Approval ratings, while a decent bellwether for the general sense of how a country feels about its leader, are just entirely too volatile to take a number from one week and compare it to the number from the week before or the one that follows — polling by phone is notoriously unscientific and frequently relies on population samples that aren’t representative of the country as a whole.
What does give you an indicator of performance is approval rating averaged over time, especially if the fluctuation isn’t really that great — say, as low as 38 percent or as high as 50 percent. It’s a little harder if some event throws off the curve unexpectedly. George W. Bush, for example, experienced a huge spike in his approval rating after 9/11, since the country was so closely bonded over our shared national tragedy. Outside of that major climb, however, Bush didn’t really do that great.
In fact, perhaps the very best indicator of all is as wide a sample size as you have access to, averaged. To measure Donald Trump’s, that means over the two year period he’s been in office.
A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post looks pretty bad for Trump in that regard: His two-year average is just 38 percent, a whopping 23 points lower than the average among all other presidents going back to 1945, when the polls were first held.
Nearly 3 out of 5 Americans disapprove of Trump’s performance — that is to say, they think he’s doing a terrible job. As a matter of fact, Trump’s disapproval rating has dipped below 50 percent on literally only a handful of days as President, meaning half or more of the nation has thought he was doing terribly essentially the entire time he’s held office.
It’s easy to recall that Trump’s “popularity contests” have never gone well for him — he had to rely on the archaic electoral college to eke out a win to begin with, losing by more than 3 million in the popular vote against his opponent in 2016.
This measure, however, likely was affected by the recent government shutdown, which lasted more than a month, created financial crises for hundreds of thousands of Americans, and for which Trump was roundly blamed by voters.
This, of course, is not the kind of record you really want to break. But then Donald Trump will call it fake news anyway.
Featured image via screen capture