While COVID-19 cases are on the rise, particularly in the states that Donald Trump needs the most, and we continue to hear about cases of police brutality while his administration refuses to even acknowledge the existence of systemic racism, you may wonder why Trump is more concerned about his polls than anything else. After all, it’s the only thing his campaign has really taken any action on, while everything else is just something for him to rant about on Twitter.
The simplest and most obvious answer is that he’s a narcissist who can’t stand when he has no control over how he looks – even if he could make decisions that could change his favorability rating. His supporters may argue that it doesn’t matter what he does, the media will still find reasons not to like him, which is a poor argument to get anyone who’s on the fence to support Donald Trump.
Historically, however, there’s good reason for Donald Trump to be anxious about his poll numbers. Gallup currently has him at 39% approval, while his disapproval ratings have been at their highest levels since last year’s government shutdown. This is only one poll of course, but it’s consistent with his average approval ratings and even the more conservative polls have numbers that aren’t much better.
The other problem is that the Gallup poll ratings in June tend to be fairly reflective of the election’s outcome. In every election since 1940, after modern polling began, the average president has seen their approval rating shift by just 3 points between June and Election Day. A lot can happen between now and November, of course, but following this pattern puts Donald Trump where he was in the polls just before the 2018 midterms when Republicans lost the House.
Trump would need 10 points just to reach a positive net approval rating, something that puts him in a weaker position than any modern president seeking re-election. So he is right to be anxious, but this can only happen if we vote and vote in record numbers to take back the White House and Congress on November 3.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making