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May 2017 Update: A look at Trump favorability vs job approval

Back in March I took a look comparing Trump’s favorability rating (% saying they have a favorable opinion minus % saying they have an unfavorable opinion) to his net job approval (% approving of his job performance minus % disapproving of his job performance). This was interesting because these two ways of measuring Trump’s popularity were not really moving together.

I’ve updated those charts through today. (Once again using pollster.com data for the smoothed trends.) Here is what we have:

Net job approval is much more volatile than favorability rating. This makes sense. People are basically answering, “How do I think Trump is doing RIGHT NOW?” vs “How do I like Trump overall?”. Both have been trending down… down meaning worse for Trump… with the job approval swings looking much more impressive than the slow gradual decline for favorability.

I actually think the favorability number is the more critical one to look at though. Job approval going down just means Trump had a bad week or two. It can easily bounce back if the next week goes better. Favorability going down though probably means people who voted for Trump are actually losing faith in him. They are not just saying he didn’t do great recently, they are saying they no longer like him. Big difference. And that has been slowly heading down since the beginning of February, and seems to have accelerated since the second half of April.

Favorability swings can be reversed too of course, it just seems harder to move than job approval. Having said that, these charts are extended back before the election for a reason. Note the huge swing upward in Trump’s favorability that started a couple weeks before the election and peaked in December. That was a big move in Trump’s direction. A big part of that was just an election bump and people “giving him a chance”, or giving him a boost simply for being President Elect. But it just shows that the right events can move things a lot pretty quickly.

And it shows that Trump has still not come anywhere close to losing all of the additional people who started thinking more favorably about him during that time period. Some of them, sure, but he is still looking a lot better now than he was right before the election. To all the folks hoping for Congressional Republicans to turn on Trump, I’m thinking you have to see the blue line above break the October low before you start seeing any of that sort of thing happen.

But we shall see. :-)