According to this one important reelection metric? Trump is in unchartered territory.

By Matt Rooney

Let’s face it, folks: there’s a lot going on right now, but everyone is really interested in one thing. Many of our readers keep asking me for my opinion on this single all-important item…

Will Trump pull this out? Can Trump pull this out?

There’s certainly plenty of reason for pessimism, but we also have some mixed indicators AND a very recent example (close to home) of the Media’s ongoing trouble handicapping “Trump turnout” in Obama-Trump districts. Click those links if you want to delve a little deeper. 

Another barometer which few are discussing but more probably should:

Job approval.

Historically, presidents polling at, above, or even just very close to 50% (Obama, Dubya, Reagan) in the national job approval polls win reelection. If you’re under 40% (H.W. Bush and Carter)? Happy retirement. 

On the RCP average, Obama was at 49.4%, 482% disapprove on October 19, 2020. Gallup had him at 46% right before election day 2012.

Dubya was at 50% approve, 46.8% disapprove. Gallup’s final pre-Election 2004 number was 49%.

Trump? 44.8% approve, 53.8% disapprove.

In other words, we’re in unchartered territory here for modern U.S. presidential elections. Trump is polling significantly HIGHER than the two contemporary presidents who didn’t get reelected but also significantly lower than those who did (Gallup had him at 46% at the end of September).

[Another first: Trump is the first president to run in a general election post-impeachment; Andrew Johnson failed to secure the Democrat nomination in 1868 and Bill Clinton was already in his second term at the time of his own impeachment.]

The political balkanization of the country may help explain some of this. Populous, coastal blue states are getting bluer while other traditionally purple states (notably Ohio) appear to be trending redder. The GOP’s widespread unpopularity in places like the NYC metro area might be throwing the numbers a bit.

Lucky for Trump and his devotees, this president is a master of navigating unchartered territory.

Watch his job approval over the next two weeks.

If you’re seeing him hit 465, 47% or higher? Looking good.

If we’re in the low 40s? The polls could be wrong, but at that point they’d probably need to be wrong.