Presidential Approval Ratings: Comparing Trump to Former Presidents

Comparison of Trump's Approval Ratings
Trump’s Approval Ratings Compared to Recent Presidents

I’m a numbers nerd as I’ve mentioned before. I like to research obscure stats in sports and look for trends in pretty much any area of life. I’m not overly into politics, so this post might be a little out of character for me. But I’m not really talking politics. I’m looking at numbers in context.

The current political climate feels more charged than it’s ever been. Both sides of the political spectrum seems to be more volatile than I can remember in my lifetime. And, in particular, President Trump seems to be one of the least popular presidents ever if you read what’s being written in various online outlets and social media sites.

I saw a news story today that got my attention with the headline “Trump’s approval rating hits record high.” It was was at 44%, which seems low for a record high, but also seems quite higher than I expected based on the stuff written about him.

That led me to compare his approval rating to previous presidents at the same point of their term in office. It’s easy to look back and think more highly or lowly of former presidents, but what was the climate like at the same point in office?

Thankfully I didn’t have to look very far. The website FiveThirtyEight has a great resource showing both Trump’s approval rating and an easy comparison to former presidents as shown above.

As of this writing Trump is at day 899 in office and his approval rating is at 42.6%. At the same time in their terms Obama was at 46.2%, Clinton 47.4%, and Reagan was 46.8%. Each of the Bush presidents were much higher, but the country was in the midst of wars and their numbers were skewed higher.

So, what’s the takeaway? Context gives us an indication that the current administration is not all that different than one’s that have come before in terms of approval rating. Setting politics aside, Trump’s approval rating is only 5% less than Clinton’s when comparing to the same day in office. I was somewhat surprised at this, but also not shocked. We tend to get caught up in the moment and overly sensationalize how good or bad things are while we are going through them. Some people will love what a politician is doing and others will hate everything about that person. Doesn’t seem to matter which party is in office.

WAR / Games Played

MLB War Analysis at the 2019 Midway Point

I’m a geek and a sports nut. So, that makes baseball one of my favorite things. Ever since I was in Pony League I was tracking stats. I loved knowing what my batting average and slugging percentage were. This was before advanced analytics, Moneyball, and sabermetrics were commonplace. I would also spend hours every week reading the MLB player stats on the back of their Topps Baseball Cards and in the box scores in the Sports section of the newspaper.

Nowadays it’s much easier to track player stats. Thanks to the free website from anyone can find just about any stat that they can dream of. Many of the stats provide useful insights while others are just fun to dig into. On top of that, visualization tools like Power BI allows anyone to more easily see data in ways that the numbers alone can’t really do justice to. Let’s take a look at one example: Wins Against Replacement (WAR).

WAR is a relatively new stat that tries to give more insight into how valuable a player truly is to his team. It looks past batting average and tries to determine the full impact a player has had in his team’s wins. The Texas Rangers just played their 81st game of the 2019 season and they have far exceeded my and just about everyone else’s expectations. One player in particular has had a breakthrough season: Joey Gallo.

Gallo hit 40+ HRs in each of his two previous seasons, so you might wonder why this season could possibly be considered a breakthrough season. Well, his highest batting average in any previous season was .209 and he struck out nearly 200 times both of full seasons in 2017 and 2018. This year, however, he’s hitting .279 and has only struck out 80 times, although he has missed about 25 games due to injury.

Gallo’s injuries are quite interesting when you look at the league leaders in WAR. At the midway point only 16 players have a WAR of at least 3.0, and Gallo is one of them. Take a look at the following chart:

WAR Per Games Played

Gallo is one of the outliers. He’s WAAAAYYYYY down at the bottom left. There are no other players in the league that have a WAR of 3.0+ who have played in less than 72 games, but Gallo has accomplished this in only 52 games with a 3.1 WAR. The average number of games played for the players with 3.0+ WAR is 76. If Gallo had played that many games in 2019 his WAR would likely be around 4.5, which would put him behind only Cody Bellinger (6.6) and Mike Trout (5.2). (Note: this article was written before Baseball-Reference had updated their data to include June 27th’s games in which he hit two home runs, so his WAR will likely be higher when the data is updated).

Taking a look at the leaders’ current WAR Per Game and extrapolating that over a full 162 games would make the leaders look like this:

So, where does all this data lead us? First, it’s a little disappointing that Gallo was not voted as a starter in the 2019 All-Star Game. Understandable for sure, as there are still a few Rangers fans who dislike Gallo because he doesn’t bunt to get on base against the shift. But most importantly this data shows that Gallo is a rising star. Looking at his impact on the Rangers season thus far it’s undeniable that he’s the most impactful player on the team’s roster. This doesn’t guarantee that that second half of the season will be as good as the first half. But it sure has been a fun ride so far.

If you’d like to take a look at the interactive report I made in Power BI you can check out it using this link.

My Top Ten Most Popular Posts, July-September 2010

Here’s a quick look at the posts that got the most traffic on my blog, along with a few thoughts about each.

  1. Goodbye DirecTV, Hello FiOS TV! Even though I wrote this post over 4.5 years ago, it still remains my most popular post by far. About 17% of the traffic to my blog is to this post. My idea was to write the review that didn’t exist at the time of what FiOS TV was really like. It was really in-depth and based on both the traffic it gets (still) and the number of comments it has received most people agree. It’s definitely out of date now, but still gets a bunch of hits.
  2. How I Pack and Ship Books (It’s Easy, Cheap, and Keeps Them Safe). This post was a step-by-step guide on what I do when I sell books. It’s dirt cheap and super simple. If you sell or trade books you should check it out!
  3. Countdown Timer for Church. A few years back at my last church we were trying to be better at keeping our services from running too long. One of the things that our preacher wanted was a countdown timer. I did some investigation and discovered they weren’t cheap, so I decided to figure out how to make one myself. We ended up with a very usable system and I decided to give it away for free to anyone who wanted it. So if your church needs a free stage countdown timer you can download it, too.
  4. The iPad Commercial Apple Doesn’t Want You to See. I have an iPad and I really thought this video from Newsday was clever and funny. The original video I linked to was taken down pretty quickly, but I found another that’s up and you can still see it.
  5. Pitch Your Tent Guy. Being a minister, I know it’s easy to make mistakes while your teaching. But it’s pretty unusual to make this big of a flub in a room full of teenagers. Blake‘s a great guy and continues to do great ministry now in Nashville, TN at Cross Point Church.
  6. What Should a Pastor’s Salary Be? I got the idea for this post from the news making a big deal about Ed Young’s salary and perks. This was just some simple thoughts on different perspectives on how to pay a pastor.
  7. Five Easy Ways to Listen to the ESV Audio Bible for Free Anytime, Anywhere. I have a feeling that this post is going to rise in popularity in the coming months. It was one of my favorite posts of all time.
  8. Two Mega-church Pastors in Dallas, Two Completely Different Views from the Media. Similar to #7, but less about money and more about how our culture views pastors.
  9. The Biggest Flaw in John Hollinger’s ESPN NBA Power Rankings. I probably was just venting my frustration living as a Mavericks fan on this one, but still pretty good thoughts over all.
  10. Smart Add Cheat Sheet. I like making things simple and this little cheat sheet makes my life simpler many days.

Those were my most popular posts according to the stats. Was there a post that you really liked that didn’t make the list? Share in the comments.