Answer Man

Was Rush Limbaugh telling the truth about Trump’s approval rating?

Q: Rush Limbaugh recently talked at length about Donald Trump’s approval rating being higher than Bill Clinton’s after five months in office. Considering the criticism Trump has been under, I find that hard to believe. Could this be fake news from the Republicans?

Robert Kombrink, of Troy

A: Despite the recent onslaught of investigations and negative headlines, Rush’s claims were true — at least, as far as they went.

Political junkies with good memories will recall that Bill Clinton also faced fierce headwinds during his earliest days in 1993. The economy still was struggling to gain traction, his don’t-ask-don’t-tell military gay service policy angered many on both sides and the White House travel office ethics scandal was starting to bubble.

As a result, Clinton’s approval rating after 138 days was 37.8 percent, while Donald Trump on June 6 was two percentage points higher at 39.8 percent, so Rush was on the money with his conclusion.

However, I’m betting Rush did not mention that Clinton’s numbers soon began to rise. By the end of June, Gallup had him in the mid-40s, and, by the time he left office in 2001, two-thirds of the country approved of him, which indicated at least some bipartisan support. In fact, a 2014 Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg Survey found Clinton was named by 42 percent of those polled as the most admired president of the past quarter-century. At that time, Obama was second at 18 percent.

It will be interesting to see if Mr. Trump can match Bill Clinton’s later numbers — and, if not, whether Rush will make note of it.