Media outlets have recently seized upon a growing post-election trend: the rising favorability of president-elect Donald Trump. And it’s not a matter of cherry-picking a poll or two to make this point. In polls since the November election measuring the favorability rating of the incoming president, Trump has been increasingly more warmly received by the American public. Here’s how the favorability rating trend line for Trump looks like:
Given his standing as the least liked presidential candidate in recorded history going by these same ratings from during the campaign, this trend is notable–although not altogether surprising. It’s worth bearing in mind candidates coming off an election victory often get positive favorability bounces. For example, after the 2008 election, newly elected Barack Obama began to get even more well-liked by the public relative to the pre-election run-up:
That post-election favorability bump for Obama can be discerned right before the “Feb. 1 2009” part of the graph, where his favorable numbers (black line) rise and unfavorable ones (red line) drop. Some of that positive swing toward Obama began before the election, but most of it occurred after: in a little under two months’ time, Obama went from a +31.5 net favorability rating to a +46.9 rating. Though it’s only one example, the case of Obama’s post-election image goes to show that the American public very often warms up to a newly elected president.
That pattern seems to be a strong one too, as it even seems to be occurring now for the most disliked presidential candidate in history in Trump. What’s received less focus, however, is the drivers behind this tide of greater favorability for the newly elected president–which demographic and political subgroups, if any, have most spurred this change? Below are a few tables containing data for some of these key subgroups that try to answer this question.
The data comes from two Politico/Morning Consult polls conducted before (11/4-11/5) and after (12/1-12/2) the election to get a clear sense in the changes in favorability toward Trump. The columns titled “Before” and “After” contain the net favorability ratings recorded in the pre- and post-election polls, respectively. Net favorability was calculated according to the following equation:
- (“Very favorable”% + “Somewhat favorable”%) – (“Somewhat unfavorable”% + “Very unfavorable”%)
The “Net Change” column represents the favorability swing for Trump, subtracting “Before” from “After.” To make this change value for each subgroup easier to understand, I created a “Relative change” column that accounts for the +24 point overall favorability swing among all voters (i.e., I subtract +24 from “Net change”). “Relative change” thus represents a more meaningful favorability swing that is relative to the +24 baseline.
The above and below charts document these relative net favorability swings (“Relative change”) for Trump among different subgroups. In terms of gender, men (+4) have become more favorable to Trump after the election than women have (-3). In terms of age groups, older people–such as in the 45-54 and 65+ brackets–have warmed up to Trump more than younger people have. The -9 net swing relative to the baseline among those ages 55-64 is a surprising outlier given Trump usually receives a more positive reception among older age groups. Perhaps he didn’t have that much more room to grow in this age bracket, or this could represent a more anomalous result.
Parsing through changes among partisan groups is a little difficult because it overestimates people identifying as Independents as a result of Morning Consult not grouping Democrat-learning and Republican-leaning Independents in their respective party groups. However, Democrats clearly lag behind the overall shift in terms of not warming up to Trump as much as all voters have. As for political ideology groups, conservatives moved a relative seven points more favorable toward Trump after the election, the most positive movement of any of the ideological subgroups.
Examining favorability swings by education returns an interesting result: people with post-graduate education became a relative nine points more favorable to Trump when comparing these pre- and post-election polls. That same positive movement toward Trump in a high-SES subgroup gets mirrored for income subgroups: the most positive movement toward Trump occurs among those with incomes over $100,000, who became a relative 15 points more favorable toward Trump. Though because lower SES status is so correlated with non-white race identification, it’s hard to glean something really meaningful from these education/income net swings without have the same breakdown for race by education (e.g., for non-college whites, $100k+ whites, etc.).
Finally, examining relative net favorability swings by race comes up with a weird result. The meaningful part here is that Hispanics have warmed a lot less up to Trump relative to overall changes (a relative net 12 points fewer). Below-average movement toward Trump among all three major racial groups (as represented by negative values) seems unlikely however (the positive swing has to come from somewhere). So too does the +29 value among those of an “Other race.” The asterisk there also indicates a small subgroup sample size for “Other race,” which could be producing this excessively large swing. In other words, net relative swings described for racial groups might be less meaningful than for other subgroups, thought the one for Hispanics remains notable.