As the White House scrambles to explain why it took so long to fire a staffer accused of domestic violence, as the knives come out for Chief of Staff John Kelly, as Republicans continue to war with the FBI, and as the stock market gets more volatile — President Donald Trump’s approval rating is the best it’s been in nine months.
On Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight’s approval rating tracker, a weighted average of various pollsters’ findings, showed Trump with an approval rating of 41.2 percent.
That’s his best result since all the way back in mid-May, when his approval plunged amid controversy over his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
The improvement happened after Republicans passed their tax cut
To put Trump’s ratings so far in a bit more context, the lowest he’s ever been in FiveThirtyEight’s tracker was 36.4 percent — on December 16, 2017.
A few days after Trump’s rating hit its nadir, the GOP tax cut bill passed — finally giving Republican voters a legislative achievement to be happy about from what had seemed like a feckless Congress so far. Trump’s approval has headed upward in the two months since (except for a small drop in late January).
None of the drama in 2018 so far — Michael Wolff’s book, the porn star hush money scandal, the “shithole” comments, the government shutdown, and the Rob Porter domestic violence scandal — seems to have done Trump’s approval rating any lasting damage.
Still, the improvement has been relatively small — a little under 5 points in the past two months, which isn’t an enormous change.
Trump’s rating is still the worst of any president at this point
And Trump shouldn’t break out the champagne just yet. His approval is still the lowest for any president at this point in his tenure since modern polling came about, according to FiveThirtyEight’s historical comparisons. Here’s how other presidents polled around day 390 of their term (where Trump is):
Even now, Trump is polling 6.5 percentage points behind where President Obama was in February 2010, and 14 points behind where Bill Clinton was in February 1994.
Since both Clinton and Obama went on to see enormous losses for their parties in their first midterm elections, Trump’s rating can’t be all that comforting for the GOP. Still, a generic ballot about which party should control Congress has similarly gotten closer of late. And Trump’s approval ratings are headed in the right direction for him, and for the GOP.