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Opinion
Jonathan Bernstein

Trump’s Recovery in the Polls Isn’t Much to Celebrate

His approval ratings have bounced back from the trough of the shutdown, but they’re still among the lowest of any postwar president.

Making a comeback.

Making a comeback.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have just about recovered all of the ground lost during the partial government shutdown. He’s back up to 42.5 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average estimate, the best number he’s had since the beginning of the shutdown. His disapproval rating is 53.2 percent, an improvement, but still still higher than when it started climbing in mid-December, around the time he threatened to close the government and accept the blame. At the low point during the shutdown, Trump’s approval rating was 39.3 percent and disapproval was 56 percent.

Even if he’s doing better, he’s still in pretty bad shape: Compared with all the presidencies of the polling era (starting with Harry Truman), Trump’s approval level through 762 days in office beats only Ronald Reagan’s and Jimmy Carter’s at this point in their tenure. Reagan’s big rally was about to start as a recession was ending.