With a new poll released Sunday showing Donald Trump at an anemic 40 percent approval rating and his overall average approval rating, as compiled by FiveThirtyEight.com, still stuck at just over 41 percent, Trump has only one hope to win reelection in 2020: Democrats must nominate a candidate who is “electoral poison.”
That assessment came on Saturday from leading political data expert Harry Enten, currently an election forecaster with CNN and formerly with FiveThirtyEight.com, who took to Twitter to look at Trump’s reelection chances.
“This is the number 1 lesson from the midterms. Trump’s approval rating among voters equaled the GOP’s vote share,” Enten pointed out. “He/They didn’t defy political gravity. Unless Dems nominate electoral poison, Trump’ll lose in 2020 with a 40-45% approval rating among voters.”
The FiveThirtyEight.com average as of Sunday shows Trump at 41.4 percent approval across all polls, while a YouGov poll released on December 30 gives Trump just a 40 percent approval rating. The YouGov poll also shows, in another danger sign for Trump’s reelection chances, that only 23 percent of Americans — fewer than one of every four — say that they “strongly” approve of Trump’s performance in office.
In every presidential election from 1980 to 2012, the candidate with better favorability ratings won the race, according to FiveThirtyEight statistics.
As Enten pointed out, Trump’s approval rating, which has not topped 43 percent in the overall average at any point in 2018, closely predicted the Republican vote share in the November midterm elections, which came in at 45.2 percent, according to NBC News. Democrats captured 53.1 percent of midterm voters.
In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won 46.09 percent of the popular vote, according to final Federal Election Commission numbers, while Democrat Hillary Clinton took 48.18 percent. But Trump managed to win the Electoral College vote thanks to narrow victories in largely rural states.
But both Clinton and Trump entered the 2016 election with extremely low approval ratings, as Enten also noted in a subsequent Twitter post. “The Dems did nominate electoral poison in 2016,” he wrote. “You can like or not like Clinton/Trump, but fact is their favorable ratings were and are awful.”
Nominating another candidate with low approval ratings would be “electoral poison” in 2020, Enten noted, also saying that the political landscape could change between now and the 2020 election — but the current conditions look bleak for Trump’s winning a second term.
“Don’t really see how this is controversial,” Enten concluded. “Not saying his approval will be there. Or Dems won’t nominate electoral poison. But if we meet certain conditions, Trump is probably screwed.”