Trump’s ratings slide back to pre-crisis levels

Joe Biden has clear leads over Trump in key states as the coronavirus death toll and economic damage rise. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont,

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings with all polls are 43.4% approve, 52.6% disapprove (net -9.2%). With polls of registered or likely voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.8% approve, 52.5% disapprove (net -8.7%). Since my article three weeks ago, Trump has lost five points on net approval, returning his ratings to about their early March levels, before the coronavirus crisis began.

As the US coronavirus death toll increases to over 50,000, there has been far more criticism of Trump’s early response, and this appears to have punctured the “rally round the flag” effect.

Furthermore, there has been a massive economic impact from the virus and related shutdowns: in the last five weeks, over 26 million filed for unemployment benefits. In the latest week, over 4.4 million filed. While this is a slowdown, it is far ahead of the previous record of 695,000 weekly jobless claims. The April jobs report, to be released in early May, will be grim.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls gives Biden a 5.9% lead over Trump, little changed from 6.1% three weeks ago. However, most of the polls in the average were taken in early April, when Trump’s ratings were better.

As we know from 2016, the US does not use the popular vote to elect presidents; instead, each state is allocated Electoral Votes (EVs). A state’s EVs are its House seats (population dependent) and senators (always two). There are 538 total EVs, so it takes 270 to win. With two minor exceptions, states award their EVs winner-takes-all.

In 2016, Trump won 306 EVs to Hillary Clinton’s 232, ignoring “faithless” electors, despite losing the popular vote by 2.1%. Trump won Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan by 1.2% or less.

The three most recent Florida polls give Biden an average two-point lead. In Michigan, he has an eight-point lead in the only April poll. In Pennsylvania, Biden averages a seven-point lead in two April polls. In Arizona, which has trended Democratic at recent elections, Biden leads Trump by 9% in an April poll.

Despite noisy protests in Michigan and other states advocating an end to social distancing, polls show the vast majority of Americans want social distancing to continue. In an AP-NORC poll, just 12% thought distancing measures went too far, 26% said they didn’t go far enough and 61% said they are about right.

To have a realistic chance of winning the next election, Trump needs the US economy to be perceived as improving by November. While his base is loyal, lower-educated voters in general want a good economy, and Trump needs their support to offset losses among higher educated voters owing to his behaviour.

Despite the continued economic and coronavirus woe, the Dow Jones has rebounded from a low below 18,600 on March 23 to be currently above 23,500. Stock traders anticipate a V-shaped recovery, which would assist Trump. But since March 31, there have been 25,000 to 35,000 new US coronavirus cases every day. I am sceptical that the US can reduce the caseload to a point where economic activity can safely resume anytime soon.

Israel and South Korea election updates

In my previous article, I said that right-wing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc won 58 of the 120 Knesset seats at the March 2 election. Owing to coronavirus, Blue & White leader Benny Gantz would attempt to form a national unity government with Netanyahu. On April 20, the Netanyahu/Gantz agreement was sealed, with Netanyahu remaining PM for at least the next 18 months. After three elections within a year, this is a big win for Netanyahu, giving him his fifth successive term as PM.

Despite the coronavirus, parliamentary elections were held in South Korea on April 15, with precautions to stop the virus spreading. The left-wing Demcratic party of the incumbent president was rewarded for South Korea’s strong performance on coronavirus. They won 180 of the 300 seats (up 57 since 2016), to 103 for conservative parties (down 19). 253 seats were elected by first past the post, and 47 proportionally. The Democrats won the FPTP seats by 163 to 84 on vote shares of 49.9% to 41.5%.

28 comments on “Trump’s ratings slide back to pre-crisis levels”

  1. And favorites for the VP candidate to Biden are:

    Senator Kamala Harris 2/1
    Senator Amy Klobuchar 7/2
    Senator Elizabeth Warren 7/2
    Governor Gretchen Whitmer 10/1
    Michelle Obama 10/1

  2. And favorites for the VP candidate to Biden are:

    Senator Kamala Harris 2/1
    Senator Amy Klobuchar 7/2
    Senator Elizabeth Warren 7/2
    Governor Gretchen Whitmer 10/1
    Michelle Obama 10/1

    Be careful with such metrics. Some of that is also just name recognition (especially in the case of Michelle Obama.) That is not to say none of those people will be chosen/shortlisted or would be a good choice, just familiarity gives them an edge in things like betting odds over, say, some congressperson or official who isn’t immediately as recognisable but is still a strong choice.

  3. A new Fox poll gives Biden a 3% lead in Florida and a 3.2% average lead.

    Florida will fix any voting problems during the count. Trump could win there with 35% of the vote on the day.

  4. Once again the major hurdle to removing The Donald will be the electoral college voting system. I’m not holding my breath in seeing his flabby orange face with the dead tribble covering his balding nut leaving the White House.

  5. Wow, The Intercept has dirt on Biden. That’s gonna make him lose sleep. Lemme guess: Current Affairs and Jacobin are running it too?

  6. WASHINGTON — President Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

    The scale of the G.O.P.’s challenge has crystallized in the last week. With 26 million Americans now having filed for unemployment benefits, Mr. Trump’s standing in states that he carried in 2016 looks increasingly wobbly: New surveys show him trailing significantly in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, and he is even narrowly behind in must-win Florida.

    Democrats raised substantially more money than Republicans did in the first quarter in the most pivotal congressional races, according to recent campaign finance reports. And while Mr. Trump is well ahead in money compared with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democratic donors are only beginning to focus on the general election, and several super PACs plan to spend heavily on behalf of him and the party.

    Perhaps most significantly, Mr. Trump’s single best advantage as an incumbent — his access to the bully pulpit — has effectively become a platform for self-sabotage.

  7. I am confident that Trump regards negative opinion polls as worse than a virus… and he has got the solution already: Inject himself with Dettol!

    I am not sure whether he will survive until November, though….

  8. “So slightly ahead of where he was against Hillary and with Biden yet to implode”…

    Ha, ha, ha…. The difference between now and then is that then Trump was the alleged “outsider”, the alleged “successful businessman”, the “reality TV show host”…. an alleged “breath of fresh air”….

    Now he is an impeached liar, a demented, a lunatic, an irresponsible and ignorant on just about everything, a destroyer of jobs and the economy, a buffoon that is an international embarrassment to the USA… It’s time for the GOP to start praying…. they need one, two, most likely three very BIG miracles in the races for Presidency, House of Reps and the Senate….

  9. Texas is safe republican.

    The presidential election is decided in the swing states that Biden needs to win:

    1. Michigan 0.3 percent
    Trump 47.6 percent, Clinton 47.3 percent
    Difference: 13,080 votes

    2. Wisconsin 1 percent
    Trump 47.9 percent, Clinton 46.9 percent
    Difference: 27,257 votes

    3. Pennsylvania 1.2 percent
    Trump 48.8 percent, Clinton 47.6 percent
    Difference: 68,236 votes

    4. Florida 1.2 percent
    Trump 49 percent, Clinton 47.8 percent
    Difference: 112,911 votes

    5. Minnesota 1.5 percent
    Clinton 46.4 percent, Trump 44.9 percent
    Difference: 44,470 votes

    6. North Carolina 3.8 percent
    Trump 49.9 percent, Clinton 46.1 percent
    Difference: 177,009 votes

    7. Arizona 3.9 percent
    Trump 49.3 percent, Clinton 45.4 percent
    Difference: 91,682 votes

  10. For a little extra context on AZ and TX

    AZ – In the 4 elections before 2016, the Republican won Arizona by 9, 9, 11 and 6 points

    TX – In the last 5 elections the Republican won Texas by 9, 16, 11, 23 and 21 points .. the last two are of course former Texas Governor George W. Bush

  11. Texas hasn’t gone for a Democratic candidate since Carter in 1976, when the southern conservative “dixiecrats” hadn’t defected to the Republicans yet (although they were starting to dip.)

    The problem with Texas is, despite some growth in its urban areas and increased Latinx population down south, it has a very thick rural population that trends extremely conservative. Also, Texas is sort of a cultural gateway between different regions. The eastern part is very Deep South, the north is more like a Prairie State and the west/southwest more like its western counterparts. While the increase of Latinx voters has softened the GOP vote there (especially as the party has moved to sharp anti-immigration stances) and certainly the southwest is getting bluer, it’s still a bit away from voting for a Democrat to be President.

    However, that’s not to say it’s a lost cause in the long term. It’s trending the right way and it’s also translating into more Democrats being elected to the House (and to the state legislature), gerrymandering notwithstanding. The real sign it’s changing would be the state starting to elect Democrats to meaningful statewide offices again (although don’t expect them to be big liberals any time soon.)

  12. In terms of red states trending blue, I would look more closely at Arizona and Georgia. Arizona, as pointed out, elected Trump by single digits. It also elected Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, as US Senator in 2018 and looks on track to elect Mark Kelly (another Democrat) to the other Senate seat this year. Its House delegation is also currently 5-4 in favour of the Democrats. This is because the Latinx population is growing there. And, as it has done in New Mexico and Nevada over the last two decades, the conservative white vote has diminished in comparison. While Arizona still leans Republican and I wouldn’t put all my eggs in that basket, it’s sharply going the way of its neighbours and losing its reputation as the state of Goldwater.

    Georgia is a little more iffy but the signs are there. But for different reasons. In the case of Georgia it just is Atlanta outgrowing the rural population of the state. Like most southern urban areas, Atlanta has a high African American population as well as liberal whites (the suburbs, as elsewhere contain swing voters). While the Democratic wins are still yet to eventuate, they are coming tantalisingly close and it’s only a matter of time before we see this state starting to buck its deep south trend. Probably the biggest hurdle for Democrats in this state right now is the voter suppression of African Americans. Overcome that and Georgia is very winnable in future.

    The three caveats of course are that trends can change, as can parties and their support base. Secondly, other states like Wisconsin are trending the opposite way, offsetting these potential gains and that, if they start electing Democrats, said Democrats will, for now, be more in the conservative/centrist mold and not some liberal or socialist.

  13. Six months out from the election, and the early indications at the moment are that Joe Biden will become the 46th President. It’s not a done deal, of course, and much can change between now and November, but at this stage Biden seems far more likely than Trump.

    There’s a common view on both the Left and Right than Trump has some sort of idiot savant connection with swinging voters, and is particularly adept at negatively defining his opponents with a tweet one-liner. But personally I think this is quite over-stated. It should not be forgotten that the only reason the Trump is President at all is because a statistical quirk of the Electoral College – he lost the popular vote by a fair margin, and there have only been four previous occasions (in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000) when the leading vote-getter didn’t win, and each of the others were by a very narrow loss. If not for a few thousand voters across four states, it would (and frankly, should) be Hilary Clinton gearing up for re-election. In essence, Trump threaded the narrowest of needles in 2016, and it was always going to be long odds of him doing it again.

    This is before we factor in just how unpopular he is. For sure, about a third of voters think he can do no wrong, but his disapproval ratings have been above 50% for much of his time in office, and just about every electoral test since 2016 (the 2018 mid-terms, several gubernatorial elections, and numerous special elections for House and Senate) can be seen as a repudiation of Trump and the GOP (and even the GOP victories have been extraordinarily narrow). Given the narrowness of Trump’s victory coalition in 2016, he was always going to need to expand his voter pool to get re-elected, and as we know, he has made no effort whatsoever to do that. So long as the economy remained strong, Trump had a chance, but with his disastrous Covid crisis performance, along with the all-but-certain unsuing economic crash, that chance has now gone.

    The Electoral College also slightly favours the Democratic Party too, notwithstanding the 2016 upset. Biden can safely rely on 222 Electoral Votes (to wit, those of CA-55 EVs, CO-9, CT-7, DC-3, DE-3, HI-4, IL-20, MA-11, MD-10, ME-4*, MN-10, NJ-14, NM-5, NY-29, OR-7, RI-4, VA-13, VT-3, WA-12), while Trump is assured of 170 (AK-3, AL-9, AR-6, IA-6, ID-4, IN-11, KS-6, KY-8, MO-10, MS-6, MT-3, ND-3, NE-5*, OK-7, SC-9, SD-3, TN-11, TX-38, UT-6, WV-5, WY-3) (* Note that both Nebraska and Maine award EVs by Congressional District, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ve split them one each.)

    This leaves us with ten swing states, worth a total of 145 EVs (AZ-11, FL-29, GA-16, MI-16, NC-15, NH-4, NV-6, OH-18, PA-20, WI-10) which will decide the election. Polling has consistently put Biden well ahead in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona (a total of 47 EVs), which would put Biden on 270, and this in the White House. It’s also probably the case that Biden will also take New Hampshire and Nevada (another 10 EVs), and recent polling has him ahead (though admittedly not by much) in Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina (another 54 EVs), while Ohio and Georgia are certainly within range. When you also throw in a few wildcards like Iowa, Texas and Montana (due to popular ex-Governor Steve Bullock running for the Senate), it’s easy to see a landslide forming.

    My Electoral College prediction/ guess is Biden 334 v Trump 204.

  14. The Senate race also promises to be interesting in November. The current score is GOP 53 v Dem 47 (including two Lefty Independents). This means that the Democrats need a net gain of three, assuming that Biden also wins, and his Veep can be a the tie-breaker.

    It’s almost universally conceded that Doug Jones will not be able to repeat his upset win in ruby-Red Alabama, so we can probably put the score at 54-46 in reality, so the Democrats really need a net gain of four. There was also some talk that Gary Peters might be in some trouble in Michigan, but recent polling puts him comfortably ahead, and election-year turn-out should be enough for him to be returned in any event.

    There look to be five genuine pick-up chances for the Democrats, Arizona (with Mark Kelly leading incumbent Martha McSally in recent polling), Colorado (Cory Gardner in some trouble against popular former Governor John Hickenlooper in an increasingly Blue state), Maine (Susan Collins is facing the toughest test of her career), Montana (Steve Bullock’s entry for the Dems makes this a real chance), and North Carolina (Thom Tills might struggle in this battleground state in a Presidential year).

    In addition, there are six other possibles, any of which might just fall if the stars align just right – both Georgia elections (with a corruption stench affecting the Republican side in this battleground state), Iowa (will Trump’s trade war hurt Joni Ernst?), Kansas (a long shot, but possible if the Republicans go with Kris Kobach), Kentucky (Mitch McConnell has terrible approval ratings, but he knows all the tricks), and Texas (will the Lone Star state’s slowly shifting demographics claim John Cornyn?).

    My guess is that the Dems will win the required four (NC may be the one to miss) but probably no more than that. Still, if the main event turns into a rout (quite possible in my opinion), then we could see 53 or more Democratic Senators in the new Congress next January.

  15. Rational Leftist –

    It’s true that some states are trending this way or that, and in my view this is part of an overall realignment in US politics, the biggest since the late 60s. In that last realignment, the previously reliably Democratic South became solidly Republican (largely on race and cultural issues), while New England changed from a GOP heartland (home of the old-money Rockefeller Republicans) to a Democrat stronghold, and California switched to its current solid Blue affiliation.

    The demographics behind this are complex, but can be seen as the white working class slowly leaving the Democrats for the Republicans, while affluent and college-educated suburbanites headed the other way. African-Americans, who one hundred years ago voted for the party of Lincoln, are almost entirely Democratic, while Latinos (the fastest-growing segment of the US population) have been pushed that way by the increasingly nativist tone of the GOP rhetoric, though the 2/1 split possibly reflects that the more religious element of the Republicans is still a possible home for many of them.

    Over the last 30 years or so, the US electorate has been spilt between a solidly Republican South and lower mid-West, while the Democrats have had a stranglehold on New England and the upper east, the rust belt, and the west coast. In the last decade, we’ve seen those state coalitions start to splinter, with Obama winning Virginia (which has stayed increasingly Blue) and North Carolina, and Dems picking up the Arizona Senate seat and strengthening their hold on New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Meanwhile, in 2016 Trump picked up Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, while solidifying Ohio.

    Looking forward, it seems to be the case that the Rust Belt is trending Red, while the Sun Belt is going the other way. Thus we might see an Electoral College map in 2028 where Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona are increasingly Democratic, while Wisconsin (especially), Michigan and Pennsylvania are going the other way. That’s probably something of a wash in electoral terms, but if Texas goes the same way as its Southern and Western cousins in GA, AZ, NC, VA, CO & NM, then the GOP are in all sorts of trouble. There’s no way to a majority for them without Texas, but such are the perils of betting the electoral house on the declining demographics of angry old white men.

  16. Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster, said the landscape for his party had become far grimmer compared with the pre-virus plan to run almost singularly around the country’s prosperity.

    “With the economy in free-fall, Republicans face a very challenging environment, and it’s a total shift from where we were a few months ago,” Bolger said. “Democrats are angry, and now we have the foundation of the campaign yanked out from underneath us.”

    Trump’s advisers and allies have often blamed external events for his most self-destructive acts, such as his repeated outbursts during the two-year investigation into his campaign’s dealings with Russia. Now there is no such explanation — and, so far, there have been exceedingly few successful interventions regarding Trump’s behaviour at the podium.

  17. I am not sure anyone has worked out completely what 28 million unemployed is going to do to the US economy but I can suggest it is not going great. Also the Oil plunge is going really hurt employment in parts of America (and it is amazing how oil fields there are) which will be longer and more sustained that the waitresses who have been laid off.

  18. Oh and I forgot to mention in the USA low oil also means low corn prices…. as in very low corn prices as so much of it is used for ethanol production…… and they is likely to be hurting the most come the harvest in the fall. That will affect the mid West.

  19. I live in Dallas. Can’t see TX turning blue just yet though we are trending in the right direction. To see Biden down by just 5 here is definitely a positive sign for Democrats.

    Another good poll out today was from North Carolina which sees Biden up 50-45. That’s an 8.8 point swing from 2016. State polling is however notoriously fickle.

    What is more certain is that Trump simply cannot get any clear air at the moment. He’s constantly on the back foot allowing Biden, who’s not a good campaigner, to stay out of focus. As terrible a time as it is, the longer Trump has to play defensively the less likely he is to prevail in November.

  20. President Trump’s approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus dropped 10 points from last month after an initial bump, according to a new Emerson College poll.

    Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed approved of Trump’s efforts to tackle the outbreak, a drop from 49 percent last month.

    The poll, released Tuesday, found that 51 percent said they disapproved of the president’s handling of the virus, a jump from 41 percent in March.

    The president’s overall approval rating has ticked downward since last month, dropping from 46 percent to 41 percent.

    The drops come after Trump’s overall approval rating leapt to new highs before dropping back down to the low- to mid-40s range it had consistently been stuck in since 2017.

  21. Biden’s leads narrowly in several key states

    Several polling firms released surveys of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in April. Former President Barack Obama carried all four states in 2012. Trump flipped all four in 2016 (as well as Ohio and Iowa, neither of which has much recent polling.) And Biden appears to lead in all four now. (North Carolina, which has gone Republican in both of the last two cycles, was also polled pretty often in April, with Trump and Biden looking basically tied there.)

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