Published June 17, 2019
President Trump will officially announce that he’s running for reelection at a massive rally in Orlando on Tuesday. The early line on his chances: He’s not the favorite, but he’s far from down and out.
The leak of unfavorable reelection numbers from Trump’s own internal polling, which show him behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden in many key swing states, has triggered a rush to judgment among many analysts. While carefully acknowledging things could change, they note that Trump’s job approval rating has been negative through most of his presidency and that he trails most prospective Democratic nominees in the key Midwestern swing states he needs to win. The conclusion is easy to draw: Trump’s probably a goner, despite the strong economy.
It’s true that Trump has been historically unpopular during his tenure. While other presidents have won reelection with similarly low job approval ratings, they all have been in positive territory at some point during their presidency. What’s more, the past two incumbents who ran for reelection, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both received a share of the popular vote that was extremely similar to their job approval rating right before Election Day. Trump has never polled above 44 percent job approval for any extended stretch of his presidency. Unless that improves a lot, he’s not going to win the popular vote.