Thus far, the year 2020 has been shaping up to be an unmitigated disaster by any measure. Add in the fact that this is a presidential election cycle, and it is reasonable to suppose any incumbent president would be standing at the gates of political hell. The advocacy media have analyzed the current polling and come to the inexorable conclusion that the good ship Trump has run into an iceberg, and the Carpathia awaits nearby to pick up survivors. But such is not the case – at all.
A closer look at the polls, and it is evident that President Donald Trump is demonstrating remarkable resilience and, with a Reaganesque flair, has nothing dark and oily sticking to him. One should rightly wonder if Trump is Teflon President 2.0.
The COVID-19 crisis, an economy said to be in shambles (though the job numbers and stock markets belie this), and a nation mired in an upheaval of civil unrest, as if C-4 were buried beneath the streets of its cities, should be sending President Trump’s poll numbers spiraling into the abyss. But so far, there has been barely a blip in the president’s popularity with his stalwart base. That very same foundation is the one he kicked some Clinton derriere with just a few short years ago and appears cast in cement.
Numbers, Numbers Everywhere
In examining the numbers, we turn to an exceptionally reliable source – the presidential daily tracking poll. There was a time when most pollsters pooh-poohed the daily tracking poll. Then came 2016. The USC/L.A. Times Daybreak tracking poll was an outlier for sure, but when it was time to put the cards on the table, it came up with aces by calling the Clinton/Trump match-up correctly. The difference was in methodology. Each day the pollsters asked likely voters to “estimate, on a scale of 0 to 100, how likely they are to vote for each candidate.” This revealed the underlying strength of those polled as if they were weighting themselves.
The L.A. Times even admits taking heat for its prediction of a Trump win. “The poll’s findings caused dismay – even outrage – among some readers, especially Democrats, who have denounced it and often criticized The Times for running it,” the paper’s Washington bureau chief wrote in the wee hours of Nov. 8, 2016 – once the fat lady had sung. In the end, “the poll’s final forecast for the election showed Trump leading by a little over 3 points, 46.8% to 43.6%.”
Since the moment Trump was elected until this very day, Rasmussen Reports has been tracking Trump’s favorability/job approval with the voting public. Before we get to the good part – the results – here is a brief synopsis of its methodology:
“Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.”
As Randolph Duke once intoned to his brother Mortimer, “Now tell him the good part.” Well, the good part is that the president’s total approval has not moved all that much in the last three years. His high point came just five days after the inauguration. On Jan. 25, 2017, Trump’s total approval was 57%. As of June 8, 2020, Trump’s total support stands at 47%. In between these two time periods – and for much of the Trump era – the president’s total approval numbers have hovered in the high 40s. Never once in the president’s entire tenure on the political stage has his total support dipped into the 30s.
Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides tapped into this reality recently when he wrote:
“The nation has spent three years living in a state of hypertension. The now-debunked Russiagate saw voters convinced that a foreign power was working hand in hand with Donald Trump, then there was the Stormy Daniels scandal (headed by the now-convicted Michael Avenatti), then came the impeachment, closely followed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Finally, we have riots on the streets and calls to abolish the police force. Only one thing has remained constant throughout this turmoil: President Trump’s approval ratings.”
These surprisingly stable numbers come despite a year that “already ranks as Annus Horribilis in Extremis,” as noted by LN’s Pennel Bird, and are a political tell of favorable things in the offing for the president. It adds up to the simple fact that the president’s base is rock solid.
While this writer does not purport to be a professional pollster and would love nothing more than to sit down with someone like Kellyanne Conway, there are a few takeaways from these numbers. First, neither Joe Biden nor anyone else the Democrats have run up their flagpole appeals even a smidgen to the Trump voter. Second, neither rain, nor sleet, nor civil unrest, nor a virus that shut down the country has altered the opinion of the average Trump supporter. And, third, there appears nothing in the offing in the next six months that is likely to get the Trump people to stop playing that old Tammy Wynette tune that got Hillary in so much hot water.
The term Teflon president was first coined by Colorado Democrat Pat Schroeder in 1983 in reference to The Gipper. She meant it as a derogatory remark. “He has been perfecting the Teflon-coated presidency: He sees to it that nothing sticks to him.” Since the Reagan era, Teflon, or PTFE, as it is called by its manufacturer, DuPont, has undergone many changes. Health concerns were put to rest when a chemical was removed from its manufacturing process. Now all that remains is a tried-and-true skillet that is a must for every kitchen in America. And so, though tested by fire, it appears President Trump is still someone Americans are willing to stick with; while he may be Teflon-coated, his supporters appear to be cast iron.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.