Try as they may, try as they might, the media has failed to turn President Trump into the incompetent villain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest Fox News poll, the president’s job approval rating has jumped to a “record high” amid the pandemic, from 47% to 49%.
“Amid widespread concerns about the virus’ spread and personally getting infected, 49% approve of the job Trump is doing as president,” reported the outlet. “That’s up from 48% two weeks ago and 47 percent in late February.”
On the flipside, a full 49% of voters disapprove of the president’s performance, evening out the American divide. On a partisan line, the president enjoys an 89% approval from Republicans, just 2-points down from his record of 91% in January. On his handling of the pandemic, Trump enjoys a 51% approval rating while Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gets the highest approval rating at 88% versus Dr. Deborah Birx at 62% and Vice President Mike Pence at 52%.
Republican pollster Daron Shaw said that while Trump’s gains could be better, they may prove consequential come the November election.
“The president’s bump in approval isn’t huge, and certainly not on par with the rally effect for George W. Bush after 9/11,” said Shaw. “But it could be consequential that he’s closing in on 50 percent, which is critical for his re-election chances.”
While those polled were largely grim about the current state of the economy, they expressed optimism that things will bounce back after the pandemic subsides from crisis levels. People also expressed positivity about an improved relationship with fellow neighbors.
Voters see things changing soon. Forty-four percent think the economy will get better over the next year, 35 percent see it getting worse, and 16 percent expect no change. More than twice as many Republicans (66 percent) as Democrats (27 percent) see things improving next year.
In response to the pandemic, 88 percent report changing how they lead their life at least somewhat, including 56 percent who have changed things “a great deal.”
More say their interactions with others feel friendlier and more compassionate (34 percent) these days than less friendly (21 percent). Another one-third say not much difference (35 percent).
When asked to share any silver linings in the crisis, top mentions include a sense of community (13 percent), more family time (11 percent), the nation being better prepared for future outbreaks (10 percent), the nation being stronger in the future (8 percent), and time for personal reflection (8 percent). One in five is unable to think of an upside (21 percent).
How does all this translate to the 2020 race? According to another Fox News poll, the president has now tied with former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee at 42%, destroying Biden’s comfortable 9-point lead from a week ago.
“Two weeks ago, Biden was up by 49-40 percent (March 21-24),” reported Fox News. “Some of the most significant declines in his support come from women (-9 points) and non-whites (-11). Yet, the most troublesome shift is among Democrats, as just 80 percent back him, down from 87 percent in March.”
It’s possible that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) having dropped out of the presidential race this week has contributed to Biden’s decline by forcing voters to contend with the fact that the former vice president will be the nominee. It also does not help Biden that the pandemic destroyed his campaign momentum.
“The timing of the coronavirus pandemic meant Biden didn’t get the opportunity to rally crowds and build enthusiasm after his big primary wins in early March,” said Democrat pollster Chris Anderson. “And now Americans of all political stripes have a shared enemy in coronavirus, and the right thing for him to do from a public health perspective is stay home. That’s a tough position for the Biden campaign.”