President Donald Trump is enjoying a surge in his approval rating and oddsmakers have upgraded his chances of being re-elected to even.
My own views on how Trump has handled the COVID-19 crisis aside, his ratings have risen in many polls.
You can decide for yourself whether this reflects an abiding belief that he is handling the crisis well, or is something more like a reflexive rally-round-the-leader impulse.
The FiveThirtyEight.com average of many approval polls, on which I have relied, indicates that present Trump disapprovers still outnumber Trump approvers by 6.1 percentage points at 50.7 disapproval/44.6 approval, but this 6.1 negative gap is noticeably smaller than the 8-10 points “under water” situation that has shown up in approval polls during most his term.
If I were more like Trump, I would ignore this development, but I am committed to leveling with those who are good enough to read some of what I scribble.
In fact, I’ll go one small gesture further. Gallup, which no longer polls daily on Trump’s approval, just released the most recent of their occasional samplings on that topic and came up with a sample over the weekend that showed Trump’s approvers outnumbering his disapprovers by 49-45 percent.
I rely more on the 538 number, which includes many polls and therefore a larger number of respondents are pooled together, but Gallup is also a legend in polling and shows a more dramatic improvement in his approval/disapproval picture so, in the interests of intellectual honesty, I am going out of my way to acknowledge that not only does the 538 average of many polls show him improving, at least one reputable pollster shows him “above water.”
As far as the upgrade in Trump’s odds, here’s one on-line sports-betting site that ranks Trump vs. Joe Biden as an even money bet. Over recent weeks, most odds-makers have rated Biden the favorite.
After writing this piece, I read a similar piece, adorably headlined “Trump gets a bump,” by Lisa Lerer of The New York Times. Like me, she was cautious about assuming that Trump’s bump in the most recent approval ratings was the new normal, or that it wasn’t. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from her musings on the topic:
The president’s critics are also eager to play down his rising numbers as simply the norm in times of crisis. They have a point: Historically, polling shows a rallying effect behind a president during national challenges.
“Most presidents get a bump when there’s a national crisis,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster. “While I think many of us would argue his handling of this crisis has been insufficient and inconsistent, when people started to tune in to the severity of the epidemic was when he started sounding more serious.”