Entering the third week of his term as president, most polls continue to show Donald Trump with record-low approval ratings for a new president. The latest Gallup polling weekly average — an average of all Gallup daily tracking polls over the course of a week — placed Trump at 45 percent approval among the American public.
However, a new report claims that a difference in polling methods means that while most polls show Trump with low approval ratings, the few polls that show Trump doing better with the American public — even garnering majority approval in at least one survey — are more accurate.
Compared to other presidents, the latest Gallup rating places Trump firmly at the bottom. In fact, no other president since Gallup started compiling the job approval ratings in 1938 has enjoyed less that 50 percent public approval at this early point in his term. Barack Obama in February of 2009 was riding high on a 64 percent approval rating, while his predecessor George W. Bush enjoyed 59 percent approval in February of 2001.
The highest approval rating recorded by Gallup in that time span belonged to John F. Kennedy who in February of 1961 boasted a whopping 72 percent approval rating — in other words, nearly three of every four Americans thought their new president was doing a good job, 55 years ago.
In an average of all polls, as compiled by the Huffington Post Pollster.com site, Trump looked even worse than in the Gallup poll alone. Pollster.com showed Trump finishing his second week in office with a dismal 43.7 percent approval rating across all polls.
But the news was not all depressing for Trump on the approval poll front. According to an analysis by the online political magazine Politico.com, Trump’s approval rating may be held down by supporters who feel embarrassed confessing that they support him in “live interview” polling surveys.
When poll respondents are allowed to answer surveys on the internet, without being forced to admit their preferences to another human being, Trump’s approval rating shoots higher, Politico reported on Friday.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appeared to focus on that possibility when asked about Trump’s lagging approval ratings at White House briefing last week.
“I think there’s also a Rasmussen poll that showed he had a 51-percent approval rating,” Spicer asserted.
Rasmussen, a polling agency which tends to produce results more favorable to Republicans than most other polls, conducts its Trump approval rating polls via the internet, rather than by pollsters placing phone calls to respondents and conducting person-to-person interviews.
In fact, Spicer was selling Trump short. The latest Rasmussen poll, released on February 2, showed Trump with a respectable 54 percent approval rating, while a CNN/ORC poll released on the same day but conducted by live telephone interviews put Trump at 53 percent unfavorable and only 44 percent approval.
Spicer said last week that he shares all polling data with Trump, whether positive or negative.
Politico‘s own poll, conducted by the research firm Morning Consult, showed Trump at 49 percent approval as of January 28. The Politico/Morning Consult poll was also conducted online rather than by telephone interviews, and showed Trump with a higher approval rating than any other poll, with the exception of Rasmussen.
“In the polling field, we call this ‘social desirability bias’ — the idea that respondents may be reluctant to reveal unpopular attitudes on surveys,” New York University polling expert Patrick J. Egan said in a New York Post interview last week. “The jury is still out if this is the case with support for Trump, but it is possible.”
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According to the Politico report, in an average of “live interview” telephone polls, Trump scores a lowly 41 percent approval rating. However, an average of five recent internet-only polls paints a somewhat brighter picture for Trump, with 48 percent approval in those surveys. That number still puts Trump below 50 percent, however, with his February unfavorable rating setting records for futility using either method.
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