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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS1619B

When it comes to Trump, what do voters care about?

We know that voters who supported President Donald Trump wanted a shake-up in Washington. So, nearly four months into his first term, how do they like what they’re seeing? And which recent headlines may have affected voters? Let’s turn to a simple go-to metric: approval rating.

Some stories that were massive in Washington did not seem to concern voters. For example, after his first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned on Feb. 13 over his conversations with a Russian official, Mr. Trump’s approval rating remained steady for a week. But other stories did track with changes in his approval numbers.

Trump's favorable and unfavorable ratings. Graphic Courtesy of Real Clear Politics

Trump’s favorable and unfavorable ratings. Graphic Courtesy of Real Clear Politics

  • Travel ban: The White House announced its initial travel ban order late on Friday, Jan. 27. A weekend of confusion, protests at airports and then court rulings followed. The president’s unfavorability rating started to climb.
  • Russia and health care: On Monday, March 20, then-F.B.I. Director James Comey testified that the agency was in fact investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Five days later, Trump issued an ultimatum pushing for a vote on the House Republicans’ health care bill, which was soon pulled for lack of support. (Another version of that bill passed earlier this month). That week, the president’s approval margin began a slide that would continue for two weeks.
  • Syria airstrike: Trump’s drop in approval ratings ended April 6, the same day he launched a military strike against Syria. The strike came after U.S. intelligence and others concluded the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against civilians.
  • Comey firing: The president’s numbers had been warming when he fired Comey on May 9. That has led — so far — to a significant drop in approval ratings.

An early conclusion: Voters seem most affected by unexpected events with concrete outcomes that are directly tied to the president. But a reminder: Trump’s approval ratings during the election were poor forecasts of how he would do at the polls, so you never know.

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