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Following Capitol attack, latest polling offers good news (and bad)

For Trump's critics, it should be at least somewhat heartening to see his support fall, especially among GOP voters. But then there's the flip side.
Image: President Trump Departs White House For Border Visit
President Donald Trump waves to staff and supporters as he walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan. 12, 2021.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

After Donald Trump incited a deadly insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, it stood to reason that it would have an effect on his public standing. I've been eager to see just how much of an effect.

A poll released Friday by Marist University and its partners at PBS NewsHour showed that since a similar poll was conducted at the beginning of December, Trump's overall approval rating dropped five points, to 38 percent. The biggest drop was among Republicans, with his approval within his own party sinking 13 points, from 90 percent to 77 percent.... On Monday, Quinnipiac University released similar findings: Trump's overall approval dipped to 33 percent, tied for the lowest the pollster has recorded. The drop among Republicans was 18 points, to 71 percent.

There's also a newly released Politico/Morning Consult poll that showed Trump's approval rating down to 34%. FiveThirtyEight maintains an overall average, which currently shows the Republican's support at about 40% -- down 5 points since mid-November.

Whether this is good news or bad news is a matter of perspective.

For Trump's many critics, it should be at least somewhat heartening to see his support fall, especially among GOP voters. When Trump could still publish tweets, he routinely insisted he enjoyed a 96% approval rating among Republicans, and in the wake of last week's riot, his actual standing within the party is about 20 points below that.

But then there's the flip side.

Trump obviously isn't broadly popular with Americans -- he never has been -- but an approval rating in the 30s is hardly consistent with a man who, among other things, recently incited a deadly insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Let's not forget that at the height of Watergate, Richard Nixon's approval rating slipped to 25%. As the nation struggled through an economic crash and failing wars, George W. Bush's support dropped to a roughly identical point. Trump's support is still considerably higher than those previous Republican floors.

What's more, while his support within his party has clearly dropped since the riot, Trump still enjoys the backing of roughly three-fourths of Republicans -- even now, after all they've seen.