Inside The Numbers: What Americans Are Thinking Post-Election

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The Pew Research Center, of whom we’re huge fans, put out some interesting post-election survey numbers today we feel are worth a gander.

Pew starts their article with a statement that should surprise no one:

“For most voters, the 2016 presidential campaign was one to forget. Post-election evaluations of the way that the winning candidate, the parties, the press and the pollsters conducted themselves during the campaign are all far more negative than after any election dating back to 1988.”

With that fairly obvious observation out of the way, let’s look at some of Pew’s numbers. Here is a graph showing how voters feel Trump and Clinton conducted their campaigns. It shouldn’t be surprising that many feel both conducted themselves poorly, but it is telling that far more were displeased with how the winner, Donald Trump, acted.0_1

Pew says of these results:

“Voters’ “grades” for the way Trump conducted himself during the campaign are the lowest for any victorious candidate in 28 years. Just 30% of voters give Trump an A or B, 19% grade him at C, 15% D, while about a third (35%) give Trump a failing grade. Four years ago, most voters (57%) gave Obama an A or B, and after his 2008 election, 75% gave him an A or B.”

Here is a chart that goes to the heart of a discussion we had with Forrest Dunbar on The Midnight Sun Podcast (if you aren’t already a regular listener, give it one try and you will be) that unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor.

We wondered if Americans would give Mr. Trump the normal “honeymoon” period most new presidents get. Trump ran a nasty and divisive campaign, there is no doubt, but Americans are at heart an understanding bunch willing to give anyone a chance.

We felt Americans, even Trump-hating liberals would give him an opportunity to show his campaign rhotic was just a “means-justify-the-ends” exercise and that his administration would be far more traditional in practice. That is a break every new president in modern history has been afforded. As a result, we expected to see Americans give Mr. Trump an initial approval rating over 50% while they reserved judgment for what they saw him do once in office.0_3

We don’t want to put words in Dunbar’s mouth, but we believe we’re being fair to say he disagreed, thinking Americans already feel they known and can make a judgment on Trump right from the get go. He prognosticated an initial approval rating for Mr. Trump under 40%.

So here is where we have a bit of split data. This graphic would indicate that even a large majority Clinton supporters are willing to give Trump a chance.

So we were right, right? Not so fast.

Data published by Gallop last week showing Trump’s first post-election favorability had him at only 42%. Yes, that is a “honeymoon” improvement from his deplorable numbers in the mid-thirties that had been the norm, but they are far from the traditional high-50s to low-60s first favorability numbers for newly elected presidents in recent memory.

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Is it possible Americans want to believe they are giving the new president a fair chance, while actually not? We think that is exactly what is happening.

Here is another set of interesting Pew numbers that forecasts a continuation of the deep partisan divide our country faces. Most Democrats want leaders to stand up to Trump while few Trump supporters want him to include Democrats in his administration.

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You can view Pew’s full article here and in case you are interested in the details of the survey, here is how they describe their methodology:

“The quadrennial post-election survey by Pew Research Center, conducted November 10-14 among 1,254 voters who were originally interviewed before the election, finds that half are happy that Trump won the election, while nearly as many (48%) are unhappy. That is little different from initial reactions to the election result four years ago, when 52% were happy that Barack Obama won.”

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About the Author

Casey Reynolds
Reynolds served as communications director for the Alaska Republican Party from 2008-2011. He left the Party in 2011 to host his own popular morning radio political talk show on AM750 / FM103.7 KFQD. Reynolds now runs The Midnight Sun (midnightsunak.com), crowned by the Anchorage Press as “Alaska’s best political blog.”