Chart of the Day: Donald Trump Has Lost a Lot of Support Among Republicans

Here’s a little more about my relative optimism over how America is doing in the Trump era. This chart, which doesn’t get nearly enough attention, shows the change in first-year presidential approval ratings from copartisans. That is, it shows Democratic approval of Democrats and Republican approval of Republicans:

After an admittedly wild first year in which he disappointed liberals with his budget, gays in the military, and a missile attack on Iraq, Bill Clinton ended 1993 exactly where he started. George Bush got a huge bump across the board after 9/11, but even if you look at his approval rating through 9/10, he only lost about one percent of his support. In 2009, during a brutal recession, Obama lost three percent of his support by the end of the year.

Donald Trump has lost eight percent of his support among Republicans. During a strong economy.

I know these seem like small numbers, but they’re meaningful. It’s natural that presidents lose support among independents and members of the opposing party. Many of them want to “give the new president a chance,” and then slip away as politics takes its natural course. But polarization being what it is, recent presidents just don’t lose much support among their own party. Only in Trump’s case has there been any significant erosion.

Losing the support of people who probably didn’t vote for you in the first place doesn’t mean too much. But losing the support of people who did vote for you means electoral disaster. It’s also good news: Americans aren’t reacting to the norm-busting buffoonery of the Trump presidency with indifference. Not only is the opposition movement enormously energized, but even Republicans are losing faith in him.

The 9/11 attacks rescued George Bush. Something similar could still happen with Trump, so this is hardly a call to breathe a sigh of relief. The fight is everything. But keep in mind that the fight is working. This is why I think, in the end, Trump will end up being a weird outlier in American history, not a harbinger of things to come.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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