The inner man-child that is within President Donald Trump made its periodic appearance Tuesday while deriding his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. In a tweet,Trump thanked a questionable poll, which gave him favorable ratings, while also implying that Obama was a cheater.
Thank you to Rasmussen for the honest polling. Just hit 50%, which is higher than Cheatin’ Obama at the same time in his Administration.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018
“Thank you to Rasmussen for the honest polling,” Trump wrote. “Just hit 50%, which is higher than Cheatin’ Obama at the same time in his Administration.”
There’s much to dissect from this monstrosity of a statement.
First, Trump’s tweet is curious in that he gives thanks to a polling organization. Polls are supposed to provide a reflection of what the attitudes of the public are, yet Trump seems to think that Rasmussen itself is responsible for the positive numbers. It reveals that the president is clueless when it comes to how polls work.
Furthermore, Rasmussen has a history of revealing more favorable numbers for Republicans in its polls than for Democrats. Their skewing has been well-documented in the past, and it bucks what other pollsters have to say about Trump’s approval numbers today. Indeed, even with Rasmussen included, Trump’s ratio of approval versus disapproval trends in the red, with the current Real Clear Politics study of polls demonstrating he has an average approval rating of 41.8 percent, with the typical poll also showing his disapproval rating is at 53.2 percent.
Trump doesn’t cite those other polls, and for good reason (at least in his mind): They don’t provide him proof of his supposed excellence. But as statistician Nate Silver pointed out (nearly half a decade before Trump even assumed office), hedging all of your bets on a single poll like Rasmussen is a fool’s errand.
Thinking every poll but Rasmussen is skewed is literally as delusional as believing that 9/11 was a conspiracy.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 25, 2012
A second problem with Trump’s tweet from Tuesday is that it purports he’s better than Obama. Polls don’t determine whether someone is better than another, just whether they’re more popular or not. But even if we ignore this point, Trump’s assertions are still wrong: At this time in Obama’s administration, his Real Clear Politics average demonstrated a net positive approval rating. If one looks specifically at Rasmussen alone, Trump is right — but as already pointed out, it’s foolhardy to take into account just one polling outfit.
Is Trump doing better than Obama? On other measures, Trump is lagging behind him. At this point in both men’s presidency, Obama presided over a stronger showing in improvements in the stock market, for example. John Harwood from CNBC pointed this out in a tweet earlier this week:
rise in Dow Jones Industrial Average from presidential inauguration to first market day of April the following year:— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) April 2, 2018
On jobs, Trump’s first full year in office was successful. But it pales in comparison to his predecessor’s record, and not just Obama’s last year in office either: Trump’s first year of job creation was below Obama’s past six years while president.
All of this is after you consider that Obama didn’t start out in a good place: The nation, and the world, was embroiled in a global economic recession. When Obama took office, the country had been losing hundreds of thousands of jobs per month. His efforts helped turn that around into positive jobs numbers. Trump, on the other hand, started his tenure on third base, inheriting the positive economic numbers that Obama helped establish.
Finally, the current president is clearly projecting his own insecurities onto his predecessor when he calls him “Cheatin’ Obama.” While no scandal of character involving the former president’s marriage ever materialized during his tenure (or since), the same cannot be said of Trump, who is on his third marriage, the result of reported infidelities. His salacious affairs with adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal — as well as roughly 20 accusations of sexual assault that have been leveled against him — showcase that the person most deserving of the moniker of “cheatin’” is not Obama, but rather Trump himself.
The current president is living in a fantasy world, one in which he childishly mocks the person who held his job title before him. He claims that more people approve of his job as president, but that is impossible to believe given the evidence at hand. What’s more, most Americans look back at Obama with positivity, with 63 percent giving him a favorable rating according to a poll from February.
The current president, meanwhile, must cherry-pick a disreputable poll’s numbers, disregarding all others in the same breath. His supporters may eat it up, but those who have a memory capacity greater than a goldfish will note all of the ways in which Trump has done poorly since becoming president, and recognize his tweet on Tuesday morning for what it is: a childish cry for attention and validation emanating from a decidedly incompetent commander-in-chief.