Trump Approval Rating Rise: Trend or Blip?

By Neil Levesque | May 9, 2018

President Trump

Is President Trump’s modest improvement in the Saint Anselm Survey Center Poll a blip or a trend?
The most recent spring poll of the Saint Anselm College Survey Center shows New Hampshire voters’ strong disapproval in winter softened from 58% to 41%. Of course, trends are identified over time so we won’t know the answer until we see subsequent polls. However, there is some evidence to suggest that President Trump may be finding some resonance with NH voters.

Trump’s improvement in job approval amounts to 4.6 percentage points; his net disapproval shrunk from 25 to 17 points. This is against a backdrop of decidedly mixed news about Trump that covers everything from implementation of his tax cuts, apparent progress toward a summit with North Korea, payments to adult entertainers, and continued developments in the investigation of alleged Russian election interference. Other questions in our poll show how difficult it can be to untangle the impact of news coverage. For example, NH voters have very different views about the credibility of former FBI directors Robert Mueller and James Comey, so it’s likely that news generated by them has a disparate impact on how voters perceive the President.

Given all that, what may be the key to understanding Trump’s improvement as a “blip” or “trend” is the answer to this question: “Where is Trump’s new support coming from?” The answer is “pretty much everywhere,” with the caveat that the effect of statistical anomalies can increase as one examines smaller subgroups. Comparing our April and February polls, Trump has picked up support across the board: among NH Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Among males and females. Across most age cohorts and educational levels. Across both of the state’s Congressional districts. With conservatives and moderates.

By contrast, Trump’s job approval deteriorated only slightly among NH voters aged 55-64, and those identifying as “somewhat conservative” or “liberal.”

The President’s biggest drop was among NH voters who reported an educational level of high school or less (from 57% to 46%). One of Trump’s biggest gains was among voters who answered “Other” to the question of party preference in the fall Congressional elections. This may suggest Trump is gaining support from voters disenchanted with both parties.

Supportive groups such as Republican NH voters seem to be firming their endorsement for the job Trump is doing, while opposing groups are perhaps softening a bit. The less ideological, e.g., independents, are possibly drifting toward Trump. To be sure, these add up to narrow gains but appear to indicate a broad shift.

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