Amid the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic freeze, the 2020 presidential election cycle continues to churn forward. Though presidential politics are on the back burner for the most part, it's still interesting to track how voters may be thinking about the overshadowed race as it develops. On that front, I'll remind you of what I wrote last week regarding the 'rally around the flag' effect that is surely boosting President Trump's image at the moment. Despite the media's incessant negativity, Gallup's latest numbers show 60 percent of Americans approving of the president's handling of the crisis. Pew also shows positive movement. It's impossible to predict how public opinion will shift if and when the pandemic worsens, then eventually dissipates. But for the moment, the incumbent is enjoying a ratings bump:
Interesting snapshot: pic.twitter.com/5Veb4xjLrJ— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 29, 2020
The race is neck-and-neck, a statistical tie among registered voters nationally. If these numbers are generally accurate, one could extrapolate that Trump is in relatively strong position in key swing states, as well. As you can see, the president has a small edge on who is more trusted on the coronavirus response front, and is up double-digits on the economy. His overall job approval rating is now above water (49/47) in this series, which is a stark departure from his longstanding underwater status in most major polling, and he's actually gained ground on economic approval:
Earlier in the year, the economy was one of the president’s strongest assets in his reelection message, with growth continuing to rise and the stock market setting more records. That was before the coronavirus began to inflict severe damage on economic activity and stocks went into a tailspin, although markets rallied somewhat this past week. Nonetheless, the Post-ABC poll finds Trump’s approval rating for handling the economy has hit the highest point yet during his three-plus years in office, with 57 percent of Americans approving — up five points since February — and 38 percent disapproving. Nearly 4 in 10 “strongly approve” of his efforts on the economy.
This is fascinating, and I'm not sure what to make of it. The poll was in the field before Trump signed the $2 trillion relief package into law, which was likely a welcome development for most Americans. But can the president continue to excel on the economy if it remains effectively shut down for weeks on end? By the same token, even if he ends up sustaining a hit, will he then benefit from a large rebound when the economy (hopefully) comes roaring back? He's been chugging right along on this issue, but it's entirely conceivable that the ride could get bumpier. It will be very interesting to see how voters' credit/blame calculus evolves over time. These are also some data points to keep tabs on:
Keep an eye on this -->— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 29, 2020
"Among registered voters who support Trump, 55 percent say they are very enthusiastic about backing him ..."
"Among Biden’s supporters, a far smaller 28 percent say they are very enthusiastic ..."https://t.co/JytstVzWHo
The biggest stat of the new ABC/Washington Post poll: 15% of Bernie Sanders supporters choose Trump over Biden.— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 29, 2020
If this holds, Bernie Bros will once again get Trump elected because they are upset that they did not get their way in the primaries.
Will be interesting to watch...
Again, I think horse race polling is probably a little screwy in the midst of a public health crisis, but if that enthusiasm gap persists, it could be a real problem for Team Biden. And if Trump pulls in a double-digit chunk of Bernie supporters in the general, that could pose a real challenge for Democrats to win back the White House. I'll leave you with Biden graciously taking a pass on an overheated attack against Trump, with Nancy Pelosi being unable to resist the same temptation:
Chuck Todd: “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands considering the slow response?”— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 29, 2020
Biden: “I think that’s a little too harsh” pic.twitter.com/T0olK7Ctcu
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the President downplaying the severity of coronavirus is “deadly."— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 29, 2020
“As the President fiddles, people are dying. We just have to take every precaution.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/nZCmCB12jG
Also, here's New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio deflecting tough questions about his astoundingly wrong guidance to New Yorkers dispensed just a few weeks ago, as his city was on track to become the national epicenter of this disease:
Bill de Blasio is asked on CNN about comments he made as recently as two weeks ago urging New Yorkers to "go about their lives."— andrew kaczynski?? (@KFILE) March 29, 2020
De Blasio responded, "we should not be focusing, in my view, on anything looking back on any level of government right now."pic.twitter.com/x70LjKRygG
Will the "don't look backwards" standard be applied to Trump by Democrats? Zero chance.