Crisis Surge: Trump Hits New Highs in WaPo/ABC News Poll

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Posted: Mar 30, 2020 10:30 AM
Crisis Surge: Trump Hits New Highs in WaPo/ABC News Poll

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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:

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:

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:

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:

Will the "don't look backwards" standard be applied to Trump by Democrats? Zero chance.