Friday, December 07, 2018


On Wednesday evening, President Trump tweeted this, quoting a poll number from the shamelessly pro-Republican polling firm Rasmussen:

The media saw a connection between the tweet and the day's other big news story in the capital:

As The Washington Post's Timothy Bella wrote:
Although it’s not unusual for Trump to tweet about his higher-than-average polling numbers from Rasmussen, the timing of the tweet was peculiar, specifically on the day of Bush’s state funeral in which, as The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker noted, the president looked uncomfortable surrounded by all his living predecessors for the first time. The message also came after the themes presented in the eulogies for the 41st president — “His life code was: ‘Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course,’” remembered Bush biographer Jon Meacham — offered something of a jarring contrast to Trump and his presidency.
But a report today from Jonathan Swan and Mike Allen at Axios suggests that Trump might not have sent this tweet because he felt a desperate need to praise himself after sitting through all the praise for Poppy Bush:
Sharp stock market plunges affect Trump’s psyche, sources close to Trump say. He often asks aides: “What’s the Dow doing today?” A former administration official told Axios that Trump always needs a simple metric to use to brag about his performance. During the 2016 primaries it was the polls. When polls were no longer good for him, he replaced them with the booming stock market. Now that previously trusty measure of success is no longer boast-worthy.
Trump might also have been in a need of a hug from Rasmussen because of the funeral, but it seems likely that he's grasping for a new, or maybe old, metric that proves he's the best because the Dow isn't a reliable source of good news anymore.

But what happens if both the Dow and Trump's poll numbers are bad? The Dow could continue to be a problem for Trump -- but Rasmussen is unlikely to let him down for very long. Besides, as the Post's Philip Bump noted yesterday, it doesn't take much to encourage Trump to pat himself on the back:
This is not the first time that Trump has tweeted a number from an approval poll. In fact, he’s done it about two dozen times.... That frequency allows us to create a sort of Trump Approval Polling Trend chart, stringing together the numbers he’s shared....

One thing you will notice is that the trend is ... mostly flat. Trump’s tweet about his 50 percent approval is at least the seventh time he has celebrated a 50 percent approval rating, which is a bit like Apple repeatedly sending out news releases touting its stock hitting $170. At some point, a canny observer will note that either nothing much is ever changing or that, between those news releases, the stock is seeing some drops.

... [And] we should note that at least three of the times he’s tweeted poll numbers, those numbers have been incorrect, estimated or nonexistent.
So all he needs in order to get that self-esteem boost is a new poll saying he's at 50%, or near 50%. He'll tweet it as a sign of progress, even if he tweeted a 50% poll as a sign of progress a week or two ago. Trump has a fragile ego, but it's fairly for him to find reassurance that, in fact, he's the greatest.

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