Monday, April 26, 2021


Four years ago, when President Trump was approaching the end of his first hundred days in office, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that he had a 40% job approval rating and a 54% job disapproval rating. NBC's headline and lede were straightforward:
Public Gives Trump Low Marks for First 100 Days: NBC News/WSJ Poll

Nearly two-thirds of Americans give President Donald Trump poor or middling marks for his first 100 days in office, including a plurality who say he’s off to a “poor start,” according to results from a brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The NBC poll as President Biden finishes his first hundred days has him at 53% approval, 39% disapproval. The writeup:
Poll: At 100 days, Biden's approval remains strong. Can the honeymoon last?

As President Joe Biden nears his 100th day in office, slightly more than half of Americans say they approve of his job performance. Biden gets his highest marks on handling the Covid-19 pandemic and his lowest on the situation at the southern border.

Those are the results of a new national NBC News poll, which also found a public that’s largely supportive of Biden’s top legislative priorities; more optimistic about defeating the pandemic; and more bullish about the country’s direction than it was back in January.
The public liked Biden's first hundred days more than Trump's, and NBC said so. That's appropriate.

So what's up with ABC?

An ABC News/Washington Post poll has Biden at 52% job approval, 42% job disapproval. The job approval is one point lower than in the NBC poll -- but whereas NBC says Biden's "approval remains strong," ABC says this:
Biden's 100 days: Low-end approval, yet strong marks on pandemic response: POLL

Intense partisanship is holding Joe Biden to a tepid job approval rating -- the third-lowest for any president at 100 days in office since Harry Truman -- along with continued economic dislocation, pandemic impacts and questions about Biden's view of the size and role of government.
So how did Donald Trump look at this point four years ago, according to the same poll? His numbers, as in the NBC poll, were much lower than Biden's -- 42% approval, 53% disapproval. And while it was impossible to argue that those were good numbers, the writeup looked on the sunny side:
President Trump at 100 days: No honeymoon but no regrets (POLL)

There's no honeymoon for Donald Trump in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll but also no regrets: He approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any other president in polls since 1945 — yet 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they'd do so again today.
If you continue reading ABC's summary of the Trump poll, you get the facts about what it says:
His challenges are considerable. Majorities say Trump lacks the judgment and the temperament it takes to serve effectively. Six in 10 doubt his honesty and trustworthiness, see him as out of touch and don't think he understands the problems of people like them. Fifty-six percent say he hasn't accomplished much in his first 100 days. And 55 percent say he doesn't follow a consistent set of principles in setting policy (though fewer, 48 percent, see this as a problem).
But there's a determination to put a positive spin on Trump's numbers:
Still, the national survey finds some brighter spots for Trump, chiefly in pushing for jobs and in foreign policy, as well as deep popularity problems for the opposition party. Sixty-seven percent say the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most Americans — even more than say the same about Trump and similar to thenumber for Republican Party (62 percent).
It's as if this is written for fans of Trump's personality and rhetoric: He has "no regrets"; he doesn't have failures, only "challenges"; and if you think he's unpopular, what about the Democrats?

Biden's numbers are good, but the subtext of the poll writeup is "relax, they'll fall soon."
All told, 52% of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Biden's work in office, lower than any president at 100 days in office since 1945, save Gerald Ford in 1974 (48%, after his unpopular pardon of Richard Nixon) and Donald Trump at 42% in 2017. For the 14 presidents from Truman to Biden, the 100-day average is 66%.

... 53% express concern that Biden will do too much to increase the size and role of government in U.S. society. Relatedly, 40% see him as "too liberal," more than either of his most recent Democratic predecessors at 100 days – Barack Obama, 33%, and Bill Clinton, 26%. (This rose for Obama later in his presidency.)

... Biden's rating for handling the economy is essentially the same as Trump's in January, marking this as a clear challenge. Indeed, just 42% of Americans rate the economy positively, far below its pre-pandemic level; 58% instead say it's in not-so-good or poor shape. Presidential fortunes often are closely linked to economic conditions.
And respondents who voted for Biden aren't asked whether they think they made the right choice. The feelings of Trump voters were a source of endless fascination for the media and pollsters throughout his presidency, and remain so to this day. No one seems to care what Biden voters think.

NBC demonstrates that poll information of this kind can be played straight. I'm not sure why ABC can't manage that.

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