Donald Trump Lives In His Own Unique (And False) Version Of Reality

There's the truth, and then there's Donald Trump's version of the truth. The two are seldom related.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes that President Trump continues to cite approval numbers that have no basis in reality:

A poll conducted last week by YouGov for the Economist finds something fairly unremarkable: President Trump’s job approval rating stands at 43 percent. Since he took office, that’s generally the higher end of where his approval has been, all of the movement having taken place in a narrow range.

The reason isn’t complex. Republicans love Trump and Democrats hate him, with independents on the Democratic side of the middle. In that YouGov poll, for example, Democrats give Trump an 11 percent approval, compared with 37 percent from independents and 87 percent from Republicans. Without partisans embracing or abandoning him, things don’t move a lot, which is why we call that YouGov poll result unremarkable.

There have been numerous other polls in recent weeks saying the same thing. Trump’s approval ranges from 38 percent to 44 percent; his approval among Republicans from 84 percent to 88 percent. Each of these polls looks essentially the same.

And yet here was what Trump had to offer on Monday morning.

For months, Trump had been touting a 93 percent approval rating from Republicans. The first iteration of that figure that we found came from a straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which is a bit like foxes claiming to be overwhelmingly popular after surveying people at a furry convention. It’s like asking about support for the Second Amendment at a gun show.

In June, though, Trump tacked on a percentage point. He first claimed to have 94 percent support from Republicans during a news conference with then-British Prime Minister Theresa May. Our fact-checkers looked into it, determining that there was no public poll showing anything of the sort. If it was an internal campaign poll, it hasn’t been made public (our fact-checkers asked). Since then, though, 94 percent has supplanted 93 percent in Trump’s rhetoric, with his touting this purported number over and over and over again.

We’ve noted in the past that Trump likes to tout the same poll numbers repeatedly. There have been more than two dozen occasions on which Trump has touted an overall approval rating of 50 percent or higher, but those are usually at least tied to existing polls. (As a general rule, those polls are from Rasmussen Reports, a pollster that tracks approval among likely voters, not all Americans, and that has consistently given Trump higher approval numbers than nearly any poll.) It’s interesting that Trump continues to tweet things like “Working hard, thank you!” as he promotes a poll number that, even according to his presentation, is the same as it has been for months.

That’s not what’s happening here. Instead, Trump appears to simply be making the figure up. Perhaps there is internal polling showing Trump with substantially higher approval than public polls, a function of who they’re asking and how they’re asking it. But Trump doesn’t even say that; he just throws out this number as though it’s real.

Trump recorded an approval rating over 92 percent among Republicans in an established poll precisely once during his first two years in office: a Suffolk University-USA Today poll from October 2018 in which he was at 94 percent. If he’s referring to that poll, though, it’s deceptive, given the challenges of relying on one poll — much less one that’s nearly a year out of date. It would also be hypocritical, given that this is a president who excoriates pollsters for showing Hillary Clinton with a substantial lead in late October 2016, ignoring that those pollsters then showed a closer race as Election Day approached.

But, again, there’s no reason to think that Trump’s poll number is actually rooted in anything real. In this particular case we say that because of the dearth of any evidence. In the abstract it’s a fair assumption because of Trump’s general disinterest in accuracy.

 

Trump’s insistence on continuing to cite this 94 percent number, which some have also suggested comes from an online poll conducted by the Republican National Committee earlier this year, is quite odd when you give it even a moment’s thought. As Bump notes, current polling indicates that his job approval among Republicans is generally found to be somewhere between 85% and 88% depending on which poll you look at and this number has been consistent roughly since the beginning of his Presidency. In part, of course, this is due to the fact that many people who once identified themselves as Republican in the past have come to reject the label as we’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the Trump Presidency. This means that when we’re talking about self-identified “Republicans” in these polls we are largely talking about people who support the President completely and without question notwithstanding (or in some cases because of) his policy failures, divisive rhetoric, and controversial statements.

So what explains the President’s insistence on citing a number — 94% support among Republicans — that has no basis in reality? After all, 85% to 88% job approval among one’s party members is pretty darn good, and it is the main reason that his overall job approval remains where it is rather than slipping even further into historic lows. I’ll leave that one for the readers to debate in the comments.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    Clearly 6% of Republicans are RINOs. Or 16%, depending on whether you use a fantasy poll or a real poll.

    Maybe they are illegal immigrants claiming to be Republicans.

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  2. Scott F. says:

    So what explains the President’s insistence on citing a number — 94% support among Republicans — that has no basis in reality? After all, 85% to 88% job approval among one’s party members is pretty darn good, and it is the main reason that his overall job approval remains where it is rather than slipping even further into historic lows. I’ll leave that one for the readers to debate in the comments.

    I hate how paranoid this sounds, but the Occam’s Razor principle says he’s laying the groundwork for contesting the results of the 2020 election.

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  3. CSK says:

    Why does Trump lie about this (and everything else)? Because he always has to be the biggest and the best. Remember when he claimed to have the biggest electoral college victory? The biggest inaugural audience? He’s a desperately insecure little man.

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I’m not so worried about polling issues, and a lot more worried about lies that impact the health and safety of human beings.
    The entire Hurricane Dorian/Alabama fiasco should be grounds for impeachment on it’s own.
    Now we are learning that we had to extricate a spy, that had been inside the Kremlin, because the IC was worried Trump would alert Putin to him/her?
    And the Air Force is propping up a failing Trump property?
    Grifters are gonna grift. And lying is part and parcel of the grift.

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  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Trump has also surrounded himself with toadies that enable his own unique view of reality.
    The Commerce Secretary threatened to fire NOAA Scientists who contradicted Trumps lie about Dorian/Alabama.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/climate/hurrican-dorian-trump-tweet.html

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  6. SenyorDave says:

    I think that Trump really doesn’t distinguish between truth and fiction. From all accounts Trump is a good golfer. From other accounts it seems that he also cheats constantly at golf. His entire life seems to be one lie after another. Some politicians are bullshitters, but Trump is a sleazy liar. And ne constant with Trump is that he has to win and whoever he is opposing has to lose. That is why when Trump cheats at golf, he will improve his lie, not count a stroke if nobody notices, but he will also step on his opponent’s ball. Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated sportswriter wrote a boo about Trump cheating at golf, and here was one of his anecdotes:

    Reilly cites one example from ESPN’s American football announcer Mike Tirico. Tirico pinged a 230-yard 3 wood at the green, and caught it sweetly. He knew he’d hit the green, but because it was elevated he couldn’t see exactly where it landed.

    When Tirico got to the green, though, his ball had somehow landed 50 feet away in a bunker. It was a bit of a riddle until after the round finished.

    “Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5? It was about 10ft from the hole,” Tirico explains. “Trump threw it in the bunker. I watched him do it.'”

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  7. Scott F. says:

    So what explains the President’s insistence on citing a number — 94% support among Republicans — that has no basis in reality? After all, 85% to 88% job approval among one’s party members is pretty darn good, and it is the main reason that his overall job approval remains where it is rather than slipping even further into historic lows. I’ll leave that one for the readers to debate in the comments.

    I hate how paranoid this sounds, but Occam’s Razor says he’s laying the groundwork for contesting the results of the 2020 election.

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  8. Jen says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’d just read that article a few minutes ago.

    I don’t know WHY I keep being surprised at the awful stuff this administration is capable of, but once again, I am. It is utterly disgusting that Secretary Ross threatened people like that.

    It is appalling and horrifying. They are threatening people’s JOBS, demanding that they LIE about a LIFE-THREATENING weather event. That he’s lying and saying that they were in harm’s way when they were not doesn’t matter to me at all–frankly, it is just as bad to frighten people who aren’t at risk.

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  9. CSK says:

    Very OT, but Todd Palin is divorcing Sarah Palin.

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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:
    You betcha!!!!

    ReplyReply
  11. KM says:

    @Jen:
    It would end up being one hell of a lawsuit, though. If I got fired because of some nonsense like that, you better believe I’d chase that damn thing all the way to the SC.

    ReplyReply
  12. CSK says:

    @Jen: @KM: According to the Trumpkins at Lucianne.com, the NWS director who praised the Birmingham office is “no doubt an Obama plant to push the global warming fraud.”

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  13. DrDaveT says:

    Trump’s approval ranges from 38 percent to 44 percent; his approval among Republicans from 84 percent to 88 percent.

    Again, let’s be clear — as loathsome as Trump is, the threat to America is not Donald Trump. The threat to America is the 80+% of Republicans who either actually approve of Donald Trump or are willing to lie and say they do, and keep him in office as long as possible, in order to [choose however many apply] pwn the libtards, keep the Mexicans out, put the blacks back where they belong, make Evangelical Christianity the state religion, cut taxes on the wealthy, make abortion illegal, Make Russia Great Again, bring back sexual harassment, and stack the Supreme Court to protect these changes for at least another generation.

    Trump is a damaged, diseased, disgusting, pathetic individual — but I have much more contempt for the allegedly ‘normal’ Republicans who approve of him.

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  14. DrDaveT says:

    @KM:

    It would end up being one hell of a lawsuit, though. If I got fired because of some nonsense like that, you better believe I’d chase that damn thing all the way to the SC.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t Ross personally who would be the defendant. It would be the Department of Justice on behalf of the Department of Commerce, and the taxpayers would pay to defend the POS at every level.

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  15. Jay L Gischer says:

    @SenyorDave:

    And [the] constant with Trump is that he has to win and whoever he is opposing has to lose. That is why when Trump cheats at golf

    I’m pretty sure this is basic to his appeal to the core Trumpists. They see him as a fighter who will do anything to win. They are desperate, they think they face an existential threat. Of course, there are plenty of media types who sell that existential threat to them day in and day out.

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  16. Jen says:

    @CSK: I don’t know how you even read that stuff, I get depressed enough just reading the news, I don’t need to read the Lucianne Loonies and further upset myself.

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  17. Teve says:

    @Jen: reading trumpers / climate deniers / creationists / QAnon idiots is like eating pickles–if you consume a few a month it’s an enjoyable novelty. if you consume them all day you’ll get high blood pressure and an upset stomach.

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  18. CSK says:

    @Jen: It has the horrid fascination of a train wreck for me. I check it once a day just to see what the little semi-literate dears are “thinking.”

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  19. CSK says:

    And, in another illustration of what a petty little fellow Trump is, he refused to invite the mayor of Dayton to a WH reception for the Dayton first responders.

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  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    I’ve been in a weird place lately where I find myself wondering how someone who gets so much practice lying can be so bad at it.

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  21. Teve says:

    @mmpadellan
    ·
    4h
    The last 2 weeks in trumplandia:

    -Mike Pence & Air Force at trump properties
    -Twitter beef with Chrissy Teigen
    -Inviting the Taliban to America
    -Nuking Hurricanes
    -Buying Greenland
    -“The Chosen One”
    -SharpieGate
    -Bed Bugs

    IN. JUST. 2. WEEKS.
    This isn’t winning.
    It’s insanity.

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  22. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I actually know the answer to this. Raw repetition doesn’t improve skills at all, even though if often convinces people that they have improved.

    What is required for skill improvement is evaluative feedback. Each time you perform the skill, you must somehow be presented with a score of how well you did. This, as far as I can tell, is completely lacking in the Trump universe. Because he’s so rich and powerful to begin with, he could shut down and close out anyone who said, “You didn’t do that right”. Because he didn’t want to hear that message. That’s in spite of the critical role that statement plays in skill improvement. This applies to all skills, not just lying.

    What happens with Trump these days is that he spouts some nonsense, and some people cheer, some people nod, and others just keep their thoughts to themselves. Nobody dares to say, “that’s the dumbest lie I’ve ever heard!”.

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  23. An Interested Party says:

    I hate how paranoid this sounds, but the Occam’s Razor principle says he’s laying the groundwork for contesting the results of the 2020 election.

    Hopefully the Democrat running against him next year will far more wily than Al Gore wasn’t in 2000…

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  24. gVOR08 says:

    @An Interested Party: I don’t know about wilier, I hope she’s meaner.

    ReplyReply
  25. Raoul says:

    On Rasmussen, they missed the last Virginia governor’s race by 9% and the 2018 midterms also by about 9%. Basically they are a propaganda poll. The type of questions and how they are asked show bias. Also, they use several tricks during the presidential race to give the GOP an advantage. They use a tight likely voter model when historically Dems tend to be more aloof (less committed) during the presidential election which is why their polls tighten considerably as the election approaches (when Dems commit). 538 gives the poll a C+ which is currently the lowest rating.

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  26. Blue Galangal says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: And don’t forget that he subsequently met with Putin privately and afterwards confiscated the intepreter’s notes. It’s been mentioned before but this action now has a slightly more ominous cast to it.

    And I hope that interpreter gets subpoenaed.

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