From the day Donald Trump was inaugurated he has suffered through the lowest approval ratings of any president on record. And his repeated failures in office haven’t helped to dig him out of that hole. Consequently, he resorts to diversionary tactics to take attention away from his floundering administration. More often than not that includes lashing out at the media, bragging about his November victory, or accusing President Obama, or other Democrats, of imaginary felonies.
On Monday morning Trump employed another of his favorite diversions: promoting partisan polls that he thinks make him look good. He re-tweeted the Drudge Report which posted a link to Rasmussen Reports, a brazenly right-wing polling firm. Rassmussen published the results of their latest poll saying:
“The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.
“This is the first time the president’s overall approval rating has been back in the 50s in nearly a month.”
The fact that Trump gets excited about a poll where as many people dislike him as like him shows how desperate he is for any good news. But since this is a Rasmussen poll, that achievement isn’t even credible. The RealClearPolitics average of all Trump polls puts him at negative nine percent. Rasmussen’s tie is the best showing of the last seven polls which range from negative six to negative twelve percent. The highest approval he reaches in any of them is 43 percent.
Further examination shows that even Rasmussen was not especially kind to Trump in the recent past. Two weeks ago Rasmussen had Trump down by eight points. The week before that he was down by twelve. So it’s rather startling that Trump surged to a tie in such a short time. Well, it would be for any pollster other than Rasmussen.
For some background, CNN’s Chris Cillizza published an article enumerating the reasons to be skeptical of Rasmussen. Among them are the pollster’s questionable methods of selecting a representative sample of voters. Or their automated telephone polling that excludes the younger demographic of cell phone users. But in general, Cillizza faults Rasmussen for failing to disclose their methodology:
“In an industry in which transparency is the name of the game, Rasmussen just doesn’t show very much of how they do what they do. That’s not to say what they do is wrong; it’s only to say we have no way of knowing how closely they adhere to accepted polling standards.”
He’s being generous. Rasmussen’s results vary widely from every other poll. And they are notorious for posting results that favor Republicans. Many media organization won’t cite them because their methods don’t satisfy the recognized standards for statistical analysis.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
On a tangential point, it’s a little unseemly for a president to be flattering himself with poll results. I can’t think of another time when that was done outside of a campaign. It’s really just a form of low-grade propaganda when it comes direct from the White House. And for his trouble, Trump is relying on a pollster with little credibility for numbers that aren’t particularly positive. But when you’ve set records for low performance, and most of the country opposes you and your policies, I guess you take whatever crumbs fall onto your plate. And in Trump’s case, you pretend they are Creme Brulee and brag about having the best recipe ever.