Media Coverage, Politics, Spring 2017 Articles, Trump

Critical Media Coverage of Trump Elicits Little Sympathy

According to national polling, President Trump receives the lowest job approval rating at this stage of a presidency since modern polling began. His job approval is, on average, below 50%, below the 60% average of past presidents.

Here at State, Trump’s numbers are lower. 16% of undergraduates approve of his job performance and 10% strongly approve, while the majority said they, “strongly disapprove” (55%).

Partisanship always matters for these kinds of evaluations, but its effects are unique to Trump. Nationally, Trump polls about as well with members of his party as past incoming Presidents, but he fails to win much if any Democrats support. Here at State, 97% of Democrats say they disapprove of how Trump is handling his job as president. Meanwhile, 69% of Republicans approve, which is below normal levels of in-party support.

A Hostile Media?

His supporters at State are few, and the plurality of students think news media have covered him fairly despite its overwhelmingly negative tone. Over the past month, President Trump has been calling out various news sources that have reported negative news about him, often about Russia, tweeting that they are “fake news” (you can look up how often he uses the phrase, “fake news” in his twitter account using this tool). While a slightly higher percentage say the media has been too tough on Trump than approved of his job performance (29% vs 26%).

Some Republican students at N.C. State did not support Trump when he was running for the Republican nomination. Many were even outspoken about it during the election saying, “Never Trump.” It is therefore understandable why his support is somewhat low among Republicans at 70%. While Republican students may not fully support Trump, there is still a view among party members that the media tends to be left-leaning and therefore treating him too harshly. Like his job approval, 70% of Republicans say the media has been too harsh.

Conversely, Democrats exhibit no real slippage at the extremes, as just 4% say the media has been too tough on Trump. Interestingly, however, about the same percentage of Democrats say the media hasn’t been tough enough (47%) as “about right” (49%). Republicans do not match that assessment.  2% think the media has been soft on Trump and 29% said it has been fair. Independents, as to be expected, are split somewhere in between what Democrats and Republicans think.

A Toplines report for all survey questions, and results, is available here: Big Poll Spring 2017 Toplines

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: This semesters’ “Big Poll” took place February 14-18, 2017. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,500 NCSU undergraduates and 876 completed the survey, generating a 19.5% response rate. Assuming a 50-50 division in opinion calculated at a 95 percent confidence level, the margin of sampling error for this survey is +/-3.25% when questions were answered by the full sample; sampling error increases for estimates when three or more choices were offered, when fewer respondents were asked a version of a question, or when analyzing the opinions of sub-groups, such as when looking just at how females responded to a question.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of non-sampling error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, and non-response bias (low response rates), but these types of error are not precisely quantifiable. We do not apply post-stratification sample weights for the slight demographic imbalance in gender because weighting the data would not have noticeable effects on the results.



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