The bottom line of this post is an an assessment of the prospects for Trump’s re-election. To reach that assessment, I review Trump’s poll number, the effect of the impeachment on his popularity, and the economic outlook as reflected in the stock market.
Trump’s approval ratings are solidly within the range of the past two years, following the post-honeymoon, media-fueled decline in 2017:
Derived from Rasmussen Reports approval ratings for Trump.
Trump continues to be more popular than Obama was at the same point in his presidency:
Trump’s relatively good standing is also obvious in a straightforward comparison of strong-approval ratings, averaged over 7 days. Note that Trump’s strong-approval rating is as high it has been since the early, honeymoon weeks of his presidency:
I also compute an enthusiasm ratio, which is the 7-day average of the following ratio: the fraction of likely voters expressing strong approval divided by the fraction of likely voters responding. Here again, Trump holds a marked advantage over Obama:
Every week since the first inauguration of Obama, Rasmussen Reports has asked 2,500 likely voters whether they see the country as going in the right direction or being on the wrong track. The following graph shows the ratios of right direction/wrong track for Trump and Obama:
Source: Rasmussen Reports, “Right Direction or Wrong Track“.
The ratio for Trump, after a quick honeymoon start, fell into the same range as Obama’s. It jumped with the passage of the tax cut in December 2017, and remained high after that, until the shutdown. The post-shutdown rebound has given way to downward movement. This is the only negative for Trump.
The Impeachment Effect
Yesterday, the House of Representatives finally sent to the Senate the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Big whoop! The graph below depicts Trump’s approval ratings, according to a reliable source: Rasmussen Reports:
Rasmussen’s polling method covers all respondents (a sample of likely voters) over a span of three days. The gaps represent weekends, when Rasmussen doesn’t publish the results of the presidential approval poll.
The Washington Post broke the story on September 20 about Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with the president of Ukraine. Thus the results for September 16 through September 20 didn’t reflect the effects of the story on the views of Rasmussen’s respondents. Trump’s approval ratings continued to rise after September 20, and peaked on September 24, the day on which the House officially initiated an impeachment inquiry. Trump’s approval ratings bottomed on October 25 but since then — despite much sound and fury in the House, culminating in articles of impeachment — they have moved above their positions on September 16.
Meanwhile, the stock market keeps climbing — a good sign of confidence in Trump’s political survival:
Trump’s popularity, relative to Obama’s, is high. (See figure 2.)
Trump’s support is stronger than Obama’s was. (See figures 3 and 4.)
The effort to remove Trump from office by impeachment hasn’t affected his popularity thus far. (See figure 6.)
The economy continues to grow steadily, and the stock market reflects economic optimism. (See figure 7.)
Voters currently have a less rosy view of the state of the nation than they did when Obama was re-elected. (See figure 5.)
To clinch re-election, some things have to break Trump’s way. One such thing would be an anti-impeachment backlash among independent voters, supported by a compelling defense in the Senate trial. Also pending are more damaging revelations (damaging to Democrats) by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a criminal investigation of the origins of Spygate.