These’s been a couple of interesting articles lately on Trump’s generic chances–that is, his re-elect probability against an averagely good Democratic candidate. The 538 chat on this is a good one to go over to get a sense of all the reasons why he may (or may not) be in a good position to be re-elected. In the end, I think the assembled 538’ers are not quite sure how to call it. One participant avers that they seem to be putting Trump ‘s re-elect probability at between 47-53 percent. Leaving aside the faux precision, it sounds like they just don’t have a strong view one way or the other.
Also useful is an article on Vox by Dylan Scott going over some of the same ground. Distilling the discussion down to its essence, I’d say there are three big macro-factors that are influencing Trump’s chances:
1. His approval rating–it is bad and that should hurt him
2. Incumbency–he is the incumbent and that should help him
3 The economy–the economy has been good by standard metrics and that should help him. However, his approval rating has consistently lagged economic performance since his inauguration and evidence from recent Presidencies suggests that the the relationship between economic performance and Presidential outcomes has generally weakened. Therefore, while the economy should be of some help to Trump, it may not be nearly as much help as it has been to Presidents in the past.
Of these factors, probably the most important to Trumps’ fate the first one. So the key question for Trump is can he (a) use his other advantages to neutralize his lousy approval ratings or (b) actually improve these ratings.