Trump versus Lincoln: A tentative second look [with comment by Paul]

If I were one of the 1500 “US adult citizens” willing to sit for the not insubstantial amount of time it must have taken respondents to fill out The Economist/YouGov November 24-November 26 poll, I would have been among the 410 or so who self-identified as Republicans and among the 437 or so who self-identified as 2016 Trump voters in response to several of the poll’s questions (if I’m reading the poll results correctly). The online poll included 117 questions (not including subparts).

As we rounded into question 70, Schiff impeachment theater would have been on my mind. I would just have responded to question 69, inquiring about my family’s position on impeachment. I would want to reiterate my support for President Trump and my opposition to the Democrats’ unrelenting efforts to remove him from office.

When asked in question 70 whether Lincoln or Trump was the better Republican president, I would wonder if this is some kind of a joke. In my understanding Abraham Lincoln is the lodestar of American politics, human excellence, and much else besides, but I would think that we should probably wait for the end of the Trump presidency to ask such a question. What’s the rush? I would wonder if the question had any purpose other than to belittle Trump.

After suppressing the thoughts, however, I might well have wanted to express my support of President Trump in the current political context by picking Trump. As a bonus, I would have thought to myself, I can troll the pollster and perhaps even drive the left a little closer to the straitjacket brigade. Among 410 Republicans, Trump edged Lincoln 53-47; among 438 2016 Trump voters, Trump edged Lincoln 55-45.

The poll also asked respondents to compare Trump with other Republican presidents including Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Question 73 presented Reagan versus Trump. Among 438 2016 Trump voters (again assuming I’m reading the results correctly), Reagan bested Trump 60-40. Among 411 Republicans, Reagan bested Trump 59-41.

Paul to the contrary notwithstanding, I think this tends to belie the proposition that a Trump cult of personality accounts for the results tabulated among Republicans or 2016 Trump voters among “US adult citizens” in response to question 70.

If you want to review the Lincoln versus Trump poll results with your own eyes, by the way, you have to scroll down to page 267 of the poll report’s 457[!] pages. The Trump versus Reagan results can be found on page 270. You can find the whole thing here.

PAUL responds: Trump has declared that “nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president.” He has also said “that’s the way a lot of people feel that know what’s going on.” Thus, I think it’s fair to ask the public how he compares to certain past presidents.

I’m glad a majority of Republican respondents deem Reagan a better president than Trump. However, the fact that two in five consider Trump better arguably constitutes additional evidence of a Trump cult of personality.

SCOTT adds: When Paul writes that the Reagan numbers “arguably” support his thesis, something tells me this is an argument he can’t lose.