President Trump’s reelection odds & the state of the Presidential race
Bottom Line: Coming into the Presidential Election cycle the odds were on the side of Donald Trump winning reelection. Why?
- 65% of Presidents who run for reelection win
There is a clear incumbency advantage. There are other numbers that come into play, based on a president’s approval ratings as we close in on Election Day. A Presidential reelection bid is first and foremost a referendum on the incumbent President. History has shown that if people are generally satisfied with the performance of the President – they'll vote to stay with him. That necessarily makes the relevance of the challenger a secondary consideration. In this story I've taken the historical approval ratings of incumbent presidents running for reelection and tracked the outcomes of those elections. In so doing I’m able to project historical reelection odds for President Trump based on his current ratings.
Here’s where we stand as of today:
- 49% based on a 46% average approval rating across all samples (flat vs last week)
- 49% based on a 46% average approval rating with likely voters (-2% vs last week)
We saw a narrowing of the approval polling this week. The lowest presidential approval poll has President Trump at 43% this week, while the highest has him at 52%. That range is the smallest in recent months and shows the likely engagement by many who are now engaging the election process for the first time as we’re poised to enter debate season and the homestretch of the Presidential race. The average, at 46% this week, is slightly below the ideal pacing for President Trump but leaves this race as essentially a coin flip at the moment. A key number to watch as we advance towards Election Day is 47%. Most incumbent Presidents with at least a 47% approval rating win reelection. Sitting just below that level leaves the President as a slight underdog if the election were held today. This is reflected in the betting odds when remain slightly tilted towards Biden with 53% of bettors placing money on him this week.
That takes us to this week’s takeaways.
For Biden: It’s now about Tuesday’s debate. The first debate has historically the most important and that’s all but certain to be the case this cycle. There are legitimate questions/concerns regarding Biden’s ability to do the job. With Biden appearing to have a slight edge – a solid debate performance without glaring cognitive issues/gaffs could help solidify some of his tepid supporters. Conversely, he has the most to lose in the debate if he has his version of a “whoops” moment.
For Trump: His pacing in swing states this week is worse than four years ago in all but two states – Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. While his progress in those two states – including now pacing a potential win in New Hampshire, which would be a pickup, is encouraging- he needs to seal the deal in Florida specifically. He won our state four years ago and several trends in Florida are now moving in a positive direction for him. With ballots now going out in our state it’s go time for him to bring home his home state. Given his margin of victory four years ago – he could have challenges in other swing states he won like Arizona, Wisconsin or Michigan and still be in a winning position by ensuring he wins his home state.
To be continued...