Accuracy in Media

A poll out last weekend from the Washington Post and ABC News that found that support for President Donald Trump is the highest it has been since he took office.

The poll shows Trump’s overall approval rating at 44 percent, with 53 percent disapproving, and his approval among registered voters at 47 percent, compared to 50 percent who don’t approve – a fact mentioned in the Washington Post recap but not ABC’s.

Support for impeaching the president has dropped from 49 percent last August to 37 percent in this poll, with 59 percent opposing impeachment.

ABC News responded with “Trump reaches career-high approval, yet faces a range of re-election risks: Poll,” by Gary Langer, which began: “Bolstered by a strong economy, Donald Trump reached the highest job approval rating of his career in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll and runs competitively for re-election against four of five possible Democratic contenders. Yet he remains broadly unpopular across personal and professional measures, marking his vulnerabilities in the 2020 election.”

The new 44 percent ratings is “up a slight 5 percentage points from April,” ABC wrote. “Still, 53 percent disapprove, keeping him at minority disapproval continuously for his first 2 ½ years in office, a record for any president in modern polling.”

Staying consistent that 5-point swings mean little, ABC also wrote that “Personally, moreover, a broad 65 percent say that since taking office Trump ‘has acted in a way that’s unpresidential,’ not far from the 70 percent who said so in mid-2017 and early 2018 alike.”

The Post also refused to grant the president his clear victory, headlining its story by by Dan Balz and Emily Guskin “Aided by a strong economy, Trump approval rises, but a majority also see him as ‘unpresidential.’”

“Aided by a strong economy and perceptions that he has dealt with it effectively, President Trump’s approval rating has risen to the highest point of his presidency, though a slight majority of Americans continue to say they disapprove of his performance in office, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll,” read the lead.

The Post also asserted “Trump and Republicans are trying to attach the label of ‘socialist’ to all the Democrats,” and it is working. Trump was basically even with all Democrats except Biden, whom he trailed by 10 points, but “asked a generic question about a matchup between Trump and a candidate regarded as a socialist, the president holds a slight edge of 49 percent to 43 percent among registered voters.” A 49-43 victory would produce an electoral landslide for the president.

NBC News changed the language a little to dramatize the results. “Trump reaches highest approval rating of presidency in latest poll,” read its headline. But the subhead read: “However, most Americans in the Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday say Trump has not acted in a way that is fitting and proper for a president.”

Allan Smith’s lead went further down that road. “President Trump just hit his highest approval rating in the Washington Post/ABC News poll so far in his presidency, but the majority of American voters disagree with his handling of every major issue aside from the economy,” Smith wrote.

Trump Reaches Highest Approval Rating of Presidency, But He Trails Biden by 10 Points,” read the headline at Slate.

“President Donald Trump’s approval rating is rising thanks to a strong economy,” Daniel Politi wrote in his lead. “Sure, half of Americans still disapprove of the job he is doing as president and a majority don’t see him as presidential, but his approval rating has never been higher.”

The Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll has Trump at 49 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval. Rasmussen, which was the most accurate pollster in the 2016 cycle, had Trump at 53 percent as recently as April 9 and at 59 percent a few days after he took office in January 2017.

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