A little over a month ago, we highlighted a Gallup poll showing President Trump's job approval on the economy bouncing to an all-time high of 56 percent. Though his overall ratings were (and remain) substantially lower -- which is undoubtedly a major strike against his re-election prospects -- a clear majority of voters have been pleased with his handling of an extremely important issue. That Gallup numbers came out in early March. As we approach mid-April, NBC reports on a fresh 'battleground' poll that mirrors the same result, perhaps with a slight improvement:
Poll: 58 percent of voters approve of President Trump's handling of the economy - NBC News https://t.co/P028RF9RSb— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) April 10, 2019
Voters’ attitudes about the economy will be the driving force in the next presidential election, according to the first Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service “Battleground Poll” of the 2020 cycle...While President Trump’s overall unfavorable rating has remained steady at 55 percent since he announced his candidacy in 2015, 58 percent of voters approve of the job he has done on the economy...Gender will play a role in 2020, with men saying they'll vote Republican by a 9-point margin while women say they'll vote Democratic by an 18-point margin on a generic Congressional ballot. This gender gap has been mainly caused by a decline in support for Republicans among married white women and white women overall. On the issue of the economy, however, President Trump still has a 58 percent approval from white women and a 63 percent approval from married white women.
A lot of people who think Trump is presiding over a strong economy (approximately seven-in-ten voters say the US economy is in good shape) still disapprove of his presidency. If he wants to be a two-termer, Trump must convince more of these people that handing the keys over to the opposition party would put important gains and prosperity in jeopardy. As usual, the president would help himself by cleaning up his act and restraining his pro-chaos impulses, which may be a quixotic hope. Nevertheless, a modicum of discipline and statesmanship might go a long way toward bringing skeptical voters back into the mix, especially women. If a Trump-led GOP ticket loses the gender gap by nine net points, Democrats are nearly a lock to take back the White House in 2021. The booming economy is Trump's strongest asset by far at the moment, but his team should be wary of public worries over a downturn; the NBC story above also notes that 59 percent of voters are at least somewhat worried about that possibility. Our overall economic health is pretty robust, and the last jobs report was largely encouraging again, but a few troubling signs exist.
Another factor that might help the president and his party is if voters were better informed about the positive impacts of their signature legislative accomplishment. We've addressed the Democrats' lies about tax reform, often aided or ignored by the media, on several occasions. Polling continues to show that only a fraction of voters believe their tax bill was reduced under the new law, even though it slashed taxes for 80 percent of voters in 2018, with only about five percent seeing a net increase. One leftist blogger openly celebrated the success of his side's dishonest propaganda:
Nobody likes to give themselves credit for this kind of messaging success, but progressive groups did a really good job of convincing people that Trump raised their taxes when the facts say a clear majority got a tax cut. https://t.co/tcZFr8l9Ck— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 8, 2019
Actually, the tax law isn't "so unpopular," despite Harwood's fondest hopes, but it should be much more popular than it is. By a double-digit margin, more Americans falsely believe their taxes went up versus down under the law. Worse, just one-third of Republican voters think their tax burden decreased. Allahpundit snarks, "perhaps a few less presidential 'WITCH HUNT!' tweets and a few more touting the numbers on ower taxes might have improved public opinion." Ain't that the truth. Depending on the poll, tax reform is just above, or just below break-even on public support. Imagine if Trump banged the drum on the 100 percent true stats about who got tax cuts. At the very least, these numbers among GOP voters and probably a fair number of independents would tick up, even if Democratic partisans are invested in believing the opposite of empirical reality. The good news is that the law is in much better shape than it was while it was being debated, and Trump's strong economic approval numbers suggest that people understand that his policies are working. Never stop selling. I'll leave you with Mitch McConnell doing his darndest to remind people of the truth on tax reform, with tax day looming.