Donald Trump doesn't like the answers, so the president is trying to change the question
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
When it comes to understanding the political realities, we often turn to political fictions to decipher what goes on in the corridors of power. Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry with our elected representatives - and the best antidote may be to laugh at them. TV comedians and writers have delivered a knack for it. British sitcom Yes, Minister - and its follow-up Yes, Prime Minister - offered a viewers a unique insight into the mechanisms of Whitehall and Parliament. The 1980s programme still offers razor-sharp satire even today with the verbosity of Sir Humphrey Appleton both entertaining and informing, for events home and abroad.
In the 1986 episode, The Ministerial Broadcast, the senior civil servant explains how opinion polls can be manipulated through leading questions. When an opinion poll reveals that voters are in favour of bringing back national service, Sir Humphrey suggests to Bernard Woolley that they could have another commissioned to produce the opposite answer through clever wording.
With the vast majority of opinion polls looking unfavourable for Donald Trump, the president has attempted to use this technique in an inaugural year poll. However, Trump's effort was hardly subtle - and he has been easily caught out.
The Trump Make America Great Again committee, the fundraising team behind his re-election campaign, and the Republican National Committee have released a three-question poll that offers respondents no option to give a negative assessment of the president's first year in office. The first question asks people to rate Trump's first year in office, with the options "Great", "Good", "Okay" or "Other. The second then asks about Barack Obama's inaugural year, with the added option "Poor". Ironically enough, the third questions asks respondents about if the so-called fake news will "fairly cover" his approval ratings.
The president's obsession with his predecessor continued when he boasted on Twitter that he shares the same approval rating as Obama after his first year in office. Trump cites Rasmussen poll that puts him at 46 per cent, while Obama had an approval rating of 47 per cent at this stage of his presidency. However, the polling group has a reputation for being conservative-leaning with potential sampling biases.
He sits "alone at the bottom of the approval rating barrel", CNN argues, pouring cold water on claims that his approval rating matches Obama. They write: "But the truth, across almost every reputable poll, is that Trump's approval ratings have lagged behind those of nearly all of his predecessors, including Obama, since day one of his presidency."
FiveThirtyEight calculates from all polls, accounting for their quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean, that Trump's approval rating currently sits at around 37.9 per cent - with 56.2 per cent of American disapproving of his performance in office.
To rub salt in the wounds, Trump was beaten by his predecessor once again as Obama was voted the most admired man by Americans. The 44th president topped the Gallop survey for the 10th straight year. Trump's presidential rival Hillary Clinton, who lost out in the electoral colleges despite beating him in the popular vote by nearly three million ballots, was named the most admired woman, with Michelle Obama finishing in second - the First Lady Melania Trump only managed to win one per cent of the vote.
If Donald Trump does not like the answers, he attempts to change the question to suit him more. However, the president has been caught out as he attempts to undermine his predecessor - who, instead, is achieving exactly the opposite of what Trump wants.