Dem pollster: Trump stronger politically than critics expected

Prominent pollster Mark Penn says that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE is in a stronger political position than many of his critics realize. 

"About six months ago we all thought 'Oh Trump, he's going to be in the 30s, the economy, of course, was going to be in the tank,' and in fact, none of that has happened. So you really have to adjust our models and our thinking to the reality of what's going on in the country," Penn, chairman of the Harris Poll, told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking."

Penn, a former aide to Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIt is wrong to say 'no collusion' 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era And the winner of the Robert Mueller Sweepstakes is — Vladimir Putin MORE's Senate and presidential campaigns from 2000 to 2008, noted in the interview that Trump's approval rating trajectory has diverged from past presidents. Trump's approval rating has actually ticked up as the 2018 midterm elections approach. 

A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released last month found that Trump's approval rating ticked up to 47 percent from 45 percent in May. 

Trump is currently at 41 percent approval in Gallup's presidential tracker. Around the same point in his presidency, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJuan Williams: Buttigieg already making history Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Trump hits Romney for Mueller criticism MORE stood at 46 percent in the poll, more than a 20-point drop from when he entered office.

— Julia Manchester