What’s up with RASMUSSEN’S Recent Polls?

If you are political junkie, I’m sure that you are aware of the regular differences between most pollsters and the Rasmussen Reports Surveys. As an example, during the first two and half months of this year, Rasmussen’s average daily Trump job approval rating was nearly five points higher than the average of all other polls taken during the same days.

There a few reasons for this disparity starting with the survey method Rasmussen uses to contact and interview voters. The firm uses an automated call method (sometimes known as a “robo call”). As an old pollster, I have had some experience using this telephone technique and it has some advantages over the traditional live phone surveys and some serious disadvantages.

First and foremost, its fast and less expensive compared to live call surveys. Secondly, since the call is automated, the survey script is the same for every respondent. No adlibbing from the surveyor. And possibly, some people might be more honest with the computer than with a live caller.

There are two major downsides, however, to the automated call. Most importantly, no cell phones can be called by the machine. Consequently, the number of younger voters responding is small and the sample respondents tend to be older.

That may increases the number of likely voters, but the sample tends to be older and more Republican. Rasmussen also weights its respondents according by party as well.

On the opposite side, many public pollsters still survey all residents and don’t differentiate whether the respondent is either registered or a likely voter. This allows for more comparisons with previous surveys done in the past, but probably reduces the accuracy that a likely registered voter survey would have.

But none of this is new to you political junkies. What you may not know, is how the Rasmussen’s Trump approval ratings have declined in recent weeks. As I regularly record the approval ratings on almost a daily basis, I have noticed a recent change in the Rasmussen numbers. The Chart below shows the Rasmussen approval ratings (red line) and every other polling company’s poll results (blue line) on the same day as listed on the Real Clear Politics website.

Although this chart looks like Rorschach Test, it is tracking the Rasmussen Trump approval ratings (red line) versus the cumulative average poll ratings of all other firms (blue line), from January through April 6th.

If you look closely, you will notice that at the end of February, the Rasmussen rating took a dramatic drop from 52% to 44% in less than 30 days, an 18% decline. At the same time, other pollsters were recording higher approval numbers until the end of March, when they also declined as well. For those who are color blind, the table below will help.


The average Rasmussen Trump approval percent in this time period is 46% and the average of other polls is 45.5%. In other words, the Rasmussen job approval polls are tracking all other public polls which in my experience is highly unusual.

Most commentators that have noticed these recent lower approval ratings have posited it’s the public’s reaction to Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. If this is true, the Rasmussen polls could be like the canary in the coal mine.

Their survey still represents the opinions of many in the Trump base. If they are having misgivings about how he is handling the crisis, it would have a serious effect on his reelection chances, to say the least.

But it could easily turnaround before we get to November. If Rasmussen doesn’t show a Job Approval rating of 50% by then, he’ll be playing golf at his course by Christmas.

I will continue to monitor the Rasmussen Trump surveys to see if the recent data is an aberration or a trend. Rasmussen may end up being the best predictor of Trump’s election fate! Who would have guessed…

By Jim Kane

Jim Kane is a pollster and media advisor, and was for fifteen years an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida. Kane is founder of the polling firm USAPoll and served as the Director of the Florida Voter Poll. His political clients have included both Republican and Democratic candidates, including the Republican Party of Florida, and both the Sun-Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel newspapers. At the University of Florida, Professor Kane taught graduate level courses in political science on Survey Research, Lobbying and Special Interest Groups in America, Political Campaigning, and Political Behavior. In addition to his professional and academic career, Jim Kane has been actively involved in local and state policy decisions. He was elected to the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation Board (1978-1982) and the Port Everglades Authority (1988-1994). Kane also served as an appointed member of the Broward County Planning Council (1995-2003), Broward County Management Review Committee (Chair, 1990-1991), Broward County Consumer Protection Board (1976-1982), and the Broward County School Board Consultants Review Committee (1986-1990).

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