NEW YORK – Prominent statisticians today unveiled their analysis of why President Trump does not have a 0% job approval rating.
“According to recent polls, 39% of all registered voters, and 85% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing as president,” said Heaven Wallace, who headed the three month study and is currently the Mark Twain Chair of Improbable Statistics at Princeton University. “Of course the logical question to ask is ‘why is this non-zero?’ None of us could explain that, so that really was the kick-off to our study.”
The group – which includes statisticians from Ivy League and 12 other schools with advanced statistics programs – took an independent, deep analysis of political polling data, combined with demographic and lifestyle data across a broad range of American voting age adults.
“We learned a lot about how people make choices, in general, based on basically nothing,” said Jovan Short, Professor of Mathematical Chaos at Holcolm College. “For example, there are roughly 19 – 28% of the American population who just won’t believe anything they’re told, no matter whether the source is one they consider credible or not. But stated party affiliation seems to matter here: self-professed Democrats end up on the lower end of the scale, 9-16%, whereas Republicans are on the opposite side at 38-43%.”
“We started calling them the ‘black hole’ group – information goes in, but never makes it out in any useful fashion,” said Trevor Wilcox, from M.I.T. “This includes themselves, which we found fascinating: when their own responses were read back to them, they denied they responded the way they did, even after we began videotaping the sessions and playing back the tape.”
“This refusal to acknowledge outside information was a point of considerable pride for this group,” said Cameron Gibbs, Chair of Public Policy Statistics at Yalvard University. “This seems to indicate that whether you have Donald Trump, or Josef Mengele, or Winnie The Pooh running on a Republican ticket, they can poll somewhere in the 30-40% range, no matter what they say or do.“
“Other groups we identified seem to prefer a candidate even more when others oppose him or her,” said Wallace. "People in this group would start out saying they ‘Slightly Approve’ of a particular candidate and would switch to ‘Strongly Approve’ the more negative statements of that candidate we presented to them.”
“We called them the ‘angry contrarians,’” said Wilcox. “And that effect seemed to work both ways. The more positive statements we implied, the more likely their opinion would stay the same or reverse. By the end some people ‘Hated’ the candidate they started out liking in the face of positive statements.”
“The last group we noticed was the ‘party hardliners,’ they support whatever candidate their professed party has on the ballot, but react somewhat rationally in the face of documented evidence,” said Gibbs. “This can be upwards of 11% of Democrats, but nearly 35% of Republicans.”
“So we’re confident we found a model to explain the current poll numbers: approximately 30% of Republicans will vote for Trump no matter what,” said Wallace. “And given the daily onslaught of negative press the ‘angry contrarians’ only like him more, kicking that up another 23 - 25%, while the hardliners are inclined to support him almost blindly, but dipped slightly based on the impeachment, handling of the coronavirus, the complete economic meltdown, constant public policy havoc, incoherent public statements, and so on. So, overall, we can explain Trump polling a 75 – 85% approval among people who identify as Republican voters.”
“Kinda makes us want to kill ourselves,” summarized Wallace.