Jan 20, 2017

What Trump taught us on data


Jose Luis Magana / AP

Upshot's Nate Cohn digs under the data showing that Trump enters as an unprecedentedly unpopular president.

Perhaps Trump is, indeed, "a historically weak political figure who benefited from historically weak opposition. The other possibility is that there's something about Mr. Trump's appeal that's not captured in the traditional approval ratings or the character questions.

"One piece of evidence seems consistent with this possibility: the seeming optimism about his presidency … [T]he most recent CNN poll says that just 40 percent of adults approve of his performance, but … 61 percent say that he'll bring back well-paying jobs to economically depressed areas."

Sound smart: Applying traditional metrics to Trump means we haven't learned anything in the past 19 months. What those numbers tell me is that voters are pessimistic about Trump's ability/willingness to do the job, but more bullish about his big themes. That's easier for him to fix than if it were the other way around. He has a low bar to clear to be seen as competent in the job, and lots of room for surprise to the upside.

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