Given that pattern, it’s significant that Trump is not getting the political benefit of the broad satisfaction Gallup found. My conclusion is that Biden and the media have succeeded in making the campaign a referendum on Trump, especially his personality and handling of the coronavirus, while the president and his team have failed to make the election a choice between his policies and Biden’s.

The difference is enormous. A referendum on Trump becomes an up-or-down vote on him, which puts a heavy focus on his personal quirks and conduct more than his policies. Many polls, including some conducted for Republicans, found significant numbers of potential swing voters don’t like the president’s tweetstorms and his endless brawling, much of which they believe has nothing to do with their welfare.

That was true of surveys conducted for some GOP Senate incumbents in swing states, which showed the president less popular than the incumbents in those states.

That, in a nutshell, explains how people can say they are better off under Trump yet still say they are supporting Biden.