The so-called “mainstream” media has tried to push one story above all others as Donald Trump takes office.
Their narrative is that he is the most unpopular incoming President ever.
But do these polls tell the whole story, and do they underestimate Trump’s real strength?
A Quinnipiac University Poll found 37% of registered voters approve of his performance.
CNN/ORC showed Trump with a 40% approval rating among all adults.
And, the ABC/Washington Post survey also revealed Trump had a 40% approval rating among all adults.
But adults and registered voters are a much bigger subset of the population than actually shows up to vote on Election Day.
And both adults and registered voters skew liberal as they contain more minorities and foreign-born respondents.
Writing in The New York Times upshot, Nate Cohn explains why these polls may not be accounting for Trump’s true level of support:
“Some of Mr. Trump’s polling weakness can also be attributed to the difference between adults and likely voters. The adult population is much younger, more diverse and likelier to have been born outside the United States than the voting electorate. Most of the recent polls have measured Mr. Trump’s ratings among all American adults, not registered or likely voters.
This can make a sizable difference. Mr. Trump’s favorability rating was seven points higher (his net-favorability rating was nine points higher) among likely voters than adults in New York Times/CBS News surveys last summer that asked all adults whether they had a favorable impression of Mr. Trump. If the gap between adults and likely voters is as large as it was in those surveys, it would bring Mr. Trump’s ratings pretty close to his 46 percent share of the national popular vote.”
Cohn also notes that during the campaign there were daily stories about how Trump was the most unpopular presidential nominee in history.
Yet, none of that deterred him from victory.
Cohn writes that despite some people’s negative feelings toward Trump, the majority are actually optimistic about his presidency:
“The other possibility is that there’s something about Mr. Trump’s appeal that’s not captured in the traditional approval ratings or the character questions.
One piece of evidence seems consistent with this possibility: the seeming optimism about his presidency.
Take the most recent Quinnipiac poll. At first glance, it’s bleak for Mr. Trump. Just 37 percent of registered voters — a narrower group than the adult population — view him favorably or approve of his performance. But just about every other question is better for Mr. Trump: 45 percent think he’ll take the nation in the right direction, and 52 percent of registered voters are optimistic about the next four years with Mr. Trump as president.
Just about every new poll tells a similar story. The most recent CNN poll says that just 40 percent of adults approve of his performance, but 48 percent say they think he’ll do a “very good” or “fairly good” job as president. And 48 percent say his policies will move the country in the right direction. An even larger 61 percent say that he’ll bring back well-paying jobs to economically depressed areas.
An ABC/Washington Post poll found that a majority of Americans expect he’ll do a good or excellent job handling the economy, jobs, terrorism, the budget deficit, and in helping the middle class.”
Trump was the victim of an unprecedented media smear campaign.
The press took on the role of the opposition party, and it would be impossible for any candidate to remain personally popular in the face of a historically slanted media campaign to destroy him.
There also could be people who are telling pollsters they disapprove of Trump because of social desirability.
This was evident in the campaign when Trump would perform better on automated polls, as opposed to surveys where respondents would have to give their answer to a live operator.
But Americans are optimistic about his policies.
If Trump makes good on his “America First” agenda, he will be in a far stronger position than his approval numbers indicate.