It’s a claim that’s been repeated so many times across cable news this week that many among the public have begun to accept it as fact: Donald Trump’s approval rating has spiked since his overseas trip. But in our Palmer Report fact check, we dive into the approval rating numbers and find a different story.
The claim is largely being based on the Gallup daily tracking poll, which had Donald Trump at a 38% approval rating ten days ago and now has him at 41% (link). Based on that alone, the media is exaggerating, as the poll in question assigns itself a three point margin of error. So a three point increase isn’t even clearly defined as being any movement at all, let alone a spike or a meaningful increase.
In general terms, Gallup is a reliable and accurate polling outlet. But daily tracking polls tend to be more chaotic and less accurate than standard polling. Moreover, true movement in polls is measured by a shift in the average, not a shift in any one poll. According to the average of major recent national polls tabulated on RealClearPolitics, which now includes four polls that were conducted mostly or entirely after the overseas trip ended, Donald Trump’s approval rating is currently at 39.9% (link). This is a shift of 0.2% from when Trump’s overseas trip began, which within the framework of the margin of error, is no change at all.
In other words, there has been no overall shift in Donald Trump’s approval rating whatsoever since his overseas trip. As has been far too often the case in recent years, numerous cable news pundits are cherry picking one poll that stands apart from the overall trend, and presenting that poll as if it were the only poll, because it fits the narrative they’re trying to push that week. In this instance they’re even exaggerating what that one poll says. When it comes to the claim that Trump’s approval rating has improved, our fact check finds that False.
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