A new poll from Politico finds that approval of President Trump is at the same levels that President Reagan — as well as President Obama — were at during this point in their presidencies.
It’s interesting, however, to see just how this was reported by Politico.
“Trump’s 44 percent approval rating matches those of former Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan in June of 2010 and 1982, respectively, midterm years in which their parties suffered significant electoral defeats in the House,” Politico’s Louis Nelson wrote.
First, the basics: The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted June 1-4 among 900 nationwide voters with a margin of error of 3.3 percent.
The poll also found, in addition to an uptick in popularity for Trump, that 60 percent of American voters liked the condition of the American economy and 44 percent believed that Trump was responsible for it.
Many focused on the fact voters in the poll said they were more likely to vote for a candidate that provided a check on the president than those that didn’t, with 48 percent more likely to vote for a candidate who would check the president compared to only 23 percent less likely to vote for that candidate.
However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was subject to similar numbers, with 45 percent of voters less likely to vote for candidates that would support Pelosi as speaker compared to just 21 percent who said they would support them.
Given that the House is the most likely electoral path that the Democrats have to retake one of the chambers of Congress, that’s not exactly sparkling news. However, look at how Politico portrayed it: more bad news for Trump!
And, would you be surprised to learn that they weren’t alone?
“Trump’s Approval Rating Equals Obama’s Before 2010 Midterms and that’s Bad News for the President,” Newsweek’s headline on the poll read, with the lede stating that “history indicates the Republican and his party could still be rocked in this year’s midterm elections.”
This is because, of course, Obama and Reagan suffered midterm losses.
We’ll deal with these seriatim. Obama, in 2010, was on the down elevator of popularity; the midterms were held just roughly a year and a half after we were legitimately debating, as an American polity, whether he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize (protip: he didn’t) and yet he’d managed to shed the near-universal acclaim that had greeted his presidency in January of 2009.
In President Trump’s case, the situation is the opposite. President Trump entered with unusual acrimony over the 2016 election and even many conservatives have voted for him only because he represented a better choice than Hillary Clinton. His numbers have been ticking upward with the economy and the growing belief that the Russia investigation isn’t going to find anything on Russia and probably not much on Stormy Daniels/Michael Cohen.
As for Ronald Reagan, his administration was facing a recession and congressional reapportionment in 1982, which is why they lost ground in the House of Representatives. It was also the only time that the GOP had successfully defended a majority in either house (the Senate) since 1928.
First, the modern Republican Party Regan partially helped bring about is a lot healthier in terms of its ability to win congressional elections than it was in 1982. Since 1994, the GOP has more or less controlled one or both houses of Congress, with one exception between 2006 and 2011. There’s the fact that voters are more polarized than they were 36 years ago, with the upshot being they’re less likely to cross party lines if they’re unhappy with the president. And then there’s the fact that we’re pretty much in the opposite of a recession, which is what dragged down Reagan’s chances in 1982.
In terms of popularity, however, the numbers provide an interesting insight into how the media covers President Trump. We’re told that he’s at the same polling levels that Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were at during their eight-year stays in the White House. The only thing that’s covered in any depth, however, is the fact that this could be bad news for the midterms.
Reagan turned out pretty well for America and his approval rating went up as the economy did. The years 1982 to 1988 were great ones for America, and Dutch’s approval ratings reflected that fact. As for Barack Obama, well, at least you could say Politico spent the next six years wondering why he wasn’t more popular and whether his lagging popularity had to do with those goshdarn racist voters.
The fact that the Trump presidency is more or less viewed the same way as the Reagan one was should be much bigger news than it is.