June 30th, 2018
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In normal times, it is normal for a President to be popular when the economy is good. President Bush 2001-2009 was very popular while the economy was good. So was President Clinton and President Reagan. At the top of every business cycle, there will be a few years when the public is happy, and credit often goes to the President, even if the President did very little to create the current prosperity.
So if Trump was a normal President, it would be normal for him to be popular right now, because the economy is fairly solid.
But Trump is not a normal President, so his approval rating remains below 50% despite the economy.
But there is one group that is acting as if Trump is a normal President: the Republicans.
In the past two months I have been traveling through Europe, talking to academic and non-academic audiences all across the continent about populism. And from Norway to Italy and Hungary to Ireland, people have been asking me the same question: how is it possible that Americans still support President Donald Trump?
Hillary Clinton: ‘What is more uncivil than taking children away?’
After explaining that the vast majority of Americans do not support Trump, and that he was elected with almost 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton – because the United States is the only “democratic” country in the world where a person with fewer votes can win the presidency – I bring them the really bad news: if things continue this way, Trump will be comfortably re-elected in 2020.
Of course, the main reason for Trump’s re-election, as well as his election, is the dysfunctional political practice and system of the United States. Like in other western democracies, the white majority is overrepresented because minorities vote at much lower levels. However, unlike in most other democracies, various types of old and new acts of voter suppression actively discourage the electoral participation of non-white minorities. On top of that, gerrymandering further strengthens the disproportionate power of the white electorate, particularly in the conservative rural areas of the individual states and the country as a whole.
But all of this does not explain why Trump is actually quite popular – and probably more popular than he was when he got elected. Today, Trump’s approval ratings are at 42%, which is a mere 3% lower than when he started. But more importantly, he is extremely popular among his core electorate, ie Republicans. A recent Gallup poll showed that, at the 500 days mark, Trump was the second most popular US president among his own constituency (87% support), only topped by President George W Bush (96% support), who was at that time profiting from the rally around the flag response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks!