The story goes that Trump's low approval rating is unlikely to move

The story goes that Trump’s low approval rating is unlikely to move

What is the point: We still have five months until the general election, which, in theory, has enough time to change the race for the presidency. Indeed, horse racing has sometimes changed significantly between this point and Election Day.

However, presidential ratings have not moved historically since June one election year on Election Day.

It seems very likely at this point that Trump’s approval rating will be south of 50% and the net approval rating (approval-rejection) will be negative when people vote. This should be very worrying for Trump, given the strong link between approval ratings and possible re-elections.

There have been 13 other presidential candidates since the election (1940). For each of these presidents, I compared Gallup’s average (or, in the case of 1944, the Office of Public Opinion Research) June approval rating and their own estimated approval rating on election day.

The average president has seen his score change by just 3 points from now until the election. That would only hurt Trump in the mid-1940s. Trump’s approval rating was similar during 2018, when his party lost control of the House.

Pure approval ratings tell the same story. The average president had a clear approval rating of 6 points from this point forward. Given that Trump’s net approval rating is at a negative low until mid-adolescence, a 6-point improvement would get him with a clear approval of about -7 to -10 points on Election Day. Again, that’s where it was during mid-term 2018.

See the 2020 presidential election

Trump, however, is not over yet. It is possible that a president’s scores will change. Harry Truman saw a 20-point increase in the net approval rating during the last five months of the 1948 campaign. On the other hand, Lyndon Johnson’s net approval rating dropped by about 15 points in the last months of the 1964 election.

Still, we are talking only about two of the 13 presidents, whose net approval rating has increased by more than 10 points in the last five months of the campaign. One of them went in the wrong direction for the president. Trump needs a clear approval rating to rise above 10 points to reach a positive approval rating.

Trump’s fate against former Vice President Joe Biden will not be completely correlated with his approval rating, but it will be very much related. In our last CNN / SSRS poll, more than 90% of Trump’s supporters said they would vote for Trump. More than 90% of deniers said they would vote for Biden.
A previous estimate from FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver suggested that a president with a 40% approval rating before the June election had only about a 20% chance of winning the upcoming election. This is largely jibes with more refined models taking into account a number of indicators.

Can Trump be one of the 20%? Obviously. Do not round 20% to 0%.

Remember, however, that Trump’s approval rating it was more stable by any president before him. There is no strong reason to believe that it will get more than the average boost in its approval rating and therefore its chances of re-election.
Trump’s inability to move his numbers is probably the reason he follows Biden so much. Biden is less determined than Trump, and dragging Biden may be Trump’s only chance.

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