World view – Thursday

Wednesday GMT


For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

Trump approval poll from RCP to 19 June:

This closed up significantly after the Singapore meeting between Trump and Kim. It could easily spread again if the raging over the caging of kids on the US Mexico border continues.

Trump improved in polls, a bit

Donald Trump’s approval ratings have been better for most of the last two months (February, March) than they have been over the last twelve months, but they are still negative:

It’s difficult to know why there has been an improvement this year – it will be a combination of factors. Getting tough on trade may be having an effect, and recent recovery may have been influenced by Trump joining the international condemnation of Russia. There is no obvious sign of the Stormy Daniels affair affecting support.

RCP Poll Average trends:

Interestingly the latest poll result is from Rasmussen which has Trump on -8% overall approval (45-53). In late February they had his approval slightly ahead of disapproval (50-48) but his approval has slipped gradually since then.

Despite the improvement Trump is still well below the approval of Obama and GW Bush at the same time into their eight year terms, as shown by FiveThirtyEight:
It’s difficult to predict how things will go from here.

The tax cuts will have pleased many. Time will tell how they work out – Trump has just agreed to a huge spending bill and the US is significantly increasing deficits and debt levels, and that will impact over time.

Much may depend on Trump’s trade ‘wars’ and the economy – the US sharemarket had improved significantly right through last year but ironically dropped steeply at about the same time Trump’s approval ratings improved at the start of February.

Jobs were a big deal in the 2016 election campaign. Success or failure there can only be judged over time.

Trump seems to have had some success in his confrontation with North Korea, and has agreed to meet with Kim Yong Un, but that has not been organised yet – the north Korean leader has just visited China and has said he will denuclearize.

The Middle East could go any way – if Trump can move the region towards peace he will win a lot of credit, but Syria and Afghanistan are still looking very dicey.

Trump’s White House administration has always struggled to get staff and has turned over a lot of high level staff – this could reflect the rush to fill positions when unexpectedly winning the presidency, with a gradual sorting out of who fits his leadership style and policy preferences – or it could be rats jumping ship. Trump’s manner or firing and humiliating people who fall out of favour may discourage potential replacements.

And the Russian election interference issue is still simmering away without a clear idea whether that will damage Trump or his family, but he must have concerns given his attacks on the inquiry and the FBI. This could all fizzle out at the Trump level, or it could blow up big time. The jury is still out on that, with a lot of the investigation details still under wraps.

Trump’s stable approval rating

Since mid May Donald Trump’s approval rating has remained fairly stable around 40%. (His disapproval rating has also been fairly flat between 54-56%).


His presidency seems to have been far from stable punctuated by significant events and actions, so why is his approval not changing much?

Analysis at RCP:  Five Theories on Trump’s Stable Approval Rating

So why are these numbers so stable when events are anything but? The world of political data has been busy debating this topic, so rather than simply lay out one view and argue for it, I’m going to describe five different views that have popped up.

Theory 1: The GOP Base and Strong Democrats Are Immovable Objects

The situation is simple: Trump has a high approval rating among the GOP base and low approval ratings among the Democratic base, and unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, neither group will change their mind.

In other words, Trump’s 40 percent approval rating might represent something close to his floor. On Election Day 2016, 37.5 percent of voters viewed candidate Trump favorably, yet he won 46 percent of the vote.

Since then, Trump may have lost some of those general election voters by pushing an unpopular health-care bill (or through some other actions they disapproved of), but this 40 percent approval rating represents party stalwarts sticking with him.

Trump’s brash manner, his habit of repeating falsities, his obsession with tweeting, and his ego were all well known when he became president.  He hasn’t changed apart from his expectation that he be adored and obeyed so there may be no strong reason for his core support to be disappointed.

Theory 2: Nothing “New” Is Happening

This might seem like a strange argument. News junkies remember James Comey’s testimony before Congress, Donald Trump Jr.’s emails, the ups and downs of the Senate’s efforts to repeal Obamacare and the whole host of related breaking news stories over the past few months.

But it appears that this information isn’t moving voter preference much.

If this theory is correct, we should expect Trump’s approval rating to change only if truly new events or information are introduced to the electorate. If the economy suddenly boomed or tanked, if Trump decided to push a popular infrastructure bill instead of a relatively unpopular health care bill, if the situation in North Korea escalated and Trump had to respond to it — basically if the national political conversation changes in a meaningful way — Trump’s support might change.

His approval was also down at 40% in April but rose when he visited the Middle East and Europe, then settled back down after a few weeks. Nothing much of importance for the country happening.

Theory 3: It’s the Domestic Policy, Stupid

It’s also possible that Americans don’t really care about Russia and that Trump’s approval rating is simply a result of the public’s mixed opinion on his domestic record.

The RealClearPolitics average shows that Trump has a 44.7 percent approval rating on economic issues, which isn’t so far off the 46 percent he won in the 2016 popular vote. Yet Americans are currently focused on health care. A July Bloomberg poll showed that 35 percentof respondents (a plurality) said that health care was the most important issue facing the country. And although it’s tough to compare polling results that differ the wording of the question, most polls show that the current GOP bill is unpopular.

This adds up to a dynamic where a decent economy is trying to pull up Trump’s job approval numbers, but his policy focus is pulling those numbers down.

That being said, Theory 3 does paint a very different portrait of voters and their concerns than Theory 2 does. Under this version, news about Russia doesn’t matter too much.

But it seems to matter a lot to Trump, he has helped keep it in the spotlight. He seems easily distracted from the things that matter most, or should matter most.

Theory 4: This Is the New Normal

It’s possible that there isn’t much to explain about Trump’s 40 percent approval rating. Someone could argue that this low, stable rating is almost unavoidable in our current political moment.

To see how this argument would work, imagine that Hillary Clinton had swung enough voters away from Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to become president. She would have come into the office with a low favorability rating and likely wouldn’t have had much of a honeymoon period. She might accomplish some of her goals via executive action, but it would to be hard to get her policy priorities through a Republican-held Congress. Others have examined this possibility more thoroughly, but the point is that in some alternate universe there are other presidents who would also have a low approval rating.

It’s quite likely Hillary Clinton as president would have had consistently poor approval ratings too.

A President Rubio or a President Biden might take some similar actions to Trump or Clinton, respectively, yet have better approval ratings due to sheer likability.

A President Biden or Sanders would have had to battle against Republican majorities in the Senate and in Congress.

Would a President Jeb Bush have been more popular than Trump? We can only wonder.

Theory 5: We Don’t Know What’s Going On

This might sound like a cop-out, but it’s important to acknowledge the possibility that none of our other theories is right.

So it’s possible that we simply don’t yet know why Trump’s approval is low and consistent.

The reality is that it is likely to be some combination of all of these things and there are probably other reasons too.

Leadership approval requires tangible signs of leadership, and Trump hasn’t really done much of that yet.

He has had trouble leading his White House, and he has had difficulty getting the Senate and Congress to follow his lead, or do what he demands.

A solid core remain dedicated and hopeful he will achieve big things, and seem prepared to wait for him to figure out what leading a country actually means and involves.

Trump approval comparisons

There were discussions yesterday about Donald Trump’s approval ratings.

Since mid-May the RCP average has been flattish at 39-40% approval, 54-56% disapproval.

The FiveThirtyEight average is not surprisingly similar:


So Trump has never averaged more than 50% approval, and has been over 50% disapproval since not long after he took over the presidency.

His average has generally trended downwards but seems to have flattened out.

It is pointless comparing this to New Zealand poll results. I don’t think Prime Minister approval is polled and ‘preferred Prime Minister’ is a different measure.

The most useful comparison is with previous US presidents at a similar time into their term.

Trump’s approval at this stage is slightly higher than one predecessor: Ford – who was hurt by Nixon pardon and a very bad recession.

Gerald Ford’s approval would soon spike – from 39% to 52%; Trump’s ceiling has been 45%, set in Jan. 2017.

President, at his NJ golf club (there since Friday other than brief event n Washington Sat. nite) returns to White House later today.

Trump seems to be obsessed with trying to be seen as popular, but the more he uses Twitter to ‘go direct to the people’ the more he is likely to be disapproved.

I don’t know if this is fake or not but it is good advice:


Also from 2016:  ‘Let Me Be Unpresidential a Little While Longer’

“My wife is always saying — and Ivanka. you’ve heard of her, right? ‘Darling, be more presidential. Daddy, be more presidential.’ I will, but I have to knock off the final two first, right? I can be presidential. If I was presidential, only twenty percent of you would be here because I’ll be boring as hell. Let me be unpresidential just for a little while longer. And maybe I’ll be a little bit unpresidential as I beat Hillary.”

He certainly isn’t boring, and he continues to look more unpresidential as he keeps tweeting and speaking.

More from @WestWingReport:

‘s tweets continue to distract attention from very serious matters – and the media continues to play along (more).

Tweets distract from:

  1. Slowing U.S. economy
  2. Slowing U.S. job growth
  3. Deficit rising faster than expected
  4. No big legislative wins
  5. Criminal probe at WH gate
  6. Global confidence in U.S. has plunged

U.S. job growth for the 12 months ended May 2017 is running at 97% of the same period ended in 2016 (source: Trump’s own Labor Dept).

Clinton still unpopular

One of the reasons Hillary Clinton failed in last year’s presidential election was her relatively high unpopularity. While it doesn’t matter now she is political history, she is just as unpopular (her excuses for losing won’t have helped).

People tend to not like losers, especially sore losers.

The Democrats aren’t doing much better.

Fox News:  Is the Democrats’ brand ‘worse than Trump’? Some party officials admit it is

Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, made some candid comments that caught my eye yesterday.

“The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Bingo. Running mainly against Donald Trump didn’t work for the Dems in 2016, and it’s not working now.

Ohio Democratic congressman Tim Ryan told the New York Times that his party is “toxic” in large swaths of the country: “Our brand is worse than Trump. We can’t just run against Trump.”

They are diverting from their own substantial problems by trying to blame everything on Trump.

One of the stupid things about this approach is that they don’t need to show how bad Trump can be, he keeps doing that himself. His stupidity over the Comey non-tapes is evidence of that – seeTrump “did not make…any such recordings”.

Trump’s unpopularity is similar to Clinton’s. From FiveThirtyEight:


That is historically low approval for a president in their first six months in office. Trump has managed to get there through his own efforts, he doesn’t need the Democrats to discredit him.

That both Clinton and Trump are so disliked is an indictment on the state of US politics.


Trump approval largely unmoved

Donald Trump claimed that his trip to the Middle East and Europe, which included a G7 meeting in Italy, was very successful, but it highlighted a divide that seems to be growing between the US and Europe.

Last week Trump also announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. This was a largely symbolic move but it was widely criticised.

Both the overseas trip and the climate change withdrawal indicated that the US under Trump’s leadership was focussing more on it’s own interests and less on world leadership.

However Trump’s poll approval ratings are so far largely unmoved. Rasmussen, which tends to favour Trump more than others has shifted for him a little, but is still on 54% disapproval to 46% approval.

The RCP average has more or less flat lined since dropping in mid May at around 40% approval to 54% disapproval.


His approval ratings improved a little when Trump launched a missile attack in Syria and talked and acted tough militarily in the US spat with North Korea but he has lost those gains over the last month.

Trump continues to try to communicate to supporters via Twitter but that seems to have little impact on how people judge his performance.



Trump praises his first 100 days

In typical fashion Donald Trump praised his first 100 days as president.

President Trump: In my first 100 days, I kept my promise to Americans

One hundred days ago, I took the oath of office and made a pledge: We are not merely going to transfer political power from one party to another, but instead are going to transfer that power from Washington, D.C., and give it back to the people.

In the past 100 days, I have kept that promise — and more.

Issue by issue, department by department, we are giving the people their country back. After decades of a shrinking middle class, open borders and the mass offshoring of American jobs and wealth, this government is working for the citizens of our country and no one else.

The same establishment media that concealed these problems — and profited from them — is obviously not going to tell this story. That is why we are taking our message directly to America.

He details all the things he has achieved and concludes:

The White House is once again the People’s House. And I will do everything in my power to be the People’s President — to faithfully, loyally and proudly champion the incredible citizens who love this nation and who call this God-blessed land their home.

But he has also complained about how hard it is to get things done

And not everyone sees his successes ahead of his difficulties.


One thing Trump seems to desperately succeed at is popularity, and he has a way to go there, and this sort of thing will grate:

He continues to blame the media:

At PA Rally, Trump Says Media Deserves “Big, Fat Failing Grade”

“I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you and with a much larger crowd and much better people,” he added.

Trump touted his record while slamming reporters as “incompetent, dishonest people.” He said the press should also be judged for its performance in the past 100 days.

“If the media’s job is to be honest and tell the truth, then I think we would all agree the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade,” he said.

But a majority of Americans still seem to be unimpressed.

RCP Average President Trump Job Approval:


That is likely to be the pollsters fault of course.

The missile/bomb bounce has largely levelled off at a significant deficit. Trump has a lot to prove yet, to a lot of people.

Poll: Trump would beat Clinton again

Different poll slants from the US, none of which mean much.

12h12 hours ago

New News/WaPo poll: 56% say Trump has accomplished either not much or nothing in his first 100 days in office

Washington Examiner saw something different of interest: Wash Post poll hides: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40%

A new Washington Post poll that declares President Trump as “the least popular president in modern times,” waits until the second to last paragraph to reveal another tidbit: He’d still beat Hillary Rodham Clinton if the election were held today and in the popular vote, not just Electoral College.

It probably wasn’t prominent because it isn’t very important.


Clinton is failed political history so it’s not surprising to see her support waning. It’s more notable that Trump’s support is staying low even though he is now president and getting a lot of attention.

Also unchanged: His base still likes him.

That’s not surprising, he had strong support from his base and hasn’t done much that would lose that support. He hasn’t done much to gain support from people who doubted his abilities either.

The poll found that Trump’s polls continue to be upside down, with a 42 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval.

That’s similar to most other polls. Trump’s approval was diving until his missile strike in Syria and big bomb drop in Afghanistan, after which it recovered a little but that doesn’t seem to have been sustained.


Trump still has a lot to prove – that he can get things done as promised, and that he won’t stuff up the world and provoke Armageddon.

Support may drop off if he keeps failing to deliver on his tough talk and campaign promises, like this winding back the rhetoric.

US general discussion

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag

Trumps poll approval improved a bit after his missile strike on Syria but now could be  levelling off .


So the military intervention seems to have stopped a poll slide, for now, but there is still a significant approval deficit.

Ministry of Health approves medicinal cannabis treatment

The parents of 7 year old girl Zoe Jeffries have obtained Ministry of Health approval fore 6 months use of Sativex. This is one of a total of 97 ministerial approvals for the cannabis derived medicine. It shows that it is possible now to get medicinal cannabis, although it isn’t easy.

And it isn’t cheap – Zoe’s parents are fund raising to try and cover the costs. See the bottom of this post for details.

It’s also far from easy caring for a girl with uncontrolled epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, microcephaly, cerebral visual impairment, is tube fed and who has had severe seizures since birth.

It shouldn’t be this difficult getting medicines that may help.

NZ Herald reports Ministry approves cannabis treatment for 7-year-old girl:

The parents of a 7-year-old girl have the green light to use medicinal cannabis to control their daughter’s severe seizures.

Karen and Adam Jeffries have Health Ministry approval to give their daughter Zoe the cannabis oil-based mouth spray Sativex for the next six months.

“It has been a long time coming, it’s great news,” mum Karen Jeffries told the Herald on Sunday.

The Jeffries began researching medical cannabis in 2013 in the hope of finding a drug to reduce the hundreds of seizures their daughter suffers each day.

Two years is a long time to obtain a medicine that may help. And there is only one cannabis based medicine currently available in New Zealand. It may or may not be the most appropriate to try.

The Rotorua girl is understood to be one of the youngest in New Zealand to receive the medicine. Another child, a 5-year-old, has been approved use.

“We have been on it for a couple of weeks so it is early days but she is a lot more settled already.”

“You want to try to control the seizures that cause additional brain damage, but also you want to allow your child a life, to be awake and not drowsy, or have the strength to stand or just hold their head up high,” her father Adam said.

The medicine hadn’t dramatically changed the number of seizures Zoe suffers but this week, teachers at Glenholme School in Rotorua said she returned to school happier.

“When she started school this week they saw a completely different child,” Karen Jeffries said. “She was a lot more settled and was able to cope with noise and was a lot less distressed.”

It’s a lot to hope for a miracle cure for such serious medical problems, but parents should be able to hope for some improvement in their child’s condition. It’s good to see that that may be being achieved.

But it is expensive for the Jeffries.

Sativex is the only approved cannabis-based medicine registered with Pharmac but is not funded. It can be prescribed by a doctor but each case needs Health Ministry approval. To date, there have been 97 ministerial approvals, and there are currently 27 users of Sativex.

Each bottle lasts around four weeks and costs $1050. The Jeffries paid for the first script with a well-timed tax return and have set up a Givealittle page to help fund repeat scripts.

Givealittle ‘Meds for Zoe’: Please help Zoe continue with the chance at a better quality of life…

For information on medicinal cannabis in New Zealand: United in Compassion

United In Compassion NZ is a non profit lobby for the re-introduction of Medicinal Cannabis and a community for patients and carers. We are on a journey to access medicinal cannabis through Education, Compassion and Logic.