Hold the Presses. NYTimes concedes Trump more popular than they let on

By Dave Andrusko

I’m not sure what/why it is, but when the Trump-hating New York Times runs an analysis with this headline—” Don’t Assume Trump’s Approval Rating Can’t Climb Higher. It already has”–you know something big is up. For example, perhaps, just perhaps, the Major Media may realize it is so lost in trashing President Trump they risk dramatically underestimating how the nation as a whole feels about our 45th president.

Nate Cohen formerly wrote the New Republic, a shell of its former self, by the way, but now writes for what the Times calls “The Upshot.” There are seven or eight major takeaways, here are four.

*First and, for me, foremost, so much political analysis begins with the assumption that President Trump’s best re-election bet is to try to hold on to what he had in 2016—that he is, at best, barely treading water —and that if Democrats produce a more winsome candidate in 2020 than Hillary Clinton, they can only do better.

The former is clearly wrong and the latter questionable. (See below.) As Cohn writes, “[A]n analysis that freezes the president’s standing in 2016 but assumes an improvement for the Democratic nominee would be misleading.” To which I would add, deeply misleading.

*The subhead reads, “Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do.” Cohn notes

The share of Americans who say they have a favorable view of him has increased significantly since the 2016 election.

And over the last few months, some of the highest-quality public opinion polls, though not all, showed the president’s job approval rating — a different measure from personal favorability — had inched up to essentially match the highest level of his term.

*Amplifying on the first takeaway—that Trump’s popularity has not topped out–Cohn observes

But it is not 2016 anymore. Millions of Americans who did not like the president in 2016 now say they do. Over all, his personal favorability rating has increased by about 10 percentage points among registered voters since Election Day 2016, to 44 percent from 34 percent, according to Upshot estimates.

At the risk of stating the obvious, an increase of 10 percentage points is enormous. Without getting too deep in the weeds, some of that increase must be Republicans who opposed Trump in 2016 but it’s also includes Independents or former Democrats.

*Cohn doesn’t buy into the “hidden” or “shy” Trump voter thesis. Be that as it may, he writes

In some periods over the last few months, his job approval rating increased to among the highest levels of his term, according to live-interview telephone polls, long considered the gold standard of public opinion research. In live-interview polls of registered voters since June, Mr. Trump’s job approval rating has averaged 46.4 percent, higher than his 45.9 percent vote share in 2016. (This analysis excludes those respondents who did not offer an opinion about the president.) Curiously, online polls have not shown this same increase; in fact, they’ve shown no increase at all.

As he should, Cohn reminds us that all of this guarantees nothing. Things change—they always do—and we are 15 months away from the 2020 presidential election. And we don’t know whom the Democrats will nominate—and how he or she will fare when the general public finally begins to look at them as a possible president.

But this analysis is not only encouraging, it is a reminder that facts are stubborn things that even Trump haters like the New York Times periodically must acknowledge.