Why Is Donald Trump So Popular?

Here I present to you one of the biggest mysteries in American politics: Donald Trump’s steadily rising job approval rating since December 12, 2017:

In the first half of 2018, Trump’s job approval has increased from about 37 percent to 43 percent. But why? My theory has long been that the tax cut is responsible. Sure, it might not be all that popular, but at least it ended a year of chaos with a concrete accomplishment that shows Trump can act presidential when he needs to. But if that’s the case, the warm glow of accomplishment should have faded away as public views of the tax cut have gotten more negative. So what are some other possibilities?

  • The Singapore summit, the Helsinki summit, and the meeting with the queen all seem very presidential.
  • People are increasingly turned off by the Democratic “witch hunt.”
  • The soft bigotry of low expectations: No nuclear wars have started, so that counts in Trump’s favor.
  • People like trade wars with Canada and Europe.
  • A lot of people have been waiting for someone to give NATO a stern talking-to.
  • Separating children at the border is more popular than we think.
  • It’s all meaningless: as the economy improves, so does presidential approval, no matter who the president is.

What else? Those of us who inhabit a liberal cocoon tend to think of the Trump presidency as simply one disaster following another. But obviously the rest of the country doesn’t quite see things that way. So what are they seeing that we don’t?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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