Bombing Syria Looks Like It Gave Trump A Bump In The Polls

The week Trump bombed a Syrian airbase, his polling numbers took a turn for the better.

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Apr 11, 2017 at 7:10 AM ET

President Trump’s polling numbers — trending downward for weeks now — appear to have made a slight turnaround last week, after a surprise airstrike on Syria.

Two weeks ago, President Trump had both the lowest approval rating and the highest disapproval rating in his nascent presidency per Gallup’s weekly poll. Following last Friday’s bombing of a Syrian air base in response to a chemical weapons attack, however, Trump’s polling fortunes have improved.

The most recent polling data, which covers the week ending April 8, showed Trump improving from his record-low 38 percent approval rating to a 40 percent rating. Until then, Trump’s approval rating had decreased for the past four weeks in a row.

Trump’s disapproval rating was steadily climbing in that same time, hitting a record high of 57 percent. Last week, it decreased by four percentage points, to 53. Four points may not seem like much, but it’s the sharpest decrease Trump has ever had week-to-week so far.

Americans tend to (but don’t always) rally around their leader in times of military aggression, and while the Syria bombing was a relatively minor attack, it was also the first real show of force from the new president, making it symbolically significant if not strategically. And Trump is well aware of how military force can improve a president’s poll numbers.

But there are also signs that this good news may not translate to long term success for Trump. Another Gallup poll showed that American approval of the Syria attack was “historically low” compared to American reactions to previous military attacks, with the second-lowest approval rating and the second-highest disapproval rating on the list. And Gallup’s daily Trump approval tracker didn’t show much of a reaction in the days following the Syria bombing. In fact, the big increase that week came around the time that news broke that President Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice was responsible for “unmasking” the identities of Trump associates whose communications with foreign officials were incidentally monitored by intelligence agencies. Rasmussen’s daily poll followed a similar course.

Trump may also be alienating his supporters while temporarily appealing to the more liberal-minded: his biggest and most vocal fans have decried the Syrian bombing, believing it is an indication that he will get involved in foreign wars after campaigning on a platform that was critical of American intervention in such actions.