- Trump’s steady approval rating is well documented, consistently sitting in the mid-40s.
- Trump hit his peak of 49% back in February and again in late March in Gallup’s tracking poll, with an aggregated peak of 47% coming around the same time last month.
- However, Americans have been giving him relatively poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus, rating other leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo much higher.
- Normally, US presidents see a notable uptick in their approval ratings during crises, such as when President George W. Bush cracked 90% in the aftermath of 9/11.
- So far amid the coronavirus pandemic, the so-called rally-around-the-flag effect is in full force for several governors and world leaders, but not for Trump.
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President Donald Trump’s consistent approval rating has defied a bunch of political science maxims and historical trends, but he’s perhaps the biggest outlier when it comes to the coronavirus.
After a brief return to his peak approval rating of 49% in Gallup’s tracking poll in late March, Trump has regressed to 43% of Americans approving of his job performance, with 54% saying they disapprove.
Compared to past presidents – Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis (74%), Carter at the outset of the Iran hostage crisis (58%), H.W. Bush during Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait (89%), W. Bush following 9/11 (90%), and Obama after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden (52%) – Trump is seeing the smallest and shortest lived rally ’round the flag effect in the history of modern presidential polling.
American presidents typically see their approval ratings soar in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, and continue to rise for two months. For Donald Trump this “rally round the flag” effect has been far less pronounced!https://t.co/iPyZaH2NFd pic.twitter.com/9GTnFie5ro
— Cevat Giray Aksoy (@cevatgirayaksoy) April 16, 2020
In academia, the rally ’round the flag effect is understood as a spike in a president’s approval rating when confronted with an exogenous event that meets three categories, according to John Mueller, a longtime political science professor at The Ohio State University who defined the term in the 1970s:
- The crisis or event is “international.”
- “Involves the United States and particularly the president directly.”
- “Specific, dramatic, and sharply focused.”
Abroad, the principle seems to be holding up among several world leaders, even without the same kind of patriotic paradigm political scientists like Mueller have studied in the United States.
#NEW from me on Trump's approval rating. It peaked last week and is slightly down now, portending a swift end to the shortest rally-around-the-flag effect in modern US history. Meanwhile, other world leaders (and US governors) are up 20 pts+ in the polls. https://t.co/rFGlT7Mj7G
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) April 15, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron is at a two-year high in approval after his rating tanked during the apex of the Yellow Vest protests, now hovering a little above 50% after bottoming out in the low-20s in late 2018.
Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte have cracked 70% in recent polls.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit his all-time high rating this month at 74%, way up from his nadir of 28% last April.
While Trump is already seeing his minimal bump diminish, most Americans approve of how their governor is handling the crisis, according to three national polls earlier this month from Morning Consult, Quinnipiac University, and Monmouth University.
Insider’s latest polls have shown Trump at the bottom of a list of 10 high-profile leaders handling the COVID-19 outbreak, with Dr. Anthony Fauci and New Y0rk Gov. Andrew Cuomo scoring the highest.
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