When it comes right down to it, becoming a politician is nothing more than a popularity contest: The one with the most votes wins. Once that person is elected to a position of power, things get a bit dicier, so pollsters have a favorability rating metric. This assesses the popularity of a political leader. It does not necessarily mean an unfavorable rating will boot someone out of office because elections are localized, and favorability ratings are nationwide. But it is an indicator of what people think of a particular man or woman in power.
Dozens of pollsters daily track the favorability of a president. The politician’s staff closely watches this information and lets him know if he is perceived as doing well or poorly. These tracking polls are often compared to those of previous presidents over the same period. For example, on April 25, the Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll found “42% of Likely U.S. voters approve of President Biden’s performance. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disapprove.” However, on this same day in the Trump presidency, 45 was viewed more favorably at 48%. Such a straightforward assessment of a politician’s performance is significant.
Gasping for Air
Would it surprise you that all political leaders currently tracked and averaged are underwater and gasping for air? Let’s begin with the big man on campus: Joe Biden. A recent NBC poll has the president at 46% unfavorability among those surveyed — the bad news for Biden is that this was his most positive result. At the other extreme, Fox News brings Biden in at 56% unfavorability. When finding the difference between those who approve and disapprove, the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average is a startling -8.8.
However, Biden should be thanking his lucky stars he is not Kamala Harris. Averaged out, the surveys say the vice president is worse off than her boss with a rating of -11.3 between those who appreciate her work and those who don’t. The VP unfavorability ranges from a merely worrying 48% from Susquehanna pollsters to a potentially career-ending 56% from Rasmussen.
Next up is the woman conservative Americans love to hate: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Apparently, they are not the only ones who don’t think she’s doing a good job. The representative from the Golden State comes in with an unfavorable RCP disparity of -20.8.
Next on the hit list is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Believe it or not, he is downright popular compared to Pelosi. He posts an RCP score of -12.4.
But the granddaddy of unpopular political leaders is – drum roll – Kentucky’s favorite son. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) needs to make some friends because his difference between those who approve and disapprove comes in at a whopping -31.5.
Although he’s officially not running for anything, the favorability factor of former President Donald Trump is being assessed by the nation’s pollsters. Lo and behold, Trump’s unfavorable average comes in far less severe than any of the others by a respectable margin. The 45th president’s RCP spread stands at just -4.6. However, Trump appears to have the widest swing of those polled, with 56% unfavorability from Politico to Emerson at 39%. An interesting side note is that Trump received a 54% unfavorable rating from Fox News.
So, what do all these numbers tell us? First, the American public does not appear to be happy with any of its current leaders, but, of those polled, Trump bests the pack. It’s more than likely this information will be factored in when determining whether the former president will make a run for the White House in 2024. It also means that being underwater for many of our political leaders is only relative.