A new poll in Rust Belt states over the weekend had some stark news for President Donald Trump: His job approval was under 40%. Only about a quarter said they were proud of him. Broad majorities said they were embarrassed.
But his favorable ratings? They are basically the same as what they were on Election Day.
The new numbers from a NBC/Marist survey show that the President's favorable numbers look very, very similar to where they were almost 10 months ago when he was elected.
People who obsessively follow today's hourly news cycle -- and journalists tend to be the worst Twitter addicts -- feel like the Trump administration has been an exhausting and never-ending series of controversies. "Surely, America will turn against him now," they think with each new one. "Or at least now....Or at least now...." For people in that situation, the last ten months have been never-ending chaos, and it seems inconceivable that anyone could still be okay with the situation.
But outside that small world, people really just don't notice 95 percent of it, and that might even be too generous. Meanwhile, of those who actually do notice, half of them are rabid Trump fans who are convinced that every mini-controversy is fake anyway. (Just now, I retweeted our story about Trump looking at the solar eclipse with his naked eyes, and was promptly told it was fake news, because hey, there's also a picture of him looking at it with eclipse glasses.)
The same way you and I were insulated from the Pizzagate hoax because we are wise enough to avoid Facebook or at least don't follow or friend crazies, most Americans are insulated from true news, especially if it's trivial and ephemeral but also in some cases if it's serious but complicated.
What will people notice that might actually interest them and change their opinions? Indictments. Flagrant corruption in policymaking. Policy choices or initiatives that personally affect them or even threaten their finances or their way of life. Rising unemployment. Friends and neighbors dying in a war that a president started or continued unwisely.
But a lot of things that the politics-obsessed believe will get people's attention just doesn't meet the cut. I say this after having believed that at least six or seven things Trump did during his campaign were dealbreakers, and before that believing that the 2013 government shutdown would doom the Republican Party to minority status through at least 2020.
In the end, ordinary people just couldn't find the time to care, or they cared more about other things. They might end up caring about what's happened so far and show it when they vote in 2018, but the polls at least don't show the sort of extraordinary loss of trust in Trump that you might expect by now from following the news up to the minute.
There is, however, an entirely separate issue that isn't nearly as good for Trump. It was one thing for voters disgusted by both candidates in 2016 to vote overwhelmingly for Trump over Clinton -- the deciding factor in putting him into the White House. It might be an entirely different story in 2020, because he might draw an opponent with far less baggage. In other words, the same approval ratings that Trump had in November 2016 might well doom him next time around. He probably needs to build on his base of support, and there aren't any polls I'm aware of that show him doing that.