When Donald Trump had troops attack peaceful protesters across the street from the White House, it was an absolute atrocity and a reminder that we’re in an incredibly dangerous time. But it didn’t mean that Trump was now somehow magically winning, just because he did something awful. In fact what we’ve seen since the incident is that Trump is very much losing.
I’ve said from the very start of Trump’s term that the only true arbiter of who’s “winning” and “losing” would be his approval rating. If a president is popular enough, he can get away with nearly anything. If a president is unpopular enough, it leaves him with virtually no political muscle, and any attempted show of strength he makes will usually end up backfiring. More to the point, with Trump being a first-termer and just five months until the election, if his numbers are bad enough, he will soon cease to have any power at all, because he’ll be out of office.
Yesterday, FiveThirtyEight announced that not only does Trump now have the worst disapproval rating of his presidency, he has the worst disapproval rating of any U.S. president in the history of polling. Let that sink in: no U.S. president in our lifetime has ever been as unpopular, at any point during their presidency, as Donald Trump is right now. That means no one has ever been in a weaker position when it comes to reelection than Trump is in.
Five months is a long time. If we want to win this election, we’ll have to continue to put in the work required, and we’ll have to find a way to hold our country together in the meantime. But the overriding point here is that this past week has kicked Donald Trump’s butt. His presidency is in shards. He’s coming from a place of absolute weakness. He couldn’t be any more vulnerable. And the more he tries to act like a strongman, the weaker his numbers get.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report