The media is making a big deal out of the fact that Donald Trump’s approval numbers for the coronavirus crisis are fairly high, and his overall approval rating is ticking slightly upward. Pundits are largely painting this as evidence that Americans now think Trump is truly doing a good job, and that he’s now in good shape for reelection. But this is false and easily disproven.
Yes, the polls are showing that Trump’s approval rating is up slightly. But these same new polls are showing that Joe Biden’s lead over Trump is expanding slightly. How can this be the case? Simple: in a time of crisis, plenty of Americans are willing to try to help a failing President by saying they approve of his handling of the crisis, whether they do or not. Then when you ask them in the next breath how they’re going to vote, they say they’re voting for the other guy.
In reality, for being in a crisis, Trump’s approval numbers are quite low. Real Clear Politics says that Trump’s average approval rating is in the mid-forties, with more people disapproving than approving. Other modern U.S. Presidents have seen much higher spikes in their numbers during a crisis. As is too often the case, the media is spinning these numbers in a far different direction than what they really mean – and the media is leaving out the numbers that don’t fit its narrative. We’re seeing almost no reporting on the fact that Biden has opened a seven point average lead over Trump. Whatever you think of polling accuracy to begin with, the media makes it far worse when they won’t even tell us what the real numbers are.
The mainstream media’s job is to generate ratings and thus profits. That means most major news outlets are going to push whatever narrative they think is going to keep the largest number of people tuned in. There are few better ways to keep people glued to their televisions than to scare them into thinking that not only are they facing a pandemic, the pandemic might magically get Trump reelected. But the numbers actually say the opposite.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report