What is the point: We have five more months until the general election, which, in theory, is enough time to race for a change of president. Indeed, the choice of choice for horses has sometimes shifted considerably between this point and Election Day.
However, the presidential assessment of approval has historically not shifted much from the June election year to Election Day.
It seems likely at this point that Trump’s rating will approve the south of 50%, and his net rating (approval – disapproval) will be negative when people vote. This should be of deep concern to Trump, given the strong link between approval ratings and chances of re-election.
The average president from now until the election records a shift in the rating of only 3 points. That would have put Trump at his best only in the mid-40s. Trump’s approval rating was similar during the 2018 semester, when his party lost control of the House.
Net approval ratings tell the same story. The average president had a net shift in the approval rating by just 6 points from this point forward. Given that Trump’s net approval rating is negative in his low to mid-teens, a 6-point improvement would accrue a net approval of about -7 to -10 points on election day. Again, that’s roughly where he was during the 2018 halftime.
Trump, however, is not over yet. It is possible that the president’s assessments will change. In the last five months of the 1948 campaign, Harry Truman rose 20 points in the net approval rating. On the other hand, Lyndon Johnson’s net approval rating fell by about 15 points in the final months of the 1964 election.
Still, we’re only talking about two of the 13 presidents whose net score was approved by more than 10 points in the last five months of the campaign. One of the two went in the wrong direction for president. Trump needs his net approval rating to climb more than 10 points to achieve a positive net approval rating.
Can Trump be one of the 20%? Obviously. Do not round 20% to 0%.
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