According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday, half of Republicans think President Trump is a "genius." The poll comes weeks after Trump, in response to a series of news pieces questioning his mental stability, said in a tweet storm that he's "a very stable genius" and has been able to find success in life because he's "like, really smart."
However, the 50 percent of Republican respondents who think the president is a genius are outliers compared with the rest of the country; only 21 percent of all adult respondents in the poll felt the same. A mere six percent of Democrats in the survey agreed that Trump is a genius — although, strangely enough, that's actually one percent higher than Trump's job approval rating amongst Democrats in the latest Gallup poll.
On the one hand, the prospect that one in two Republicans think Trump is a genius suggests that the president, despite having some very vocal and visible critics within the GOP, is genuinely admired by a large chunk of his own party. On the other hand, 40 percent of Republicans in that poll rejected Trump's self-proclaimed "genius" status, and another 10 percent had no opinion. That's a significant level of dissent.
The same poll also asked respondents to assess Trump's mental stability. This became a hot topic when Politico reported that in December, lawmakers summoned a Yale psychiatrist to Capitol Hill for two days to brief them on the president's cognitive health. That psychiatrist, Dr. Bandy X Lee, reportedly told legislators that the president is "falling apart under stress" and "going to unravel."
"Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency," Lee, who edited a book on Trump's mental health, reportedly said.
In the Washington Post-ABC News poll, 84 percent of Republicans said that they think Trump is mentally stable, compared with 48 percent of all Americans. Only 21 percent of Democrats in the poll said that they believe the president is mentally stable.
Trump has been touting his own intelligence since long before he entered politics. He suggested that he's a genius in his 2009 book Think Like A Champion: An Informal Education In Business and Life, and expounded at length about the power of "tell[ing] yourself that you are a genius."
"Someone asked me if I thought I was a genius," Trump wrote. "I decided to say yes. Why not? Try it out. Tell yourself that you are a genius. And right away you will have opened your mind up to wonder — and to asking questions. That's a big first step to thinking like a genius, and it might unlock some of your hidden talents." Trump added that in his view, true geniuses "tend to be prolific" and often possess "the ability to think in opposites."
"Genius" is a subjective term without any official or clinical definition. Some have attempted to pin it to IQ, suggesting that any IQ score above 140 is indicative of genius-level intelligence. But IQ tests are of dubious reliability in general — and more importantly, Trump has never publicly released the results of an IQ test that he's taken (although he has, paradoxically, offered to "compare IQ tests" to several other politicians, including one member of his own administration).
Barbara Res, who served as a top executive for Trump in the 1980s during the construction of Trump Tower, confirmed to the Washington Post that Trump thinks highly of his own intelligence, and that it was fairly simple to leverage this belief of his in order to sway his decision-making.
"He needed to be stroked all the time and told how smart he was," Res told the Post. "Every decision process was clouded by his sense that he knows more than anybody else. But you could work with that: The way we got things done was to approach him with an idea and make him think it was his. It was so easy."