Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Is the Gop on the Rise? Trump's Job-Approval Ratings Are Going Up

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Is the Gop on the Rise? Trump's Job-Approval Ratings Are Going Up

Article excerpt

Since taking office almost 17 months ago, President Donald Trump has careened, seemingly without end, from one scandal to the next.

It is hard to keep up. There is the Stormy Daniels fiasco. The investigation into Michael Cohen. The leaking of the questions special counsel Robert Mueller wishes to ask the president.

And this is just in the past two weeks!

Despite this, Mr. Trump's job approval is actually on the rise. Remarkable. The RealClearPolitics average of the major public opinion polls finds him at nearly 44 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval. These are the best marks he has received in more than a year and a marked improvement over where he was at the end of 2017, when his job approval was less than 38 percent.

What is going on? How is the president doing better despite the persistence of bad publicity?

For starters, some perspective is necessary. Both parties generally have a baseline of about 45 percent nationwide support on Election Day. It follows, then, that when the president is under that number, his most immediate problem is that his own partisans are not entirely with him. For Mr. Trump to rise from 38 percent to 44 percent probably suggests he is winning over soft Republicans - which is easier to do than persuading pure independents and especially soft Democrats.

But improvement is improvement, so something must be up. One plausible explanation is that voters are pragmatic. They care that the economy is running reasonably well, and that the government does not seem to be doing anything to interfere with that. Mr. Trump's job approval took a tumble when congressional Republicans were looking to replace Obamacare with their own (unpopular) alternative. Now that this meddling is gone, his numbers are rising.

Lack of attention may reinforce this pragmatism. Intense consumers of news and politics know all the twists and turns of the various Trump scandals. But most Americans simply do not fit into that mold. Fox News' "Hannity" was the top-rated show on cable news in April and garnered an average of about 3 million viewers. In contrast, more than 137 million people voted in the 2016 election. …

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