You can check newspapers, the internet, network and cable TV news programs and other political rating outlets every day and still not come up with a precise method of determining President Donald Trump’s approval numbers as he hits the 15-month mark as the nation’s chief executive.
Any resulting figures are based on what is being compared: Trump’s rating today vs. one year ago; Trump’s approval mark today vs. Barack Obama’s assessment at the same point in his presidency and Trump’s score today vs. the average for all presidents 15 months after inauguration day, to name a few.
After giving the situation much thought, I’ve come up with the “Getting to know you” method which I feel is a believable system.
The song, “Getting to know you,” is featured in the stage musical and movie, The King and I. It basically explains that people either dislike or distrust each other when they first meet but warm up considerably when they “get to know” one another.
After knowing Donald Trump as president for a year and three months, many Americans should feel they have gotten to know him – and nearly all are responding favorably.
It would be easy to read the headlines and conclude that the Trump administration is in trouble virtually all the time. There are spats, firings and the president’s famous tweets filled with questionable comments about his foes.
What all of this really does is make Donald Trump seem more like one of us – more human, therefore, more likable. Before he became president, Trump was known mainly as a billionaire New York developer who was heavily invested in real estate, lived in a towering structure that bears his name and owns a restored mansion not far from us in Palm Beach.
But lately, we have seen that Trump doesn’t act like a billionaire. He is a pretty regular guy. He doesn’t put on airs. He has done a good job raising his kids, in spite of three marriages. He is flawed but undaunted. He makes mistakes but normally mans up to these errors. And he isn’t afraid to take responsibility for his miscues.
Yes, Trump is a man of the people – we, the people. And that perception of a bond between us has undoubtedly helped his ratings.
Trump remains historically unpopular for a first-term president, but against that low baseline, he’s improving. One popular rating service puts him at 41 percent, well below where his predecessors in the modern era were at this moment in their terms, but his highest point in nearly a year. He crashed the ceiling with the firing last year of then-FBI Director James Comey.
We also feel Trump has picked up some steam from the recent rantings of his former competitor, Hillary Clinton, whose “crash and burn” apology tour is scattering Democrats who once tied their wagon to her fortunes.
In her recent book – and in the ill-advised speeches she’s given since it hit the stands – Clinton has been trying to account for her loss in the 2016 presidential election. She blames a wide variety of forces, from the aforementioned Mr. Comey to women badgered by their husbands and children to deny the lady from Chappaqua her apparently rightful spot in the Oval Office by casting a ballot for Trump.
With Hillary still hovering in the spotlight like a moth drawn to a light bulb, it’s hard to believe that Democrats once held a hypothetical 18 ballot point lead over Republicans. Clearly, the Hillary factor has narrowed that margin to the size of a one-celled animal. Actually, a recent “Politico/Morning Consult” poll showed Republicans with a 39-38 percentage point edge over Democrats, with 23 percent of voters undecided. RealClearPolitics’ average shows only a 6.6-point lead for Democrats.
Trump’s improved approval rate is more than just a “getting to know you” phenomenon. It’s also a “getting to know” your policies and their impact on jobs, the economy and government in general spectacle.
The rise in Republican numbers has also coincided with the tax bill passed in December. Oddly, that bill remains unpopular, despite the fact that it gives most people a tax cut, at least in the short term, and more money in their paychecks. Savvy voters who realize responsible ideas when they hear them saw the first proof that the GOP could pass major legislation while being in control of the House, Senate, and White House.
Trump has also benefitted from a solid State of the Union performance and a hardline stance against illegal immigration. He and his allies in Congress have even managed to mold perceptions of FBI investigations into Trump’s campaign as the political ravings of left-wing loons supposedly embedded in the government — the so-called Deep State.
The Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, also finds Trump’s approval rebounding.
“There’s no question that Trump benefits when a critique of his tax and health care policies is not front and center—especially when voters are hearing Trump’s side of the story on the economy,” a Priorities memo said.
Clearly, even Democrats are “getting to know” the president and thumbs-up are beginning to increase. And if they can do it, so can the rest of the country.