In an unexpected twist, coronavirus could win Donald Trump the 2020 election. A new Ipsos Mori poll has found that 55% of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Compared to the same poll last week, Trump’s approval ratings have increased by an impressive 10%. After much punditry about how Trump’s initial inaction would cost him votes, his ramped-up response to COVID-19 appears to be having the desired effect.
Scared voters are rallying around the incumbent president during a time of national crisis. And if the pandemic lasts long enough, this well-documented “rally-round-the-flag” effect may be enough to shove Trump across the finish line in November.
Browsing Twitter, it’s not hard to find fierce criticisms of Donald Trump and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the numbers don’t lie. The American public is responding well to the Trump administration’s escalating response to the crisis.
Last Friday, the president declared a national emergency , promising to make tests more available in a move that caused the Dow Jones to rally.
This week, he suspended evictions and foreclosures . Then he invoked the Defense Production Act to boost the production of vital medical equipment and supplies.
At a time when Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed about coronavirus, this news has a disproportionately reassuring effect.
The latest Ipsos Mori survey isn’t the only evidence that Trump’s coronavirus response is salvaging his odds of reelection.
Published yesterday, a Harris poll of 2,000 Americans found that Trump’s overall approval rating had increased to 53% from 49%. Harris pegged approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus at 56%, up from 51%.
Trump’s victory in 2016 proved that polls should always be taken with a pinch of salt. But the trend suggests he may be benefitting from the much-studied “rally-round-the-flag” phenomenon.
During the times of serious national crisis, nervous citizens increasingly support the president. As seen after 9/11 , the price of not supporting a president is prolonged despair. Hence the increased willingness to approve when a president takes “action.”
Recent polls from the U.K. support the assumption that this is what is happening in the U.S. The U.K. government’s approval just hit a positive net rating for the first time since 2010.
There’s plenty to criticize Boris Johnson and his government about for their handling of COVID-19. But the U.K. government is doing “something,” so the general public is reassured.
And looking forward, this effect may prove pivotal in November.
The boost to Donald Trump’s ratings could help him beat the Democratic nominee. And if the coronavirus crisis is still festering in November, voters may be reluctant to have a “changing of the guard” at such a sensitive time.
Obviously, Trump’s approval boost may peter out if his initial actions do nothing to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. But as the old saying goes, only time will tell.