After video of Trump admitting to a string of sexual assaults appeared last October, his approval rating bottomed out; a month later, it had recovered -- and he was the President.
This pattern recurs, with Trump's approval rating among his core constituency dropping and recovering when he fires the Director of the FBI and when a special prosecutor is appointed. Trump stages a distraction, his base forgets about his crimes and misdemeanors, and he recovers to his (admittedly low) pre-crisis baseline of about 40% approval.
The important takeaway is that while Trump is the least popular president in US history, he's also seems to have a floor on his popularity. The burn-the-world crowd who voted for Trump as a vote in favor of white supremacy or possibly punishing elites (har!) have not yet found a sin that disqualifies him from their continued support.
Nate Silver thinks it could one day drop below the 40% mark, but Eric Levitz isn't sure.
Last week, Nate Silver argued that it’s likely wrong to think that Trump has a “floor” of 40 percent approval:
[T]he idea that 39 or 40 percent of the country will never abandon Trump is probably mistaken — or at least, it represents a speculative interpretation of the evidence. The share of voters who say they strongly support Trump is only 20 to 25 percent — and those numbers have been falling. Moreover, Trump has lost about one point off his overall approval rating per month. That might not sound like a lot, but if the pattern continued, he’d be in the low-to-mid 30s by the new year and into Nixonian territory by the midterms.
These points remain valid. But it’s also worth noting how resiliently forgiving (and/or forgetful) Trump’s “weak” supporters are. It took lukewarm Trumpists less than a month to get over his apparent confession to sexual assault — and less than two weeks to look past his apparent confession to obstruction of justice.
Trump’s Approval Rating Recovers, As Voters Forgive and Forget [Eric Levitz/New York Magazine]
Trackers are noisy, but: Trump approval among indies, per Gallup:— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) May 30, 2017
May 1-7: 40%
May 15-21: 31%
May 22-28: 37% pic.twitter.com/k0u1saUYFG
(via Naked Capitalism)