Trump still loves polls – POLITICO
As a TV host, Donald Trump loved ratings. As president, he loves polls—as long as they show him on the upswing.
He crowed on Twitter hours after landing back in Washington from his 12-day Asia tour about his Rasmussen number—46 percent—noting it was “one of the most accurate” in 2016, and decried “fake news” polls showing his approval in the 30s while also suggesting, with no evidence, that “some people” think his numbers could be in the 50s. (The Rasmussen poll sank to 42 percent on Friday.)
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Aides in the White House often show Trump polls designed to make him feel good, according to aides and advisers. Usually they’re the ones that focus just on voters who cast ballots for him in 2016 or are potential Trump supporters —Trump’s base—but occasionally include public polls like Rasmussen, depending on what the numbers say.
“You know, I thought that he’d be a little less in campaign mode than he’s been. I think he’s never really kind of gotten out of campaign mode and I thought he might,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump adviser. “I guess it’s his judgment that that’s what he has to do but that’s surprised me a little bit.”
Keeping track of polls while in office isn’t unusual. President Bill Clinton infamously had his pollster Dick Morris survey voters about where to go on vacation before the 1996 election—the data led the Clintons to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, after previously summering on Martha’s Vineyard—and President Barack Obama asked his pollster Joel Benenson to collect public opinon data as the 2009 stimulus bill took shape.
“Usually you know what you want to do [in office], and you have to figure out, ‘What’s the best argument for persuading the greatest amount of people?’” Benenson said.
George W. Bush cared less about polling early in his term, said Ari Fleischer, his former press secretary.
“If you came into his office and said, ‘The polls say this, the polls say that’ — it was the easiest way to get kicked out,” said Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer.
That’s not the case in Trump’s White House, which uses polls not just to cheer the president up but to get other Republicans in line.
“The polls are about the base,” one adviser said. “He cares about the base.”
When the White House sent internal poll numbers to about 15 legislators last month in hopes of pressuring them to support tax reform, it wasn’t the usual approve-disapprove.
Instead, the polls delineated by the president’s base, steady Trump voters, soft Trump voters, lean Dem independent voters, white working class men, suburban women. For example, in New Jersey’s seventh congressional district, a wealthier stretch that includes Trump’s Bedminster golf club, 72.7 percent of the president’s base approves of him, while 67.9 percent of Republicans approve, internal polls obtained by POLITICO show. There was no data on his approval rating overall.
The numbers came from the Republican National Committee. An RNC spokeswoman said the data is available to show “the priorities and sentiments of voters in a way that traditional polling does not.”
“The White House routinely briefs members of Congress on the strong support that the president and his legislative agenda in their districts, particularly tax cuts for middle-income Americans,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.