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Old 08-23-2019, 03:38 AM
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What explains Trumpís low popularity in the second half of 2017?


Political pundits often say that Trumpís popularity does not change much. And thatís true compared to most other presidents. But looking at 538ís tracker, he was consistently more unpopular from about June to December 2017 than he has been for any other sustained period in his presidency. Why is that? I donít remember anything from that time that was more controversial or politically damaging than other stuff that has happened over the past 18 months. Nor can I think of anything happening after that time that would boost him a few points in a sustainable way.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com...ex_cid=rrpromo
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Old 08-23-2019, 05:27 AM
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You can conveniently browse current events of that period on this Wiki portal.

The low at the end of July/beginning of August was after the defeat of the "Skinny Repeal" in the Senate (failed Obamacare repeal).

The low in December coincided with a fairly big stock market low.

Don't know if that pattern in the popularity is significant but anyway there's two data points.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:46 AM
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Interesting, thanks. The thing is, he was pretty low all the way in between, too.

It’s not that I can’t wrap my head around his having approval ratings that low—if anything I would expect them to be lower than that—but why was it only during that period of time? Otherwise, he has had understandable dips like during the government shutdown but nothing nearly so sustained.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 08-23-2019 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:05 AM
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The explanation could well be something more abstract. e.g. Maybe 1 year is approximately the period for some of his supporters to get disillusioned, and realize the swamp is deeper than ever, and they are not going to be "winning" any time soon.

But then the image of trump in some quarters became of him being the poor everyman president, fighting back bravely against the corrupt media, deep state, anTEEFa etc.
And some of the waverers came back.
Just speculation.

Last edited by Mijin; 08-23-2019 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:28 AM
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One can only speculate but, I suspect, it's the period where people realized that Trump really was as poor a choice as he had seemed to be on stage and wasn't just playing it up to be non-PC and troll the libs, etc. but hadn't yet had enough time to retroactively justify their vote for themselves and convince themselves that they'd been right to begin with and that Trump really is a genius doing genius things.

I'll also note that things started to go up for Trump when he bright in John Kelly and he axed some of Trump's worse picks in the White House.
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:12 AM
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What I see looking a the graph, is a steady decline of poll numbers as people realized that Trump was actually going to govern as Trump, being reversed in December 2017. This coincides with the passing of the Republican Tax cut, which was probably enough to convince his base that he could actually deliver on their agenda. Once he got over that hurdle, the sides got locked in.

Last edited by Buck Godot; 08-23-2019 at 11:13 AM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 03:12 PM
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This all makes a lot of sense and even though we don’t have hard evidence they are very plausible hypotheses. The one bit I was surprised by is the comment about his appointments getting better starting in 2018. I haven’t paid terribly close attention to his Cabinet and staff, but I have heard commentators say that the “A-Team”, or at least the closest he has gotten, came in at the beginning but then mostly quit in disgust or got pushed out, and that these days we would love to have Rex Tillerson or Jim Mattis back by comparison.

ETA: Which reminds me of something I have wondered many times. He constantly trashes people on Twitter who used to work for him. They are all idiots and morons, in hindsight. He has done lots of interviews, even with outlets like NBC or the NYT that aren’t in his corner. But if anyone has ever asked him why he hired so many idiots, and what those personnel choices say about his management ability, I haven’t seen it. It seems like such an obvious question.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 08-23-2019 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:38 PM
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Moving to Elections
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlackerInc
Which reminds me of something I have wondered many times. He constantly trashes people on Twitter who used to work for him. They are all idiots and morons, in hindsight. He has done lots of interviews, even with outlets like NBC or the NYT that aren’t in his corner. But if anyone has ever asked him why he hired so many idiots, and what those personnel choices say about his management ability, I haven’t seen it. It seems like such an obvious question.
We're in strange times. Trump does and says things every day that should be disqualifying.
But it rarely affects his base (as you've found), or swing voters.

"Didn't you say you'd hire the best people and yet time and again the people in your administration are found to be utterly incompetant at best, and at worse criminal?" is a good question. But I'd say there's about 80-90 questions I would want to ask first. Serious estimate.

Last edited by Mijin; 08-23-2019 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 08-23-2019, 11:58 PM
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I would rank the question much higher, but I’m less interested in asking it your way (which he can deflect as biased or fake news or whatever), and more interested in asking it in terms of the people he personally says are “idiots”. Which is actually a mostly different group of people than the ones you are talking about. But since he himself thinks they are idiots, how is he not thereby indicting his own judgment in hiring them to begin with?

As for his various errors and abominable statements not affecting his numbers much, that is actually the conventional wisdom I am questioning here.

The usual way in politics to talk about approval ratings is as a positive or negative number. If your disapproval is higher than your approval, as his always is, the number is negative. Right now he is at -12.2. Over the past six months, this number has ranged from -9.7 to -12.9. In the last 10 months of 2018, the range was slightly greater: from -9.2 to -14.0.

But in the second half of 2017, his very best moment in late September was -14.6. His worst number was -21.1, in December, but numbers around -18 or -19 were quite common.

While this does not compare with the variation we have seen with many other presidents, it does seem notable and worth trying to understand. It really does seem like there were a few million people he lost during that stretch of time in 2017 who have come back pretty consistently (other than during the shutdown), whether because they got used to his craziness, or because they liked the tax cuts and judges, or because Democrats pissed them off again.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:05 PM
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Trump has gone full socialist this week, decreeing that American businesses have to follow government orders on where to conduct business.

And his approval rating among Republicans will not change one bit.

I have to conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong with Republicans on the whole.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:12 PM
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For sure. But some of them disliked him in the second half of 2017 and not this year, apparently.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:39 PM
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One big thing that happened in late summer of 2017 was the neo-Klan march in Charlottesville, and Trump saying there were good people on both sides. That may have affected his ratings, as Americans realized they had elected a Klan sympathizer as president.
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Old 08-25-2019, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
One big thing that happened in late summer of 2017 was the neo-Klan march in Charlottesville, and Trump saying there were good people on both sides. That may have affected his ratings, as Americans realized they had elected a Klan sympathizer as president.

Thatís a good one. Biden has certainly played that up.
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Old 08-25-2019, 06:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
Political pundits often say that Trumpís popularity does not change much. And thatís true compared to most other presidents. But looking at 538ís tracker, he was consistently more unpopular from about June to December 2017 than he has been for any other sustained period in his presidency. Why is that? I donít remember anything from that time that was more controversial or politically damaging than other stuff that has happened over the past 18 months. Nor can I think of anything happening after that time that would boost him a few points in a sustainable way.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com...ex_cid=rrpromo
1) Trying to repeal Obamacare was unpopular

2) Selling the tax cut for billionaires was almost as unpopular.

Trump looked like he was trying to screw the poor (i.e. your classic rich, white republican).
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:02 AM
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Honestly I think you are micro-analyzing a bit, looking to see significance in what is remarkably little change.

During that lowest period his net approval ranged around 17 to 18 underwater. A few times down a point or two more and a few times a point or two higher, but pretty consistent. Since then mostly under 12 with that same +/- a point or two-sh.Trying to retrospectively find meaning in that tiny change may be a bit like seeing patterns in the clouds.

Still I'll take my stab at sharing what fluffy bunny I see ...

Almost everyone is in their solid corners from early on and these small shifts are among those few who voted for him barely. Initially those few could be shocked by each new horrific thing he said and did, having expected that in office he'd start to act the part a bit but a fundamental part of how perception works is that we become acclimated to the constant and only notice what is different. A person doesn't typically notice their own stink because it is always around but a new smell, that gets noticed. You don't notice traffic sounds after a bit when they are outside your window all the time. By the end of the year these voters became desensitized to Trump's stink. Offensive hateful statements and actions became the background smell, the background noise, and they begin to notice more what is different for this president, when he actually is not doing something horrific. His doing something decent has become the newsworthy while everything horrible is just another the sun rose again today that no one notes.

But again, a shift of the net approval baseline by that little is remarkably little.
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:10 PM
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I think part of why Trump’s numbers came back up at the beginning of 2018 could be that some disillusioned Republicans “came home.” As the 2018 midterms approached they realized it wasn’t just about Trump, and returned to the fold to help keep the Senate red.

ETA. The 2020 race essentially started after the midterms, so there wasn’t as much opportunity for those voters to leave the fold as there was in the year before a midterm.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 08-25-2019 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 08-26-2019, 03:20 AM
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Honestly I think you are micro-analyzing a bit, looking to see significance in what is remarkably little change.

During that lowest period his net approval ranged around 17 to 18 underwater. A few times down a point or two more and a few times a point or two higher, but pretty consistent. Since then mostly under 12 with that same +/- a point or two-sh.Trying to retrospectively find meaning in that tiny change may be a bit like seeing patterns in the clouds.

I really don’t think an average five or six point difference is insignificant (and if you measure from the middle of each range it’s more like seven). I was introspectively sensitive to this “cloud pattern” idea, but I think the most persuasive counterpoint there is that as I said upthread, his highest single day during that six months was two points lower than his worst day of the past six months. So not all that close to an even momentary, cherrypicked overlap. That’s not merely seeing a pattern by squinting and looking sideways. And it represents millions of voters.

That said, I think the analysis you made after that caveat is quite likely to be the explanation, although others offered in this thread are good too, including FlikTheBlue’s about voters coming home as the midterm elections approached. Republicans were getting just killed in special elections in 2017; and then although 2018 was a good wave for Democrats, it was not on the same level.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 08-26-2019 at 03:24 AM.
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