Trump’s low approval rating contains an unwanted surprise for liberals

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What’s the deal with President Donald Trump’s approval rating?

A new poll from Gallup found that 40 percent approve of Trump’s job performance thus far, while 55 percent disapprove. In March it hit a low of 37 percent, which is a low that Barack Obama never saw during his administration.

But at the same time, the polls also show that only 3 percent of Trump supporters regret their vote. So what are we to make of the numbers? Trump’s approval is historically low, but nearly everyone who voted for the guy plans on doing it again.

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To some extent, you can blame the media. Roughly 93 percent of the mainstream media’s coverage of Trump’s first 100 days in office was negative, but it’s still not Trump’s policies that voters disapprove of. In fact, his policies are popular — but his personality is not.

According to HotAir:

The silver lining for Trump is that, for all the criticism he draws in the media about pushing bad policy or doing a poor job as president, that’s not what sticks out to his critics. Overwhelmingly anti-Trumpers are anti mainly because they disdain Trump the man, not Trump the ideologue or Trump the C-in-C.

For definitional purposes, “personality” includes things like “not presidential/bad temperament/arrogant/obnoxious” and “inexperienced/doesn’t know what he is doing” while “broad performance evaluations” encompasses “disagree with what he is doing/doing a poor job” and “not fulfilling his campaign promises/all talk and no action.” (“Issues/specific policies” is self-explanatory.) For anti-Obamaites in 2009, it wasn’t personality but policy that drove most objections. And for Dubya in 2001, it was neither. Rather, it seems, most anti-Bushies basically just thought he was doing a poor job of leadership.

How much of that split is circumstantial and how much is essential? For instance, it’s no surprise that most of the backlash to Obama at this point eight years ago was driven by policy. The guy had just rammed through the stimulus in response to the financial crisis and was eyeing a massive leftist overhaul of the health-insurance industry. If you were a right-wing Obama critic, obviously it was the “transformational” potential of Obama’s presidency while he had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — health care, guns, immigration, you name it — that kept you up at night. 

Trump is larger than life as a personality, possibly the most ubiquitous human being who’s ever lived at this particular moment in time in this particular media culture. He was a tabloid curiosity turned national celebrity turned TV star turned president. It’d be weird if his detractors didn’t react to his personality first and foremost given how much the Trump persona defines every political question now.

So if his personality is the main problem people have with Trump — we can only cross our fingers and pray that Democrats run another candidate with the personality (or lack thereof) of Hillary Clinton in 2020.

[Note: This post was written by Matt Palumbo. He is a co-author of the new book A Paradoxical Alliance: Islam and the Left, and can be found on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]

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