Donald Trump entered office with the lowest approval rating of any incoming U.S. president dating back to when such polling began, and his numbers have generally inched downward in the nearly three months since he took office. His average has been around 40%, with various polls currently pegging him in the high thirties. Yet today, a Rasmussen poll is claiming that Trump has suddenly jumped all the way to a 50% approval rating, with Trump promptly bragging about it on Twitter. But is this a statistically valid number?
Most polling experts, ranging from RealClearPolitics to FiveThirtyEight to the New York Times, use an average (in some instances a weighted or formulaic average) of the recent polls in order to determine what the true current polling number is. Even with today’s new Rasmussen poll pegging Trump’s approval rating at 50%, the RealClearPolitics average still only has Trump’s current average approval rating at 42.4% (link), making the 50% number a clear outlier. If you back the Rasmussen number out, the current average is close to 40%, where it’s long been hovering. Rasmussen has also been a consistent outlier with regard to Trump’s approval rating. For instance it pegged him at 46% last time around (April 4th), which was also wildly out of line with his average at the time.
Other major polls show no meaningful change in Trump’s approval rating since he began his military endeavor in Syria. For instance Gallup has him down one point, from 42% to 41%, over the past two weeks. Marist says he’s gone up one point, from 38% to 39%. His lowest number to date, just 34%, came from IBD/TIPP on March 30th, but that poll has not been updated since (all of the polling data referenced in this article is documented on RealClearPolitics). In other words, no other major polls have Trump anywhere near 50%, and none of them have him gaining meaningful ground of late.
Further, Rasmussen has long produced polling results which have been sharply biased in favor of Republican politicians and candidates, to the point of straining credulity and delivering results that have often been proven wildly inaccurate by actual voting numbers (source: FiveThirtyEight). So today’s Rasmussen poll is far removed from the current average and far removed from the current trend, and it’s further compromised by Rasmussen’s consistently history of being wildly inaccurate. Whether by incompetence or design, this Rasmussen poll is statistically invalid on its face. We give the claim of Donald Trump having a 50% approval rating a fact check of False.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report