For all the disorder and uncertainty from the pandemic and our summer of racial discontent, Biden’s victory will be the result of long-established truths about American politics. To borrow from Paine’s most famous work, it will be a case of common sense.
It is common sense that a president running for reelection will be judged on whether he handled the job well enough to deserve another chance; reelections are always referendums on the president. It is common sense that a president deemed to have failed his biggest challenges will have lost his fellow citizens’ trust. President Trump has failed both tests in the eyes of the American people and will lose as a result.
Trump’s job approval ratings show this. Historically, presidents who run for reelection receive a share of the popular vote that is remarkably close to their final job approval rating. The RealClearPolitics polling average has tracked Trump’s job approval throughout his presidency. He is the first president to have never received a 50 percent rating; indeed, he has never come close. Trump’s highest marks came this year between March 26 and April 2, when he topped 47 percent. As of Sunday morning, his job approval stood at 45 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. Given that there won’t be as much third-party voting this time around, that just won’t be good enough to win.