President Trump’s reelection odds & the state of the Presidential race

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:

  • 39% based on a 45% average approval rating with likely voters

If you were wondering how President Trump contracting the virus might play would appear to be neutral to negative. President Trump’s approval is off 1% this week on average – with the biggest decline coming from what had been reliably his best approval pollster – Rasmussen. A week ago, Trump had a 49% approval rating in the Rasmussen daily poll (with a recent high of 52%). This week that poll mirrors the overall polling average of 45%. This places President Trump a couple of points below where incumbents want to be heading into Election Day. The key number to watch as we advance towards Election Day is 47%. Most incumbents 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 as Biden is now being priced with a 64% chance of winning this week.

That takes us to this week’s takeaways.

For Biden: With next week’s debate called off the challenge and opportunity for Biden is whether to prepare for future debates – he took himself off the trail for five days to prepare for the first debate. Or go full speed ahead on the campaign trail. If it’s the latter – he should focus blue-collar Midwest voters in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. All states Hillary Clinton lost and all states he's vulnerable in right now – especially with his effort to play both sides of issues like fracking/energy policy. Biden is currently pacing below where Hillary Clinton was four years ago in those states.

For Trump: It's the economy stupid comes to mind. Regardless of pollster, President Trump fairs best on economic issues. He has a track record and credibility on economic issues and should be the focus of his campaigning however he chooses to do it – including rallies on The Rush Limbaugh Show. Ironically, assuming the president makes a full recovery, the biggest impact of having contracted the virus may have been placing so much focus on that issue. COVID-19 is the issue with which Biden fairs best against Trump. He should work to turn the page and prioritize economics. Whether future debates happen or not is likely less relevant to President Trump.

To be continued...

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