percent in early February to a low of 37.4 percent in mid-August. As of writing, the average of recent opinion polls has Trump at 38.4 percent approval, down from near 40 percent a week ago.

This is not the number Trump would like you to know about.

On Friday, Trump tweeted out the results of a poll conducted by Morning Consult and Politico.

Forty-five percent approval is higher than most recent polls gave the president. Gallup has Trump at 38 percent; his perennial favorite, the conservative Rasmussen Reports, has him at 42 percent. This poll may augur a new upward trend for Trump, or it may be an outlier that deviates from where most other polls see Trump’s support. Either way, it’s relatively good for Trump, so he tweets it out.

It’s relatively good for Trump. But it’s objectively not good for Trump.

A 45 percent approval rating means less than half the country thinks Trump is doing a good job. In fact, the Morning Consult/Politico poll found more than half of Americans — 51 percent — think Trump is not doing a good job. That’s the sort of poll result that usually inspires presidents to hunker down and evaluate their policy priorities in an effort to bolster their numbers. Trump tweets it out — probably because it is still better than most polls.

This is not the first time he has done this. As president, he has tweeted out approval poll numbers eight times by our count. In seven of those eight tweets, his poll numbers were significantly better than the average of polls.


As his overall numbers have declined, so have the numbers Trump has tweeted out. He used to tout polls showing him at 50 percent. Then, last month, he tweeted out a poll implying “some people” thought he was actually over 50 percent, though the poll did not show it. Now he just tweets out a 45 percent poll with a photo showing him clapping and leaves it at that.

Here are Trump’s other tweets touting poll numbers that were not great but were (generally) better than most of the other polls at the moment.

April 17
Trump’s tweets: Trump at 50 percent approval. (He tweeted two versions of this.)
RealClearPolitics average: 42.5 percent.
Difference: Plus-7.5.

May 25
Trump’s tweet: Trump at 48 percent.
RealClearPolitics average: 39.9 percent.
Difference: Plus-8.1.

June 18
Trump’s tweet: Trump at 50 percent.
RealClearPolitics average: 40 percent.
Difference: Plus-10.

July 16
Trump’s tweet: Trump at almost 40 percent. (The actual number was 39 percent.)
RealClearPolitics average: 40.3 percent.
Difference: Minus-1.3.

This is the one time Trump tweeted out a poll number that was actually worse than the poll average. Why he did so is not entirely clear.

Aug. 10
Trump’s tweet: Trump at 45 percent.
RealClearPolitics average: 38.1 percent.
Difference: Plus-6.9.

Nov. 14
Trump’s tweet: Trump at 46 percent.
RealClearPolitics average: 38.3 percent.
Difference: Plus-7.7.

Dec. 8
Trump’s tweet: Trump at 45 percent.
RealClearPolitics average: 38.3 percent.
Difference: Plus-6.7.

The last time he did this, we were inspired to wonder whom he was trying to convince with these numbers. His base? His opponents? Himself? It’s a bit of a mystery.

If you are understandably wondering how low a poll number would have to be for Trump to tweet it out as though it is a positive, the record is 39 percent, from July. It’s a record that might stand for the duration of his presidency — but it would not be entirely surprising if it did not.