If you’re one of the 12% of adults who get their political news off of Twitter, you might think that the coronavirus pandemic is the end of President Donald Trump’s political career. He seems to be getting slammed left and right on the platform (and in the media more generally) for his response.
But while the President’s position for reelection is perilous and could worsen, Trump’s been weathering the coronavirus pandemic decently in the polls so far.
I looked at all the pollsters who conducted multiple polls in March among registered voters. I broke down the month into 8-day periods.
Here’s what Trump’s net approval (approval – disapproval) averaged in each of those periods:
- March 1-8: -8.6 points
- March 9-16: -9.0 points
- March 17-24: -7.7 points
The differences across these periods are statistically insignificant. If anything, you could argue that the President’s standing is slightly up overall.
That was certainly the finding of the highest quality poll taken in the last week. Monmouth University found that Trump’s net approval rating among adults was -2 points and even among voters. Both of those ratings are not only up from the last few Monmouth polls, but are also the highest Trump’s ever been in a Monmouth poll.
We do need to see more high quality polling to confirm how much of what Monmouth is indicating is real or if it’s just statistical noise.
Still, it’s pretty clear why Trump’s position is steady: Plenty of Americans are approving of the job he’s doing handling the coronavirus pandemic. In the Monmouth poll, 51% of voters say Trump is doing a good job dealing with it. This echoes an Ipsos poll from last week that showed 55% approved of the job Trump was doing regarding the outbreak.
Moreover, Trump received higher marks in Ipsos’ most recent survey than their prior poll, which matched other polls indicating that early reviews of Trump’s coronavirus performance were relatively poor.
Of course, these aren’t great ratings for a president leading the country through a crisis. George W. Bush had a 40-point rise in his approval rating after 9/11. Trump’s up maybe 1/20 of that. In the Monmouth poll, Americans are giving their governors as a group a much higher rating than Trump when it comes to handling the pandemic.
Additionally, we’re just a few weeks into this crisis. A lot of things will continue to change.
What we can say is that the polling trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic does not seem to be on par with other events that moved the polls in the Trump era. During last year’s government shutdown, we were already beginning to see Trump’s rating begin to fall by this point.
Perhaps the biggest question will, however, remain unanswered for a while: if the effect of any economic downturn will register in the polls. Even shifts in the economy haven’t moved Trump’s numbers greatly during his presidency.
For now, Trump remains where he’s been for much of the last two years: an unpopular president who still has a lot of Americans who like him.