If you have tuned into cable news or opened a newspaper recently, chances are you have come across a story highly critical of President Trump. However, despite the constant negative coverage trained on the President, its effect on Americans’ opinions appears to be muted.
By comparing Trump’s approval rates with media coverage positivity rates, an interesting phenomenon is revealed — the media is far more critical of Trump than average citizens are. Findings suggest three noteworthy revelations:
- In general, Americans are four times more positive on Trump as the mainstream media is.
- Of those who voted for Trump, 96 percent say they would do it again.
- Trump’s retention of support is so much greater than Clinton’s that if a rerun election were to be held, the popular vote would likely go to Trump.
Analyzing “all President Trump job approval polling data,” RealClearPolitics currently shows that Trump has a 40 percent approval rate. However, nearly all coverage from media outlets paint a very darker picture of the President.
A report by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy shows that during Trump’s first 100 days in office, media outlets produced overwhelmingly negative reports on the new President. It found that CNN (7 percent positive), NBC (7 percent positive), CBS (9 percent positive), The New York Times (13 percent positive), and The Washington Post (17 percent positive) all reported extremely critically about Trump and his activities.
However, at his 100-day mark, Trump had an approval rating of 42 percent and a disapproval rating of 53 percent. Therefore, while press coverage from the major media outlets mentioned above only averaged 10.6 percent positive, Americans were actually 42 percent approving of Trump. Therefore, Americans are roughly four times more likely to view Trump positively than their TV networks and newspapers are.
Trump’s best and worst weeks in terms of media criticism are especially interesting to analyze.
Week 12 of Trump’s presidency, when he launched missiles at a Syrian air base, was the week when Trump received his most positive media coverage. Even during that week, though, coverage only reached 30 percent positive. However, a survey found that 67 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s action of launching missiles that week. Overall, during his twelfth week, Trump’s approval rating was 40 percent, 10 percentage points better than the press reported on him.
Trump’s worst periods according to the media were weeks 3 and 4, when his first executive order regarding immigration from a handful of Muslim-majority countries was struck down by federal judges; and weeks 9 and 10, when the House was unable to muster the votes necessary to repeal and replace Obamacare.
His week 3 coverage was 15 percent positive and his week 4 coverage was just 12 percent positive. Yet during those periods, actual approval ratings were not nearly that bad. Trump received 41 percent approval during week 3 and 40 percent approval during week 4.
In his ninth and tenth weeks in the Oval Office, Trump received only 15 percent and 10 percent positive media coverage, respectively. Yet, approval ratings were still at 39 percent and 38 percent those weeks, showing remarkably little movement from the previous month.
This illustrates that, as a whole, Americans are not nearly as pessimistic about their president as the press is. Furthermore, polls have found that specifically from his supporters, Trump actually enjoys strikingly high approval rates.
A May 13 Gallup report, for example, found President Trump has 88 percent approval among Republicans. And a recent poll, conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post, found that virtually all of those who voted for Trump would vote for him again. It reported that 96 percent of those who cast their ballots for Trump back in November say they would do it again if the election were today, and only 2 percent say they regret voting for Trump. The poll concluded that “no evidence of buyer’s remorse among Trump supporters” was found. Trump has met his voters’ expectations.
Perhaps even more interesting is the finding that, while Trump has retained nearly all of his supporters, Clinton has not been so successful. In fact, she has been so unsuccessful in keeping the support of her voters that if a rerun election were held today, Trump would quite possibly win the popular vote by three percentage points.
Forty-six percent of poll respondents said they voted for Clinton, and 43 percent said they voted for Trump. However, the poll discovered that only 85 percent of Clinton’s supporters stood by their decision. Weighing that percent against Trump’s 96 percent retainment of support, a hypothetical re-vote would produce a 43-40 percent Trump lead in the popular vote.
Therefore, it is clear that the media reports on Trump are not representative of how Americans actually feel about his presidency. Trump has a near-perfect retention of voters’ support and an overall 40 percent approval record. Yet, the media reports on him as if he is doing the worst job possible. Americans, however, appear to be increasingly tuning the media out.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore