On Friday, Rasmussen Reports (a respected public opinion polling company) claimed that according to their daily presidential tracking survey, President Trump would be “ending his first year in office with virtually the same job approval ratings that Barack Obama earned on Dec. 29, 2009, at the end of his first year as president.”
President Trump’s approval rating stands at 45%, while his disapproval rating stands at 53%, reports Rasmussen. On the same date in 2009, then-President Obama’s approval stood at 46%, with his disapproval at 53%.
The Rasmussen poll generated headlines and numerous social media posts, some of which castigated the mainstream press for allegedly ignoring the numbers. The president himself even tweeted about the poll:
As of publication, Trump’s tweet has nearly 97,000 “likes,” and it has been retweeted approximately 22,800 times.
Here’s the problem — the Rasmussen poll is an outlier in a field of polls showing a lower overall approval rating for the president. As of December 30, RealClearPolitics (RCP) has President Trump’s average approval at 40%, which includes the bump from the Rasmussen poll. President Obama’s RCP average during late-December 2009 was 49.9%.
President Trump’s tweet, as well as many of the positive tweets and headlines that have been written about the Rasmussen poll, present an incomplete picture. Because of the way in which many of these tweets and headlines are being framed, some will come to the erroneous conclusion that the Rasmussen poll is, rather than a single outlier, reflective of Trump’s average approval rating.
If, in order to benefit a preferred narrative, one presents incomplete information in such a manner that it can be easily misinterpreted by others as unabridged truth, they are engaging in an act of deception. Conservatives should strive to be intellectually honest in all circumstances, even if such honesty doesn’t settle neatly in our stomachs.
We must not be compelled to promulgate half-truths and incomplete information as a defense against real or perceived bias. Rather, we must combat lies with reality, even if that’s a more difficult endeavor.
President Trump’s average approval rating at the end of his first year in office is not the same as Obama’s — and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Instead, let’s celebrate Trump’s achievements, make note of his failures, and persuade others of the merits of those achievements without resorting to deceptive tactics.