Trump's unconventional presidency is hurting his 2020 chances

First things first: The theme song of the week is Angela, the...

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 12:25 AM
Updated: Nov 26, 2018 12:26 AM

First things first: The theme song of the week is Angela, the theme song to Taxi, by Bob James.

Poll of the week: A CBS News poll finds that President Donald Trump's approval rating on his handling of the economy is 52%. His disapproval rating on this metric is 41%.

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The same poll shows that Trump's overall job approval rating stands at just 39% to a disapproval rating of 55%.

Put another way, his net approval rating on the economy is +11 points and his net approval overall is -16 points, which makes for a difference of -27 points.

What's the point: The CBS News poll is merely the latest one to show that a majority of Americans approve of how Trump is doing on the economy, while a majority disapprove of his overall performance.

It's not difficult to figure out why there would be a split. Americans are far less likely to approve of the President on other issues such as foreign policy and immigration.

That Trump cannot get his overall approval rating up, however, despite what Americans see as a strong economy, is not a great sign for the President heading into his reelection campaign.

Indeed, the difference between Trump's net economic approval rating and net overall approval rating is astonishingly high when put in a historical context. I looked up every single president's overall and economic net approval ratings right around each midterm since 1978.

No other president has done this much worse overall than his economic ratings would suggest. On average, their overall net approval rating has actually run 17 points better than their economic net approval rating. Trump is running 27 points worse. The only president to come close to Trump's negative differential was Bill Clinton in 1998. That was when Clinton was getting impeached.

Trump is not the first president to have a bad midterm. A number who had a bad first term went on to win reelection two years later.

Many of those prior presidents, however, were seen as having mismanaged the economy heading to the midterm, according to CBS News polls dating back to the late 1970s (when CBS News first asked the question).

That was true for Ronald Reagan in 1982 (net economic approval rating of -3 points), Clinton in 1994 (net economic approval rating of -19 points) and Barack Obama in 2010 (net economic approval rating -13 points).

By the next presidential election, all of these presidents saw their net economic approval rating climb 10 points or more in the CBS News poll. With that, the overall approval rating of all of these presidents went up by double-digits as well.

Trump is in a very different situation. People believe he is doing well on the economy, but that isn't translating to a stronger overall approval rating.

Could Trump turn it around in time for 2020? Of course. Two years is an eternity in politics. For Trump to be a favorite for reelection, he probably needs one of three things to happen.

Option one is for Trump to not do anything and hope his overall approval rating comes into closer alignment with his economic approval rating on its own. Now the past is often not prologue when it comes to electoral politics (see the fact that Trump became president). That said, Trump's overall approval rating has continually run behind his economic approval rating. This is not some new phenomenon.

Option two is that the economy gets even better, so that even if his overall approval rating lags his economic approval rating, both can rise to the point where his overall approval rating makes him a favorite for reelection. This is possible, but remember the economy is already really strong. The unemployment rate is 3.7%. It has dipped only 0.4 points over the last year.

Option three is that Trump acts more like a conventional president to allow voters' economic views to more closely match their overall views of Trump. Trump's tweets, attacks on the media and improvisational style may be fodder for his base, but they don't seem to be working on the electorate at-large. A Monmouth University poll earlier this year found that the vast majority of Americans said Trump ran a less conventional administration than normal, and by a 21-point margin, they said that was a bad thing.

Of these options, only the third one is really in Trump's immediate control. The question is how does option three actually happen? Trump's been president for nearly two years now, and at no point has he really shown any sign that he's willing to get out of his own way.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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