Want to win a bar bet?

Whose approval numbers were higher – Trump’s or Obama’s?
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Well, at this stage of their presidencies, Trump and Obama had approval ratings that were statistically equal.

Can’t be right … can it?

Below is the composite chart from RealClearPolitics — the bible of poll-of-polls aggregation.

Trump’s numbers are the bolder lines  – black for approval, red for disapproval.  Obama’s are the fainter lines – same color scheme.

Focus on the end-points — where the black lines converge.

image

That may be a little hard to read, so let’s zoom in to the summary box at the top…

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Note that Trump is slightly ahead of Obama at this stage of the presidency — 43% to 42.8%.  Call it a push.

image

But, there are a couple of differences.

Trump’s approval rating has stayed essentially constant from the time he was inaugurated.

Folks who loved him then, love him now.

And, folks who hated him then, still hate him — and give him no credit for his many accomplishments.  (Think: unemployment at at 50 year low, and all-time low for minorities)

But, Obama started off at a whooping 65% approval rating.  Remember that ‘hope & change’ marketing pitch?

Then his approval dropped 22 points in the first 3 years of his presidency.

Hmm.

So, why is the conventional sentiment that Obama was so good and Trump is so bad?

My take: it’s 3 things.

(1) Obama’s adoring press (then and now) glosses over the facts and numbers to preserve the legend.  Conversely, the Trump-hating press pounces on Trump’s (many) mis-steps and buries his substantial achievements.

(2) Many Americans are way more concerned about style, image and “gravitas” then they are about performance and achievement.

(3) When folks do credit achievement, it’s ‘achievement against my specific polarized views”.  Of course that cuts both ways.

Geez, imagine if we had a president who could deliver middle-ground results with grace.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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One Response to “Want to win a bar bet?”

  1. Frank Says:

    Some of it is also 20-20 hindsight…. President Obama won re-election pretty comfortably (which is the ultimate first term approval rating). If President Trump tops 300 electoral votes again, I imagine we will get a similar viewpoint change- endless hang-wringing articles about how he kept the defecting Democrat blue collar vote in the midwest, broke the solid “blue wall” again. etc

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