Trump has never been very popular, but how will the Americans (and Biden) be seen now?


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On a very simple level, one of the big reasons President Trump lost his re-election is that he was not very popular. On Nov. 5, his position was just 44.6 percent, with a negative rating of 52.6 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight presidential approval average. This -8.1-point net approval rating was the third lowest among the most recent president on the day he was elected to the second term. (Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush were the only two other presidents to enter election day with a lower net approval rating or a higher rejection rating than Trumpé.) Namely, all three lost.

Unpopular presidents usually lose elections

Average approval and rejection of recent presidents on election day of the year they ran for another term

President Year Did you win the election? Approval Disapproval Net
Lyndon B. Johnson * 1964 74.0% 15.0% +59.0
Dwight D. Eisenhower 1956 67.9 19.1 +48.8
Richard Nixon 1972 61.3 28.6 +32.7
Ronald Reagan 1984 57.9 33.0 +24.9
Bill Clinton 1996 54.6 38.6 +16.0
Barack Obama 2012 49.5 47.1 +2.4
Gerald Ford * 1976 43.6 41.3 +2.3
George W. Bush 2004 48.4 47.5 +0.9
Harry S. Truman * 1948 39.6 45.5 -5.9
Donald Trump 2020 44.6 52.6 -8.1
Jimmy Carter 1980 37.9 54.8 -16.9
George HW Bush 1992 32.6 55.5 -22.9

* Joined the Presidency at mid-term.

Source: Voting time

Part of this can be traced back to a well-documented link between the president’s approval rating and his ability to win new elections. Extremely popular presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan went for a second term, while divisive but still popular like George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the squeaks. In fact, the only recent president to lose his bid for a second term with a positive net approval rating was Gerald Ford in 1976. (Still, it had a rather weak approval rating – just 43.6 percent, lower than Trump’s on election day) 2020. A relatively high proportion of Americans had no opinion on it, which could have made it easier for their opponent, Carter, to win. S. Truman in 1948 – the election was still considered one of the most shocking disturbances of all time.

Nevertheless, the president’s approval rating is hardly the last word. The election is, after all, the election of two (at least) candidates. But in the case of 2020, it seems that the president-elect, Biden, was indeed more popular than Trump, at least according to Biden’s favoritism rating. (Favorability and approval ratings do not all the way the same, but they are close enough to each other.) And according to average favoritism surveys conducted the week before election day, Biden had a 51.0 percent and 43.9 percent favor rating, with a net favor rating of +7.0 points. . Meanwhile, Trump’s average net favorable rating in the same polls (-10.8 points, or 43.1 percent better, compared to 53.9 percent unfavorable) was slightly worse than its net approval rating.

The Americans looked at Biden quite favorably

Polls on Joe Biden’s favorable and unfavorable ratings were made up to a week before election day

Dates Public opinion researcher Fav. Unfav. Net
November 2-3 McLaughlin & Associates 52% 45% +7
October 31-Nov. 2 YouGov / The Economist 51 48 +3
October 29-Nov. 1 Legger 47 45 +2
October 29-Nov. 1 Change Research / CNBC 50 44. +5
October 28-Nov 1 Quinnipiac University 49 42 +7
October 29-31 Morning Consult 52 46 +6
October 29-31 NBC News / The Wall Street Journal 45 42 +3
October 27-29 Fox news 55 44. +11
October 27-29 Gravis Marketing 59 38 +21
October 27-28 Harris / Harvard 50 45 +5
Average 51.0 43.9 +7.0

When a poll yielded a favorable number among multiple populations, we used the group most willing to vote — for example, we preferred samples of probable voters over samples of registered voters. Morning Consult uses only the last iteration of the trace vote.

Source: Voting time

As the election essentially becomes a popularity contest, the fact that Biden liked it better than Trump on election day probably helped him win where Hillary Clinton (who was as unpopular as Trump in 2016) lost. It may have been easier for Biden to win voters who had a low opinion of Trump, simply because fewer had a low opinion of him — a problem that plagued Clinton.

What can happen to the popularity of Trump and Biden from here? Historically, the new presidents have experienced a honeymoon phase where they are more liked shortly after winning the election and taking office. According to a couple of new polls, Biden could have already started. According to a Gallup survey of U.S. adults this week, Biden’s favorable rating is now 55 percent – 6 points higher than it was at the end of October, and the highest since the survey since announcing his run for president. And last week’s Morning Consult / Politico poll gave Biden a 57 percent better rating and a 41 percent negative rating among registered voters – a huge improvement over the +6-point net discount in the latest pre-election poll at the end of October.

However, not all pollsters take this up. Biden’s net favor rating is just +2 points among registered voters in last week’s YouGov / The Economist poll, which has barely changed since the last pre-election poll. Harris / Harvard scored +6 points in the net preference rating of registered voters the week before Thanksgiving, essentially the same as what was found just before the election. So we need more data before we can safely state that Biden’s honeymoon is underway — especially that honeymoon periods are becoming increasingly difficult to grasp in an age of high partisanship.

As for Trump, presidents often become more popular after they leave office and people start looking through their pink glasses. It is too early to tell if this will happen to Trump; its approval grade, which has been in the 44-45 percent range since November 3, now approves the result of most of its work. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, especially if it reappears for the presidential election in 2024.

Other polls

  • With the promise of a coronavirus vaccine finally on the horizon, a new SurveyMonkey / Fortune survey found that 40 percent of U.S. adults want the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. However, a further 39 per cent said they wanted to wait a while before obtaining it, and 19 per cent said they never wanted to be vaccinated. Republicans (30 percent) and Black Americans (25 percent) in particular said they refused vaccination.
  • In Ipsos ’latest coronavirus survey, conducted two days before Thanksgiving, 62 percent of Americans said they would cancel their typical holiday travel plan, and 66 percent said they would buy more digitally at holiday fairs this year.
  • At FiveThirtyEight, we were glued to the election results when they came in about a month ago and it turned out we weren’t alone. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans say they followed the election results “almost continuously”, while another 34 percent “ran up quite often.” Twenty-two percent said they “logged in occasionally,” while only 7 percent were “fully tuned”.
  • According to a November 17-19 poll by Harris X / The Hill, 60 percent of registered voters are in favor of Biden eliminating $ 50,000 in student debt per capita – as reported by prominent Senate Democrats in the Senate through an executive order.
  • According to a new poll by Research Co., Americans disagree, by 58 to 33 percent, proposing that the federal election age be reduced to 16 years. However, they agree with 64 per cent to 27 per cent of legal permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) voting.
  • While 2020 is a year that few are happy to remember, Americans are at least optimistic that 2021 will be better. According to a recent YouGov survey, 48 percent of adults believe that 2021 will personally be a better year for them than in 2020; 28 percent say it will be about the same, and only 9 percent think it will be worse.

Trump’s approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 43.6 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s presidency, while 52.8 percent disagree (net approval rating -9.2 points). Last week, 44.1 percent did not accept it, while 52.6 percent did not accept it (net approval rating -8.5 points). A month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 44.6 percent and a negative rating of 52.6 percent, with a net approval rating of -8.1 points.