The political landscape has been reversed since 1992. When Republicans sought the fourth consecutive presidential victory that year, California and New Jersey were still reliable states. Realignment of post-Civil Rights voters remains incomplete.
A more flexible partisan attachment gives change to economic conditions more power to change the political position of the president. President Bush first saw his Gallup approval rating jump up to 89% when America won the first Gulf War, then fell below 40% when voter attention turned to the ongoing economic recession at the same time.
Americans reject Bush’s leadership firmly, even when the recession turns to recovery. Elected in 1988 with 53% of the vote, Bush withdrew only 37% during his re-election in a three-way race that included an independent bid by Texas businessman Ross Perot.
“It doesn’t matter what Bush says,” recalls Daron Shaw, who works as a young data analyst on the Bush campaign and who now helps direct polls for Fox News. “As soon as you put Bush and the economy in the same sentence, people will only be eliminated.”
That makes Bush the third president in the last century to lose re-election, all three with great economic responsibility. The disappointing stagflation in 1980 helped Ronald Reagan overthrow Democrat Jimmy Carter; The Great Depression sparked Franklin Roosevelt’s victory over Republican Herbert Hoover in 1932.
The fragmented political world inhabited by Trump reduced the importance of economic problems. Strong growth for most of his tenure did not push Trump’s employment agreement to even be as high as 50%, or prevent Democrat opponents from reclaiming Parliament in 2018.
Victims of the frightening corona virus also did not change the rank of the President’s approval which was very weak. Polarization gave him a solid political foundation. The voter may also be unsure how much responsibility he has to bear for the disaster that befalls the whole world.
That’s how Trump fended off the Depression’s unemployment rate on Friday. He recalled a strong economy only two months ago – and a deliberate choice to stop it when the corona virus spreads.
Usually, the ration of the president who holds the right to vote is similar to the ranking of the approval of his work. 45% of Trump’s approval last month in the CNN Polling Poll nearly matched the 46% of the popular vote he received in defeating Hillary Clinton four years ago.
But Trump faces two major obstacles to re-creating his 2016 magic.
First, his part in the polling against Biden had run significantly behind his approval rating. That shows that even some unfriendly Trump voters are bored with incumbent divisions and erratic behavior.
In Fox’s national poll last month, for example, 49% agreed with Trump’s job performance but only 41% planned to vote against Biden. The Fox poll on the battlefields of Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania pegged the gap at eight, six and five percentage points, respectively. Biden leads in all three states.
“I have not seen such a large gap,” observed Shaw, who also teaches political science at the University of Texas.
Second, the health and economic losses of coronavirus make it difficult for Trump to compensate. Opinion polls show Biden running well among senior citizens, the group most vulnerable to the corona virus.
By shifting his message to the reopening of the economy, Trump aims to identify himself with the rebound predicted by the White House later this year as Americans head to the polls – even though health experts have warned of a second wave of infections in the fall that might kill the economy again.
However, if the US escapes that destiny, it will be Biden’s responsibility to persuade Americans that Trump’s response to the corona virus makes their economic suffering worse than it should. that argument can appeal to a small group of voters and encourage others who are usually dissatisfied from politics to take part in the election.
“Democrats must make this case,” said Paul Begala, the chief architect of Bill Clinton’s economic attack in 1992. “The narrative is, ‘He did a terrible job for you. He hurt you.'”