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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reagan and Trump: Favorability

David Freddoso writes of Trump at The Washington Examiner:
His hard-core supporters fail to comprehend just how deeply unpopular he is with everybody else outside their relatively small group. According to the last eight polls taken on the question, Trump has an unfavorable rating of between 60 and 70 percent among the general population that will vote in the 2016 election. He is not that much more popular than the ebola virus. (Although no virus has ever tried to run for president, so we cannot be sure.)

One can quibble with a poll here or there, but to deny that Trump would be the most unpopular person ever nominated for president requires the belief that all current polling is wrong — and not just a bit wrong (as some polls were in 2012 in 2014) but completely, uniformly and entirely wrong in a way it never has been in any modern presidential election. Yet in reality, the polls from April and even March of 2004, 2008, and 2012 were, on aggregate, reliable indicators of the eventual winner in those years.
Gregory Holyk writes at ABC:
Donald Trump ranks as the most unpopular top-tier presidential contender in more than 30 years of ABC News/Washington Post polls, trailing only former Ku Klux Klan leader David Dukeamong presidential candidates in any election year since 1984. 
Some Trump supporters liken him to Reagan, claiming that the Gipper bounced back from unfavorable poll ratings to win the presidency in 1980. You might call it "blatantly false rationalization #6."  As Frank Newport and Lydia Saad explain at Gallup, the premise is dead wrong:
A multitude of polls by other firms whose surveys are archived in the Roper Center polling database confirms Reagan's generally positive 1980 image.
The Los Angeles Times national polls all show that Reagan's image was more favorable than unfavorable, including polls in the fall of 1979 and in June, September and October of 1980. There is no Los Angeles Times poll which can be located from 1980 that shows Reagan with a more unfavorable than favorable image, as is the case with Trump today.
The New York Times/CBS poll provided the best time series of image assessments of Reagan throughout 1980. These polls showed Reagan's favorable rating exceeding his unfavorable rating in each poll conducted in 1980 -- with the exception of September's poll, in which the two figures were even, at 38%. Reagan's image was the most positive in the early months of the year, including polls conducted in January, February, March and April where his favorable rating was always above 50% and his unfavorable at least 19 points lower, with a consistently high "don't know/unable to give an opinion" response percentage. His image dropped later in the year as the campaigning became more intense, but as noted, never moved into net negative territory in the New York Times/CBS polls. The Roper database shows one poll, conducted by NBC News/Associated Press, showing Reagan with a 52% favorable and 35% unfavorable image.