Over the past few weeks we’ve heard political pundits on all major news networks chime in on how Trump is doing one year after taking office. Part of the discussion is around what he has and hasn’t done, but an even bigger part continues to be about how he is perceived, both domestically and abroad, and some very grim opinion/approval polling is available. Many polls have Trump as the President with the lowest approval ratings in history.
Sadly, Political Polling, including approval ratings, tells us absolutely nothing about the underlying causes for the ratings. Therefore, I thought I’d share our findings in this area. Utilizing our text analytics software, OdinText, we have been tracking not just sentiment related to Trump, but more importantly, the positioning of 40+ topics/themes that are important predictors of the sentiment.. In the brief analysis below, I will not have time to go into each of the attributes we have identified as important drivers, I will focus on a few of the areas which have seen the most change for Trump during the past year.
By looking at Trump’s positioning just before he took office (with all the campaign positioning fresh in the minds of the people), and comparing it to half a year into his office, and again now a full year into office, we can get a good idea about the impact various issues have on approval ratings and even more importantly, positioning.
Let’s start by looking back to just before he was elected. OdinText’s Ai uncovered the 15 most significant changes in perception since just beforeTrump won the election and now. Trump has fallen on 11 of these attributes and increased on 4.
If we compare Trump just before the election VS Trump today, we several key differences. More recently four themes have become more important in terms of describing what Trump stands for in the minds of Americans when we include everyone (both those who like and dislike him). These newer positions are “Less Regulation”, “Healthcare Reform”, “Money/Greed”, and “Dishonesty”. Interestingly, text analytics reveals that one of the important issues seems to be changing, Trumps supporters are now more likely to be use the term “Healthcare Reform” rather than the previous “Repeal Obamacare”.
Other than the repeal of Obamacare issue, prior to the election, in the minds of Americans Trump was more likely to be associated with “Gun Rights”, “Honesty”, “Trade Deals”, “Change”, Supporting “Pro Life”, pro and con “Immigration” related issues including “The Wall”, and finally his slogan “MAGA” (Make America Great Again).
The decrease in relevance of many of these issues has to do with pre-election positioning, both by the Trump/Republican Party, as well as the Democrats Counter Positioning of him. After the election seemingly, some of these like ‘Gun Control’ have become less important for various reasons.
If we look at changes between this past Summer and now, there has been significantly less movement in terms of his positioning in American minds. He has seen a slight but significant bump in overall positive emotional sentiment/Joy, and the MAGA positioning as well as on Taxes, the economy, and The Wall, while also seeing a decrease in “Anger” and “Hate/Racism” which peaked this summer.
His lowest point so far in the minds of Americans was during the August 12th, 2017 White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville. Trump’s positioning as a Hate Monger was almost as high as the weekend before the election, while simultaneously positive emotional sentiment and ‘MAGA’ among his supporters was at an all time low.
Since the August low Trump does appear to have rebounded some, and while one year into office many believe the one thing Trump now stands for is himself, greed and money are a lesser evil in America than hate and racism.
It seems that one year into office, at least for now, the economy and tax cuts are giving Trump a bit of a bump back to pre-election levels in the minds of many Americans.
I’m not sure what the future holds in this case, but I hope you like me found some of the underlying reasons for his approval ratings of interest. These are after all more important than simple ratings, because these reasons are levers that can be changed to affect the final outcomes and positioning of any brand, including that of a POTUS.
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