President Trump said in an interview on Thursday that he is the most popular person in the history of the Republican Party and told The Sun he was, “[b]eating Lincoln. I beat our Honest Abe.”
On Tuesday, the President tweeted about a new poll that was out showing him as “the most popular Republican in history of the Party” with a 90% approval rating among Republicans, but in fact he only beats Gerald Ford in recent history. Not only is he not the most popular Republican in history, but there’s no way to say that for certain – especially regarding Lincoln – since there is no polling to consult from 1860.
Gallup has Trump’s approval rating among Republicans at 88% right now, close to what he claimed it was in the tweet. That’s compared to 37% approval among independents and 9% among Democrats.
And it’s true that Trump’s approval among Republicans is lofty. The most recent Gallup numbers tie Trump’s highest approval in his own party since he became President in January 2017.
Trump is more popular among Republicans now than President Barack Obama was among Democrats at this point in his presidency. In July 2010, Obama received an 81% approval rating from the Democrats, which is lower than Trump’s rating among Republicans today. However, Obama’s highest rating at this point in his presidency from his own party was 93% in May 2009, which is higher than Trump’s highest rating so far.
However, looking at Gallup’s historical trend line, it’s not accurate to call him “the most popular Republican in history (sic) of the Party.”
A year and a half into his Presidency, George W. Bush had a 96% approval rating among the Republican party (July 2002). His approval took a huge leap after 9/11, giving him his highest rating among his own party through his two terms – 98% in October 2001.
In July 1990, President George H.W. Bush received an 83% approval rating. Granted, that’s lower than Trump’s right now, but if we’re going by highest achieved approval rating at this point in his presidency, he received 94% only months earlier in January.
Of all Republican presidents measured by Gallup (W. Bush, H.W. Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, and Eisenhower), only Gerald Ford didn’t achieve an approval rating above 88% by July of his first year and suffered from chronically low ratings among the party his entire term.
None of this is to imply that Trump isn’t very popular among Republicans. The polling shows that he is. He’s just not the most popular Republican in the history of the party.