The only true constant in American politics is that too much is made of almost everything. Narratives overtake facts and spin tops reality in the desire to “break news.”
One of the current favorites of the mass media is to describe President Trump as massively unpopular. To be clear, I don’t think this narrative was made up on purpose. I believe that many people working in the media actually believe this to be true.
The problem is, it’s just not true. I will not poll shop my way to a conclusion here.
Every poll has a different construct and its own target polling audience. Targets vary by polling company – some poll all adults, some poll folks who claim they are registered voters, some poll only folks who actually are registered to vote and others only poll people who have actually voted. To state the obvious: the target audience can greatly change a poll’s result.
The one common thread to polling this past cycle is basically: nobody got it right. But some were much closer than others. Those pollsters that came close were ridiculed before Election Day as having lost their minds – if not their integrity and credibility – for daring to report on what was actually happening.
So, let’s look at one poll over time. I choose Rasmussen because, while I don’t always agree with their methodology, they do it the same way every day and have been doing it that same way for many years.
Each day they poll likely voters and ask if they approve of the job the president is doing, and every day that number fluctuates. Two key factors in those changes are the composition those who are polled and of course current events that alter the attitudes of American voters about their president.
Recently, New York Magazine published a piece titled, “Trump is Making the GOP Heinously Unpopular Again.” CNN ran a piece entitled “Is Trump Already a Lame Duck President?” Bloomberg went with a story called “The Cost of Trump’s Deepening Unpopularity.”
With thoughtful stories like these, it might be fair for some folks to feel like it’s like time to pack it in and beg Hillary to lead us.
The problem is these stories are based on a narrative, not a fact pattern. This week, Rasmussen has Trump at 48 percent approval against 52 percent who disapprove.
Stop right there. I know what you are going to say: That I am poll shopping and that there are other polls with lower numbers. Yes there are, but you’re wrong.
I am only looking at Rasmussen over the last eight years. I am using the same poll with the same construct and the same methodology.
I am not trying to blend a bunch of bad polls into a bad average. I am not trying to disprove that Trump’s numbers are lower among all adults than actual adults who vote.
Generally speaking, almost every number is amplified by folks who believe they have a right to complain, even though they choose not to do anything about it on Election Day.
Rasmussen talks to voters. Voters choose leaders.
So Rasmussen has…