No one who lived through the 2016 election has to be reminded to take poll numbers with a grain of salt. You couldn’t find a reputable pollster in the country who predicted that Donald Trump was going to take the presidency in November. That’s not to say the polls were mythical or “fake,” it’s just to say that they messed up. They got it wrong. Or, if we’re being extremely generous, the slimmest percentages happened to come up. The country rolled snake eyes. However you look at it, whatever stock you put in polling before November had fallen considerably after election day.
But still, we hear every day from some pollster or another than President Trump has fallen to a new low when it comes to his approval ratings. We’re not going to argue that Trump is pulling down great numbers; clearly, even if the polls are weighted against Republicans, Trump’s approval figures are nothing to write home about.
Still, are they the disaster they’re portrayed as in the media?
At least one political expert says no. In an op-ed for Fox News, Newt Gingrich argued that while Trump’s approval ratings could be better, there are significant aspects of those numbers that aren’t being talked about in media circles.
“In their eagerness to declare the Trump presidency a failure, the elite media is failing to inform us of two things,” Gingrich wrote. “First, President Reagan had a similar period during his first term when his approval rating fell to 35 percent — even lower than President Trump’s. Reagan bounced back, carried 49 states in a landslide reelection, and went on to oversee an economic boom and change world history by pushing the Soviet Union into collapse.”
Gingrich argues that the media is also failing to take into account Trump’s overall moment in history. Looked at in this context, with the broader international picture taken into account, Trump’s numbers don’t look that bad.
“[French President] Emmanuel Macron was a 64 percent approval in June. Now, less than two months later, he has fallen to 36 percent…BELOW TRUMP,” wrote Gingrich. “The elite media has also failed to inform viewers that the approval ratings of other world leaders have been recorded at similarly low levels in recent months. For example, British Prime Minister Theresa May earned a 34 percent satisfaction rate, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a July approval rating of 34.2 percent, and the Democratic Party in the United States received 38 percent approval in June.”
Of course, as Gingrich notes, the media doesn’t spend much time talking about those numbers and what they mean for the various institutions suffering from supposedly historic levels of unpopularity.