Ciboski: Looking At 2020, Trump Doesn't Appear Strong

Jun 26, 2019

President Trump does not appear strong politically as we move toward the 2020 presidential campaign. One indication of his weakness is that he has never achieved great heights in approval ratings. Gallup shows his average approval is 40 percent for his time in office. Earlier this month it was 43 percent, with disapproval at 55 percent.

Authors E.J. Dionne, Thomas Mann, and Norman Ornstein, in their book One Nation After Trump, recall what happened in 2016. They note that Trump’s victory was a matter of about 78,000 votes in three crucial states, helped by FBI director James Comey reopening the case of Hillary Clinton’s controversial email use in the final 10 days before voting. They argue Trump was also helped by Russian interference and from the disclosure of hacked Democratic emails.

Exit polling found 60 percent of the electorate had an unfavorable view of Trump, with only 38 percent favorable. Trump began his presidency with the lowest approval rating of any new president in modern polling history.

Trump’s victory was not so much an endorsement of him, but more a rejection of Clinton. He had a more negative than positive victory. We should remember, too, that Trump lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly three million votes.

Analyses show Trump does not speak for the majority of Americans, and his behavior in office has bolstered his opponents. His base may amount to no more than about one-fifth of the electorate. However, while Trump may be particularly vulnerable, his Democratic opponent must still propose viable programs on many issues in the country. Health care, I think, will be a major issue, and a health care proposal would be a beginning with an attack on Trump’s failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.