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Republicans Are Coming Home To Trump

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the Week

Gallup’s most recent weekly survey, conducted from Feb. 5 to 11, showed President Trump’s job approval rating among self-identified Republicans at 86 percent. It was the third straight week that his rating was above 85 percent — an improvement compared with 2017. Trump’s support among Republicans spent much of last year in the low 80s, even dipping into the 70s at times.

SurveyMonkey polling from the first week of February shows a similar pattern: 89 percent of Republicans1 said they approve of Trump’s handling of his job as president. And the share of Republicans who “strongly approve” — in the mid-50s for much of last year — is up to 61 percent.

It’s not totally clear why Trump is getting a boost among Republicans. Perhaps positive economic news has brought some wary GOP voters home. Perhaps Republican partisans are happy that Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress passed some major legislation. But that increased support is showing up in Trump’s overall approval rating. It was stuck in the high 30s for a lot of last year but is now in the low 40s.

Presidents traditionally have overwhelming support from Americans in their own parties. But Trump’s support among Republicans in 2017 was soft, at least by recent historical standards. George W. Bush’s approval rating, for example, didn’t fall below 85 percent among Republicans during his first year in office, according to Gallup, and Obama’s was generally in the high 80s and low 90s among Democrats throughout 2009.

Why does this matter? Generally, presidents with low approval ratings drag down their parties’ down-ballot candidates. Indeed, special elections in 2017 and this year have showed Democrats outperforming almost everywhere.

But Trump’s more solid backing in the Republican Party could have more direct effects too. For example:

  • Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had announced that he would retire at the end of his term, is now considering running for a third term in 2018. Corker spent much of 2017 bashing the president. But with Trump in a stronger position among Republicans now, anyone running in a competitive GOP primary in a heavily Republican state like Tennessee probably needs to be pro-Trump. That might explain why Corker is reportedly seeking the president’s support before he decides if he will enter the race.
  • White House chief of staff John Kelly appears to have bungled the administration’s handling of an official who was allowed to remain in a top administration post even after the FBI told the White House about its investigation that revealed accusations he had abused his two ex-wives.2 But what congressional Republican would call for Kelly to resign and risk pissing off the president and perhaps his base or the GOP base, which may now be essentially one and the same?

Other polling nuggets

  • O-No? A poll released last week by Meredith College, which is in Raleigh, North Carolina, found Oprah Winfrey trailing Trump in the state in a hypothetical 2020 election head-to-head matchup. Trump was at 48 percent, compared with Winfrey’s 38 percent. Yes, it’s 2018. We have no idea who is running in 2020, and Winfrey probably isn’t.
  • As recently as 2010, there were more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals in all 50 states, according to Gallup. That’s no longer the case. By the end of 2016, there were more liberals than conservatives in four states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont). And in Gallup data released last week, that number was up to nine, with the addition of California, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
  • In a recent NPR/Ipsos poll, more than three-quarters of Democrats, Republicans and independents told pollsters that it was “true” that Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic group in the U.S. (That’s wrong: Asians are the fast-growing group.)
  • According to a Marist poll released this week, 68 percent of Americans believe that there is intelligent life on other planets. Only about half of Americans believed that in May 2005, when Marist last asked. Among those who believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life, about half believe that aliens are more intelligent than humans and that they will find us before we find them.
  • A recent Marist poll found that 41 percent of Americans think Russia is “likely” or “very likely” to interfere with the U.S. midterm elections; 53 percent said such interference was “not very likely” or “not likely at all.” Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll found that 44 percent of registered voters believe that it’s “very” or “somewhat” likely that Russia will try to influence the 2020 presidential election; 32 percent said it was “not too likely” or “not likely at all.”
  • Recent polls by YouGov, Morning Consult and Public Policy Polling all asked how Americans felt about holding a parade of military convoys in Washington later this year (an idea that Trump has floated). The polls showed Americans split on the issue, with opinions divided by party about as you’d expect:
Support for military parades follows party lines

Share of people who support or oppose a military parade, February 2018

Democrats Republicans
Pollster Support Oppose Net Support Oppose Net
YouGov 17% 68% -51 63% 23% +40
Morning Consult 31 48 -17 67 17 +50
Public Policy Polling 17 73 -56 56 32 +24
Average 22 63 -41 62 24 +38

Note: YouGov results are among adults; Morning Consult and PPP’s are among registered voters.

  • 34 percent of respondents (including 20 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans) said they believed the “deep state” was working to overthrow Trump, according to a YouGov poll from January.
  • California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, is ahead of Democratic challenger Kevin de León 46 percent to 17 percent in the June primary, according to a new Public Policy Institutute of California poll. De León, leader of the California Senate, is running as a liberal alternative to the longtime senator. (The two top finishers, no matter their parties, move on to the general election.)
  • According to a Selzer & Co. poll of Iowans: 73 percent believe that the state of local mental health services is either a big problem or in crisis, 78 percent favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, 58 percent oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, 81 percent believe that a pathway to citizenship for participants in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is a worthy goal, and 65 percent said the same for undocumented workers as a whole.
  • When registered voters in New York were asked by Quinnipiac University if they wanted to see New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York run for president in 2020, a majority said “no thanks” to all three.
  • The Canadian polling firm Insights West surveyed a representative sample of Canadians who are in a relationship and found that 62 percent agreed that Valentine’s Day is a waste of time and money. Yet, only 33 percent didn’t plan to buy a gift.

Trump’s job approval rating

Trump’s job approval rating is at 41.5 percent, while his disapproval rating is at 53.2 percent. Last week, his approval rating was 41 percent, compared with a disapproval rating of 54 percent.

The generic ballot

The Democrats hold a 46.9 percent to 40.4 percent advantage on the generic congressional ballot this week. Last week, Democrats were up 47.1 percent to 40.2 percent.

Dhrumil Mehta contributed research.


  1. A nearly identical 88 percent of respondents who “lean” Republican approved of Trump’s performance.

  2. The official has since resigned.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.