Gallup’s latest survey on Americans’ opinions of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic contains a series of welcome numbers for the incumbent amid the election-year crisis.
Gallup’s new study finds that Trump’s approval among U.S. adults has jumped 5 points since earlier this month, surging from 44 to 49% approval. That approval rating is the best of his presidency, matching previous highs experienced in late January and early February as the Senate conducted the impeachment trial that ultimately acquitted the president of both of the Democrats’ impeachment articles.
“Independents’ and Democrats’ approval of Trump’s performance has increased slightly since earlier this month, tying as the best he has registered to date among each group,” Gallup explains. “The president’s approval rating among Republicans was already above 90%, and remains so — but is not currently his highest on record (94% in late January).”
The sudden increase among both independents and Democrats, which Gallup underscores is “highly unusual for Trump in particular,” indicates a true “rally,” the pollster explains. While Gallup somewhat downplays the development, describing the 5-point increase as a “small rally,” five points is significant in the midst of an economy-crushing crisis and in an election year that appears to be leading to a very close contest.
Also significant are Americans’ views of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. On this front, Gallup does not soft-pedal Trump’s very strong performance and credits public opinion on his handling of the crisis for his increased overall approval rating.
“Americans give the president generally positive reviews for his handling of the situation, with 60% approving and 38% disapproving,” Gallup reports. “Ninety-four percent of Republicans, 60% of independents and 27% of Democrats approve of his response.”
This strong approval percentage, Gallup suggests, is likely a reason that Trump has gained 5 points in overall approval in just a few weeks.
The positive movement in approval on the handling of the crisis, Gallup posits, is in part due to Trump’s tonal shift on March 16, in which he “acknowledged the seriousness of the situation by urging people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to have workers and students stay home if possible.” Trump also began holding daily press briefings to provide the country with updates on the pandemic and the federal and state response.
In its report on the findings of its latest Trump-focused survey, Gallup provides some context for presidential rallies during crises:
Historically, presidential job approval has increased when the nation is under threat. Every president from Franklin Roosevelt through George W. Bush saw their approval rating surge at least 10 points after a significant national event of this kind. Bush’s 35-point increase after 9/11 is the most notable rally effect on record. During these rallies, independents and supporters of the opposing party to the president typically show heightened support for the commander in chief.
Due to heightened “political polarization,” Gallup explains, such dramatic surges in approval appear to be a “relic of the past,” thus Trump’s spike is a more modest in comparison 5%.
Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll of U.S. voters currently gives Trump almost identical approval numbers as President Obama at the same point in his presidency. Obama would go on to easily win re-election. Rasmussen’s tracking poll shows Trump at 46% approval and 53% disapproval, with 34% strongly approving and 42% strongly disapproving.