Earlier in the summer, Donald Trump hosted a news conference with farmers and ranchers, who heard the president talk about how impressed he is with himself. “A strange thing is happening: My numbers are going up,” the Republican claimed about his standing in the polls. “Someday, you’ll explain that to me.”
It wasn’t at all difficult to explain: Trump’s numbers weren’t improving. He just made it up.
As the summer nears its end, conditions have grown worse for the troubled president. The latest Gallup poll, for example, shows Trump’s slipping from 44% to 39% since July.
A CNN poll released this week also found the president’s support falling below the 40% threshold, slipping from 43% to 39% since June. The same report found that 60% of Americans do not believe Trump deserves a second term, while 71% do not trust most of what they hear from the White House.
And then there’s the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
President Trump is ending a tumultuous summer with his approval rating slipping back from a July high as Americans express widespread concern about the trade war with China and a majority of voters now expect a recession within the next year, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey highlights how one of Trump’s central arguments for reelection — the strong U.S. economy – is beginning to show signs of potential turmoil as voters express fears that the escalating trade dispute with China will end up raising the price of goods for U.S. consumers.
The poll found Trump’s approval rating dropping from 44% in June to 38% now. In the same findings, the president trails each of the top Democratic presidential hopefuls in hypothetical general-election match-ups, including double-digit deficits against Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
The Post’s report added, “For Trump, the current standings represent a troubling threat: No president in modern times has been reelected with approval ratings as low as Trump’s are today.”
The question, of course, is what he intends to do about it.
In recent decades, there is some precedent for presidents to struggle in their third years before bouncing back and winning re-election. Reagan, Clinton, and Obama weren’t quite as weak as Trump is now, but each saw their support ebb the year before they sought a second term.
But those presidents were capable of making adjustments and adapting to changing circumstances. Trump, however, is … Trump.
Indeed, nearly as interesting as the results are the excuses the president concocts to rationalize the data. The Republican has long based his understanding of polls on a simple principle – the results he likes are real, the ones he dislikes are fake – but the entertaining part is how he fleshes out the details.
In some cases, Trump argues that the polls paint a bleak picture because the rascally media refuses to tell everyone how awesome he is. In other cases, he argues that the polls have been manipulated as part of an elaborate media conspiracy to “suppress” support for his campaign.
He published a tweet yesterday that was nearly perfect in its encapsulation of his deeply strange worldview: “ABC/Washington Post Poll was the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken prior to the 2016 Election. When my lawyers protested, they took a 12 point down and brought it to almost even by Election Day. It was a Fake Poll by two very bad and dangerous media outlets. Sad!”
First, shortly before the 2016 election, the final Post/ABC poll showed Trump trailing by about 3 points and Trump ended up losing the popular vote by about 2 points. That’s hardly evidence of “the worst and most inaccurate poll of any taken.”
Second, the news organizations did not receive a complaint from Trump’s lawyers.
Third, the idea that the Washington Post and ABC News deliberately altered polling data to satisfy complaints from Trump and his legal team is hopelessly bonkers.
An analysis the Post published in July continues to ring true: “Trump is incapable of accepting that most Americans don’t like him.”