Authors : Ariel Edwards-Levy, Grace Sparks

Posted : 05/16/2017


With much of the political oxygen taken up in the last few weeks by questions over the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia and by the GOP’s efforts to pass a health care bill, there’s been relatively little discussion about the state of the economy.
But as the months have ticked on since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, he’s been slowly losing support for his handling of the economy, with his approval rating now only tenuously above water.
Trump’s numbers on the economy were formerly a bright spot amidst a slew of otherwise poor ratings. When he took office, Americans approved of his handling of the economy by approximately a net 11-point margin, 47 percent to 36 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate. Now, his ratings on the subject are flat, with about 44 percent approving and an equal number disapproving.
Individual tracking polls vary in their exact estimates of Trump’s ratings, but they show similar trends. The three pollsters who have released numbers on Trump’s handling of the economy this month all find the public significantly less happy with his performance than they were when he first took office.

Economic concerns are perpetually a top election issue, and Trump campaigned in part on a pledge to help Americans who felt that the recovery hadn’t reached them. Nearly half of Americans expect Trump to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, and a 37 percent plurality say it’s among the campaign promises they most want to see him keep. He may not have infinite time to do so.
SURVEY RESPONSE RATES HAVE PLATEAUED, A NEW REPORT FINDS ― For the past two decades, pollsters have faced a growing problem: Fewer and fewer Americans are willing to answer their calls. With telemarketing and caller ID on the rise, and landline phones going the way of the dodo, polling has become steadily less efficient and more expensive. Pew Research suggests that by 2012, just about 9 percent of the people they called responded to their surveys, down from 36 percent in the late 1990s.
According to a comprehensive new report Pew released Monday, response rates have since stabilized ― they’re still at about 9 percent. But the accuracy of polls hinge just as much on something called “nonresponse bias” — whether the people who answer polls, as a group, hold different opinions from the ones who don’t. Pew’s report finds that’s still generally not the case, with a few exceptions: People who answer polls are more likely to be highly civically engaged, and, to a lesser extent, politically engaged, than other Americans.
“[C]ontrary to the current narrative that polls are under siege, the data show that the bias introduced into survey data by current levels of participation is limited in scope,” the report’s authors write. [Read the rest of the report here.]
SUPPORT FOR SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS HIGHER THAN EVER ― HuffPollster: “A record high number of adults say that same-sex marriage should be legal in the United States, according to a new poll released on Monday. Gallup first started tracking the question in 1996, and 68 percent then said same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legally valid. Now, the trend has basically reversed, with 64 percent saying it should be legal and 34 percent saying it shouldn’t.” [HuffPost, Gallup]
TRUMP DIDN’T NEED A WATERGATE TO SINK HIS RATINGS ― HuffPollster: “President Donald Trump’s approval rating ― now 41 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster’s average, and 38 percent according to Gallup ― puts him about where Gallup measured President Richard Nixon in July 1973, after months of Senate hearings into the Watergate scandal. Those numbers, however, represent far different political trajectories for the two presidents. For Nixon, the approval rating constituted a major, if gradual slide. He began his second term in 1973 with a robust 68-percent approval in Gallup’s tracking….Trump’s approval ratings, by contrast, are only modestly lower now than they were in the weeks after he was sworn in. His ratings in Gallup’s tracker have thus far remained mired between the high-30s and mid-40s for most of his time in office.”  [HuffPost]
WHAT THE LATEST POLLS SAY ON THE JAMES COMEY FIRING ― In five of the most recent polls to ask about Trump’s decision to remove James Comey as the FBI director, support for the move ranges between just 29 and 39 percent. There’s more variance in the opposition ― polls that gave respondents an explicit chance to say they were undecided put opposition between 33 and 38 percent, while those without such an option put it higher, at 46 to 54 percent. [NBC/SurveyMonkey, Politico/Morning Consult, HuffPost/YouGov, Gallup, NBC/WSJ]