Climbing the wall: is Donald Trump regaining popularity?

Donald Trump

The US president’s ratings have been consistently poor, but approval has improved in recent weeks.

For all his presidency thus far, Donald Trump’s net approval rating has been consistently lower than any previous president (since Harry S. Truman) at each stage of their respective presidency, according to data compiled by FiveThirtyEight.

This is a staggering feat and shows just how awful a president Donald Trump is seen as when compared to previous leaders.

However, his approval rating is consistently above 36% or 37% suggesting that there is a key third or more of voters who back him no matter what he says or does. It’s unlikely that Trump will stop being Trump over the next three years so if this core third of voters have put up with his antics until now, it’s difficult to see them being put off by something done in the future - that is if the economy holds up and the wall gets built.

Donald Trump Rubs Hands

That all said, despite recent stock market declines in America and the wider world, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have taken an upward turn in the past few weeks. FiveThirtyEight’s poll of polls currently put Trump’s approval rating at 40.8%. There is still 50%+ of the population that disapprove of 45, but out of the last fifteen polls, fourteen have put Donald Trump’s approval rating above 40%. One Rasmussen Reports/Pulse Opinion Research poll even puts him on 49%. This is likely an outlier, but it points to the trend that Trump’s ratings have recently improved.

What could this mean for American elections?

The next major US elections are November 2018's midterms, which take place two years after Donald Trump was first elected to office. All House of Representative seats are up for grabs, with the Democrats in with a shot of taking back the House. In addition to this, a third of senate seats are up for grabs. The Democrats could regain majority status in the upper chamber, but as most seats up for election are already Democrat-held, the chances of this are slim.

If the economy holds up and Trump’s approval ratings stagnate or further improve then that can only be good news for Republicans, however, as Donald Trump is America’s least popular president since the Second World War, the Democrats have a golden opportunity to make gains.

As for Trump’s re-election prospects in 2020, two things should be noted. Firstly, approval ratings can change dramatically over four years – just look at Obama and Bush – so predicting the next election on current results is next to impossible. Secondly, American presidential elections are two-horse races. Much will therefore depend on who the Democrats put up as their candidate. If their nominee fails to have high approval ratings, Trump’s low numbers, if they remain low that is, will have a limited effect.

To win the next presidential election, the Democrats need a political rock star to capture the hearts and minds of the nation.

The question is: who?