The Bump just one day, disappeared …
When the first round of public opinion surveys gauging the impressions of Americans on the performance of impeached president Donald Trump re the COVID-19 public health crisis were released, many people found the results to be astonishing.
Astonishing in the sense that they reflected a reality disconnect, based on an objective assessment of Trump’s preposterous statements that misled Americans about the true threat the spread of the virus posed to their health.
Some polls reported that Trump had as high as a 60 percent approval rating on his leadership in this catastrophe. ElectoralVote.com describes it as a “rally ’round the flag” bump.
I cautioned at the time, that one should not read too much into polls like this. Not only because it was evident that the coronavirus leadership polls didn’t synchronize with Trump’s general job performance ratings, but also due to the inherent deficits of the methodology of these polls. People who are familiar with how they are conducted, realize that pollsters are attempting to contact respondents via live phone surveys.
Think about your own personal habits with phone calls. Most of you no longer have a “house phone”. You ditched the landline and conduct all of your communications via your mobile phone. As such, many of you have a contact “whitelist” and anyone who is not among the core group of people you expect to hear from, doesn’t get past it. That of course, would include pollsters.
So then, the only remaining demographic that actually answer these calls, are mostly first wave boomers and some “greatest generationals”. Those folks, so far, skew strongly towards Trump. Although these polling organizations represent that they have methodology to factor out this imbalance such as “weighting”, all of them have problematic effects in terms of accuracy.
Given the fact that such polls have a potential error factor of as much as 5 percent, it makes sense to avoid the outliers and stick with poll balancing, such as the Real Clear Politics poll averages.
Outside of that aspect, there was the red flag that most modern presidents reaped major bounces from America’s collective perceptions of them being in command in the midst of momentous episodes and challenges.
A notable example of that was what most of us recall as the “Ground Zero” moment after 9/11, with George W. Bush.
American approval of the way President George W. Bush was handling his job, surged to 86%, the fourth highest approval rating ever measured by Gallup in the six decades it has been asking Americans to make that evaluation.
The previous reporting period had Bush at 51%, reflecting a 35 percent increase based on the national perception that Bush was going to respond in some forceful fashion to the attack. This is in contrast to Trump.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday shows that 47% of voters feel Trump isn’t doing enough to respond to the outbreak, while 40% think he is doing a good job. While Trump was above water, one might say, just a week ago, he’s now underwater by 7 points. Remember, this shift is in spite of the lopsided statistical bias of phone based surveys.
Cook Political Report observes also, the distinction between Trump’s chronic underperformance in general approval surveys and the ephemeral positive ratings on his performance vis a vis, coronavirus management:
For President Trump, even with strong support from Americans for his handling of this crisis, his overall job performance ratings remain within the narrow ‘trading range’ they’ve been since the start of his presidency (between 35-49 percent). In other words, his performance – thus far – on handling this issue hasn’t fundamentally changed the way that voters perceive him and his stewardship of the office.
In contrast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ratings have rocketed into orbit.
“If this were any other president, we would expect job ratings to have swung almost instantaneously by at least 10 points,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University polling institute, wrote on his polling site.
“George W. Bush got a nearly 30-point bump after 9/11. John F. Kennedy saw a double-digit hike in his already high ratings during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Even Jimmy Carter got a 25-point bump in 1979 when Americans were taken hostage in Iran.”
And in fact, it is interesting to see the comparables between Trump’s short lived bump and that of the state governors that have demonstrated more competent leadership.
Trump’s generic approval poll, still finds him below 50 percent. Especially revealing is that Rasmussen Reports, which has customarily been an outlier (and the pollster Trump habitually references), with higher positive ratings than virtually every other polling survey, is presently showing Trump at 44 percent approval – a staggering 9 point drop from their next most recent polling result. That would make alarms ring at Trump’s campaign headquarters.
That Trump hasn’t and cannot break 50% in approval, signals that Trump’s re-election prospects are on a ventilator. 60% of survey respondents are “very concerned” at this point, about the pandemic. Voters are going to be focused on this going forward.
Trump’s story about the “booming economy”, is now non existent, even though it has been mostly fictitious for some time now. The economy was in downturn mode, even before the virus began rearing its ugly head and stock values were generally, grossly inflated.
Matters, including falling GDP numbers, would have come to a head before the election regardless, just not quite to the extent they now are.
Trump’s “rally round the flag”, no matter how assiduously he hugs, kisses and wraps himself in it, is over and if you blinked, you missed it.
It’s back down to planet earth and Americans under stay at home orders, will have a lot of time to reflect if Trump’s claim about the virus that “one day it will just disappear”, was responsible or negligent. The trajectory of the contagion and the accompanying sickness and death, is likely to argue the latter rather than the former.