President Donald Trump keeps pushing an easily debunked lie about his approval rating among Republicans, even going so far as to promote poll numbers that seemingly do not exist.
The latest instance came on Monday morning, when Trump, in an apparent effort to make people believe he’s more popular than he really is, tweeted, “94% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, a record. Thank you!”
That tweet marked at least the fourth time in the past two months that Trump has made some variant of the same false claim on Twitter. (Trump has said it offline as well.)
But there are two significant respects in which Trump’s claim is false: One, his approval rating isn’t that high, and two, even if it was, it wouldn’t be a record.
Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is not as high as he claims
First off, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans isn’t the 94 percent he claims — it’s actually about 10 points lower. The Washington Post provided an overview of the relevant polling last month, after Trump posted a tweet on August 23 touting the fake Republican approval number he loves to cite:
A Monmouth University poll released Thursday found 84 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s job performance, while an AP-NORC poll found that 79 percent do. His highest recent approval mark among fellow Republicans was 88 percent in a Fox News poll of registered voters earlier this month.
Trump’s claim of 94 percent approval among Republicans is also higher than in a Zogby Analytics poll released earlier this month that Trump has touted. That firm, whose surveys do not rely on a random sample of U.S. voters and whose pre-election polls have often been inaccurate, put Trump’s approval rating among Republicans at 86 percent.
In short, it’s unclear where Trump is getting his “94%” number from. But whatever its origins, it is not coming from a reputable source.
Even if it were true, 94 percent Republican approval would not be “a record”
It’s not the case that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is 94 percent, but even if it were, it wouldn’t be the “record” he claims.
As Politifact detailed in June, when Trump claimed during a news conference with then-British Prime Minister Theresa May that “I have a 90 to 94 percent approval rating, as of this morning, in the Republican Party ... an all-time record,” he was discounting George W. Bush’s GOP approval rating in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, which hit 99 percent. In fact, Trump’s Republican approval rating during his first 30 months in office lagged behind not just George W. Bush, but George H.W. Bush as well.
So Trump’s claim is a lie about a lie. But that sort of thing is par for the course for him.
Trump loves lying about polls
As I’ve extensively detailed, Trump is shameless when it comes to lying about polling. Last month, for instance, he repeatedly touted a disreputable Zogby poll that inflated his general approval rating by about 10 percent. Earlier in the summer, when internal Trump campaign polling that showed the president lagging behind Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden in key battleground states leaked to the media, Trump responded in much the same way — by tweeting out a disreputable poll from Rasmussen showing his overall approval rating at an inflated 50 percent.
But Trump has reserved his most shameless polling-related lies for claims about his Republican approval rating. In July, for instance, he tweeted that his GOP approval was the highest “in the history of the Republican Party. That includes Honest Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. There must be something wrong, please recheck that poll!”
Indeed, there was “something wrong” — namely that public opinion polling didn’t even exist during Abe Lincoln’s time.
Republican approval doesn’t matter as much as Trump seems to think it does
According to Gallup’s latest numbers, a mere 27 percent of Americans currently identify as Republicans, compared to 29 percent who identify as Democrats and 40 percent who identify as Independents.
So while Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is no doubt strong, it doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot — especially when compared to his broader approval rating, which is mired in the low 40s, and his bleak numbers in hypothetical matchups against the 2020 Democratic frontrunners.
But Trump’s falsehoods about his Republican approval rating do say something about the ease and shamelessness with which he lies. The president is not only willing to cherry-pick polls to portray himself as more popular than he really is, but in this case he’s apparently willing to pluck numbers out of thin air.