A sequel to last night’s post, one which strengthens the case that Trump has never been more popular as president than he is right now.
There’s little doubt who would win the election if it were held today:
He’s reached a new milestone in the RCP average too, thanks to this Gallup data. Although his approval is steady at 46.0, tied for the highest of his presidency, his disapproval has dropped below 51 percent for the first time since April 22, 2017.
RCP’s elections expert, Sean Trende, has been fielding complaints about the new numbers from anti-Trumpers, who suspect that “differential response” is behind Trump’s apparently rising approval. That’s a fancy term for the idea that Republicans might simply be more willing to take a survey lately when a pollster calls than they usually are. When there’s bad news for Trump in the papers, some might hang up. When there’s good news for Trump in the papers — acquitted at trial, well-received SOTU, economy booming — some might take the poll. If that’s what’s happening here then the public at large isn’t really warming up to Trump, it’s just that more of his fans are willing to chatter to statisticians about their support.
Trende doesn’t think that’s what’s happening here. He believes the Trump surge is real, pointing to the length of the timeline over which it’s been happening:
Likewise, the decline in his job approval from 2/17-8/17 is probably "real," as was his improvement from 12/17-3/18. The other thing is that in most cases, the DA explanation is pretty straightforward — after a convention ppl are tuned in, and really fired up about their party.
— Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) February 20, 2020
Even if the surge is due to “differential response,” that’s not bad news for him and the GOP. More enthusiasm in talking to pollsters about your candidate also likely means more enthusiasm in turning out to vote for him. Whatever the real reason is for his rising popularity, it only improves his chances of victory this fall.
One thought that didn’t occur to me while writing last night’s post but which occurs to me now: Is Trump benefiting from the increasingly messy, depressing Democratic primary? Or at least from the increasingly likely prospect of a Bernie Sanders nomination? He creates enough of his own chaos that the other party’s chaos shouldn’t make him look great by comparison, but he certainly might benefit from the contrast with an avowed socialist. Maybe Berniemania on the left is creating … not “Trumpmania,” exactly, but enough contempt for the Democratic nominee among centrists to push Trump-skeptical voters into the Trump-neutral column.