On March 13, President Donald Trump’s approval rating sat at 42.3 percent, with 53.2 percent disapproving. From that point forward, with the wild circumstances and unprecedented changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought, Trump’s approval rating climbed.
First, it grew to 43 percent, then to 45 percent, then finally to 45.8 percent, with his disapproval rating actually dipping below 50 percent for the first time since March 15, 2017. It has leveled off since, indicating that the polling gain that Trump will experience from this pandemic is around three percentage points.
And of course, that sounds like a good thing. His approval rating is the highest it’s been since January 25, 2017; what’s bad about that?
Well, a lot of things.
There’s a principle in political polling called the “rally around the flag” effect: the principle that in times of trial, people will support the president. However, a defining aspect of this effect is that the ramifications only last in the short term; sooner rather than later, the approval rating will drop again.
Another aspect is that the lower the approval rating, the bigger the effect will be. Take George W. Bush after 9/11; in five days, Bush’s approval rating jumped from 51.2 percent to 82.6 percent, and over the next 700 days, the gains were erased.
Likewise, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy’s approval rating — already at 61 percent — rose to 74 percent, before slowly declining back to the 61 percent baseline.
The argument is this: Given the demonstrated “rally around the flag” effect in the modern history of American presidents, you would expect Trump to experience a gain of more than three points. Given that the gain is so low, it does not bode well for Trump’s future polling, should Americans react negatively to his handling of the crisis.
It should be noted that we are living in a different political world than just twenty years ago. The partisan boundaries are bigger now than ever before, and Trump’s approval/disapproval rating has barely budged over the last three and a half years.
So, let’s take a more modern example. In May of 2011, Barack Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden, an accomplishment that many think played a large role in his re-election a year later. His approval rating jumped from 45.2 percent to 51.3 percent, a six-point increase.
That could indicate that in modern politics, the rally around the flag effect is minimized by partisan leanings. But it can also be argued that the COVID-19 pandemic will have sweeping and dramatic changes on American life, as it already has, and that will tear down some party borders and hurt Trump.
The economy is one consideration; with economists quoted in The New York Times saying that 2008 was only a dry run in preparation for this, the news won’t be good for the commander in chief should this shutdown continue into May.
Despite what the news may indicate, many people still don’t know anyone affected by the virus; when that changes and friends and family start dying arguably because of inaction out of the Oval Office, the conversation will change.
This pandemic has also largely been limited to blue states so far, with the ground zero of COVID-19 being New York State, New Jersey, Washington State and California. When that shifts to southern states, whose governors were (and are) delayed in their social distancing measures, the conversation will change to hurt the president.
While many are seeing the jump in Trump’s approval rating as a real and lasting rise, the facts indicate that this is only temporary and could be trivial compared to the drop in approval rating that could come, should this pandemic proceed as expected.
Read More 990WBOB
Unbiased, Unfiltered. WBOB's Original Reads feature our brightest and boldest personalities, offering their two-cents on the goings on of news, sports, politics, entertainment, and business. -- Are our opinions always PC? Nope. Are they always perfect? Nah. But, are they always 100% authentic? Absolutely!