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Trump's poll numbers are mired at record lows, but economy may be his saving grace

Donald Trump
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has had a rough ride during his first 100 days, with a recent batch of surveys showing his job approval rating at or near historic lows.

Yet a look beneath the hood of the latest batch of public opinion polls suggest the economy—an area of success where Trump has staked his reputation—could be his saving grace.

According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, the president's overall approval rating stands near 40 percent, with almost two-thirds of Americans giving Trump poor or mediocre ratings. A plurality believe he's off to a "poor start," the data showed.

By contrast, Obama's overall rating stood at 61 percent in the poll, George W. Bush's was at 56 percent and Bill Clinton's was at 52 percent, according to NBC/WSJ's findings.

However, a separate poll by the Washington Post and ABC News show Trump's base is holding firm, with a large number of those surveyed saying the economy is getting better. The Post/ABC data showed Trump with a 42 percent approval rating, largely in line with NBC/WSJ's findings and the lowest for any president in at least 50 years, the report showed.

At the same time, Americans who spoke to the Post/ABC said the economy is getting better — 30 percent — outnumbered those who say it's getting worse, which was only 18 percent. That was the biggest margin in 15 years in Post-ABC polling. Approximately half of Americans say the economy is neither better nor worse.

In the NBC/WSJ poll, Trump scored comparatively high marks on the economy, with 44 percent approving of his handling. Trump has staked sizable political capital on boosting U.S. jobs growth and bringing down taxes, a hint of which may come as early as this week. The Post/ABC survey showed a whopping 73 percent of Americans approve of the president's pressuring companies to keep jobs in the U.S.

Those nuggets of data are consistent with recent readings on the temperature of the U.S. economy. Although March's jobs report showed payroll growth below Wall Street forecasts, the unemployment rate tumbled to its lowest in almost a decade—strong enough for the Federal Reserve to continue with its plan to hike interest rates from current accomodative levels.

The prospect of tax reform has cheered investors, and sent stocks on a tear to record highs.

See the full results at the Washington Post.