February 27, 2018

WEIRD, POLITICO HAD A SIMILAR PIECE THE OTHER DAY: TNR: How Trump Wins Re-Election.

Internal polling by the Democratic group Priorities USA showed the president’s approval rating had climbed to 44 percent in early February, which “mirrors Trump’s improving position in public polls.” Gallup finds a narrow majority of Americans support his handling of the economy, and the new Republican tax law is getting more popular.

“I think people just kind of assume he’s a goner,” FiveThirtyEight statistician Nate Silver told me recently, “but look, he’s now more in a range where presidents have recovered to win reelection. His approval rating is up to 41 or 42 percent in our tracking. That verges on being a normal number that resembles what happened to Reagan or Clinton or Obama in their second years.” (Silver noted over the weekend that Trump dipped to 39 percent in their tracking.) As Jim Messina, who managed President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, warned earlier this month, “Donald Trump can absolutely be reelected.” . . .

“If you had the election literally today, I think Trump would be an underdog in the popular vote, but I don’t know about the electoral college,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver told me. “He’s coming from a low point where he had, approval ratings wise, by far the worst first year of any president. But he’s kind of reverting to some mean, in a way, and the mean is how, on average, incumbent presidents get reelected. You know, on average incumbent presidents are having a rough time two years in and their parties suffer anywhere between mild and humongous loses in the midterms, but the baseline case is that incumbent presidents usually win.”

Interesting to see the conventional wisdom shifting. Plus:

Lichtman said the only variable that Democrats can control in the 2020 election is whether they nominate a charismatic candidate. He noted that the party’s past three presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—were all elected as “young unknowns,” which does not describe the top likely candidates to run against Trump in 2020: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. “The Democratic Party increasingly is looking like a nursing home,” Sabato said.

But don’t get cocky, kids.

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