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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: Turn Trump Disapproval Into Democratic Votes

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Excellent data from 538 on the relationship between Presidential approval and election outcomes. Make no mistake: history suggests that Trump’s low and essentially unchanging approval ratings put his re-election in very serious danger.

“Now that the 2020 election has gone from “next year” to “this year,” it’s worth taking a step back and asking a question that we first posed in early 2017: How popular is Donald Trump? After all, a president’s job approval rating can be predictive of his reelection chances, especially as November draws closer.

On Jan. 1, 42.6 percent of Americans approved of President Trump’s job performance, according to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker (52.9 percent disapproved). That’s a pretty typical number for Trump (although it’s worth noting that, since Jan. 1, the U.S. and Iran have taken actions that could shake Trump’s approval rating loose from that anchor), but ominously for the president, that’s the second-lowest FiveThirtyEight average approval rating of any recent1 president on the first day of their reelection year. Only Gerald Ford (39.3 percent on Jan. 1, 1976) was less popular — and, of course, Ford lost that campaign to Jimmy Carter.”

Trump disapproval; there is nothing more important. That is why I have repeatedly said that the top three things the Democratic nominee must do in the 2020 general election are:

1. Convert Trump disapproval into Democratic votes.
2. Convert Trump disapproval into Democratic votes.
3. Convert Trump disapproval into Democratic votes

That’s assuming Trump disapproval ratings remain high. But the pattern so far suggests they will. So if you want to know which Democratic candidate is the most “electable”, ask yourself this question: Which candidate is likely to be the most effective at turning Trump disapproval into Democratic votes?

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