politics

It Looks Like Trump Just Made Up a Poll Saying He's Insanely Popular

He claims that he is more popular among Republicans than Abraham Lincoln. What is he talking about?

Harry Cheadle

Harry Cheadle

Left: Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty. Right: Photo by Katherine Young/Getty

Late Thursday night UK time, British tabloid The Sun dropped a humdinger of an interview with Donald Trump where the president attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for allowing terrorism to happen and harshly criticized British Prime Minister Teresa May's handling of Brexit, which will have huge consequences for UK politics. But he also casually mentioned that he's now more popular than Abraham Lincoln among Republicans:

“You know, a poll just came out that I am the most popular person in the history of the Republican Party—92 per cent. Beating Lincoln. I beat our Honest Abe."

Wait, what? What poll could he be talking about? Untangling Trump's brags is always at least an interesting game, if not exactly a fun one, so let's try to figure this one out:

First of all, it's worth noting that Trump likes to measure himself against Abraham Lincoln. Last year, he told a crowd that he could be the most "presidential" president, with the exception of Lincoln. In February he was feeling a bit more grandiose and told a group of Republican politicians that Senator Orrin Hatch told him he's "the greatest president in the history of our country," including George Washington and Lincoln. (Hatch said he actually told Trump he could be the greatest president.)

But the poll thing is new. What poll could Trump be referencing? There's the Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness survey, which asks historians to rank presidents—that came out this year, and Lincoln was at the top while Trump was dead last. OK, so not that one. There was the more recent poll asking American adults who the greatest president of their lifetime was—Barack Obama topped that list, though Trump at least beat out both of the Bushes. Not that one either. Trump certainly can't be talking about comparing his polling performance to Lincoln's polling performance when he was president, because polling didn't exist back then.

One potential clue is that Trump recently bragged about having better poll numbers than any Republican in history:

It's true that his approval rating among Republicans has been really high, and was at 90 percent in June. "Among Republicans" is the key qualifier here, since his approval rating has been below 50 percent in nearly every poll.

But when talking to The Sun Trump did what he so often does and pushed the brag to the next level, like he's playing telephone with himself. Not only is he a hugely popular president, but he's more popular than Abraham Lincoln! Wow! Big league! The most popular Republican ever!

I still have no idea what Trump talking about with the whole Lincoln business, but the "most popular Republican in history of the Party" is obviously wrong: In the aftermath of 9/11 George W. Bush had a 90 percent overall approval rating and his popularity among Republicans was 98 percent at one point.

Maybe there's a poll I wasn't able to find that compares Trump and Lincoln where Trump comes out ahead. Or maybe Trump was just bullshitting as he so often does.

Follow Harry Cheadle on Twitter.

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