Maryland’s second-term Republican governor, Larry Hogan, offered a candid assessment of Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection chances in an interview with CBS News set to air on Wednesday, telling the network that Trump’s outlook for gaining a second term appears grim. In fact, said Hogan, while Trump is likely to fend off any Republican primary challenger, his odds of defeat against any Democrat in the general election are “pretty good.”
“The issue I’m concerned about is he has a very low reelect number, I think in the 30s, high 30s, low 40s,” Hogan told CBS. “So the chance of him losing a general election are pretty good. I’m not saying he couldn’t win but he’s pretty weak in the general election.”
Hogan’s reference to Trump’s “reelect” number was intended to mean his approval rating poll numbers, which have been on a slight uptick since the conclusion of the 35-day government shutdown, but remain badly underwater, according to a statistically weighted average of all polls compiled by the political data site FiveThirtyEight.
According to the site’s polling average, Trump’s approval rating as of Tuesday stood at 41.8 percent. That’s an upward creep of 2.5 percentage points since January 26, the day after the lengthy shutdown over Trump’s decade for a “border wall” concluded. But that number is still lower than any of the most recent four previous presidents at the same point in their terms, 761 days in.
Perhaps even more troubling for Trump’s reelection bid is his “net” approval rating — that is, the difference between his approval rating and his disapproval rating. For Trump, per the FiveThirtyEight numbers, his disapproval rating as of Tuesday stood at 53.9, meaning that more than half of Americans actively disapprove of Trump’s performance in the chief executive’s job. His net approval rating, therefore, would be a dismal -12.1.
At the same point in their terms, only two past presidents since 1945 when approval polling began have suffered negative net approval ratings, according to FiveThirtyEight data. Ronald Reagan was severely underwater after 761 days at -20.2 in the year 1983. Jimmy Carter in the year 1979 was barely underwater by less than a point, at -0.8. Reagan won reelection the following year anyway, but Carter lost his bid.
According to research by the Gallup polling organization, “job approval ratings of the incumbent president do not predict chances of winning the election until it is well into the election year itself.”
Trump is still more than 10 months away from the calendar turning to 2020, and more than 20 months from the election itself. But the overall trend in Trump’s approval ratings has shown little change for nearly the entire duration of his time in office, standing at 44.3 percent in February 18, 2017, just 2.5 points higher than today. Additionally, as the Inquisitr reported, Trump’s approval rating among his “base” voters, whites without college degrees, has recently shown erosion as well, another indicator that, as Hogan said, Trump could be “pretty weak in the general election.”