Trump May Be Down, but He’s Not Out. At Least Not Yet.
Published in The Washington Post
on June 10, 2020
President Trump’s poll numbers are down and dropping, leading many pundits to speculate that he’s finally out. He’s not. But he soon will be if he doesn’t change course.
The decline is real and sharp. Trump’s job approval rating on the RealClearPolitics average has dropped from his high-water mark of 47.4 percent on April 1 to a mere 42.2 percent as of Wednesday morning. His standing in head-to-head matchups against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has also decayed. He was only 4.4 percentage points behind Biden in early May; now he trails by 8.1 percentage points. If these numbers hold until Election Day, Trump and the Republicans will get clobbered.
Conventional analysis would say that Trump’s goose is probably cooked. Presidents who polled this poorly less than five months before Election Day have always lost. The continuing furor over George Floyd’s killing is not helping him, and the economy remains mired in a deep recession despite the comparatively fabulous May jobs report. Biden remains off the stump, preventing him from committing the unforced errors for which the former vice president is famous. The lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic is also impeding Trump’s ability to campaign. Put all of the factors together, and Biden looks like a shoo-in.
That, however, would be too hasty.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.