Bolstered by a strong economy, Donald Trump reached the highest job approval rating of his career in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll and runs competitively for re-election against four of five possible Democratic contenders. Yet he remains broadly unpopular across personal and professional measures, marking his vulnerabilities in the 2020 election.
Forty-four percent of Americans approve of Trump’s overall job performance, up a slight 5 percentage points from April and 2 points better than his peak early in his presidency. Still, 53% disapprove, keeping him at majority disapproval continuously for his first two and a half years in office, a record for any president in modern polling.
Fifty-one percent approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, more than half for the first time in his presidency. His approval ratings across eight other issues all are substantially lower, ranging from 42% on handling taxes to 29% on global warming.
Personally, moreover, a broad 65% say that since taking office Trump “has acted in a way that’s unpresidential,” not far from the 70% who said so in mid-2017 and early 2018 alike. Just 28% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, say his behavior is “fitting and proper” for a president.
That said, support for Congress initiating impeachment proceedings against Trump remains unchanged since April at 37%, while opposition to this step has grown by 13 points since August to 59%, a new high. Sixty-one percent of Democrats favor impeachment action, but just 37% of independents – and 7% of Republicans – agree.
Even while it’s up, Trump’s historically low approval rating makes him vulnerable in the 2020 elections – but hardly a pushover. Among all adults (there’s plenty of time to register to vote), Joe Biden leads Trump by 14 points. But that narrows among the other four Democrats tested against Trump in this poll – an 8-point lead for Kamala Harris, a slight 7 points for Elizabeth Warren, 6 for Bernie Sanders and 4 for Pete Buttigieg. The latter two don’t reach statistical significance.
Among registered voters, moreover, Biden still leads, by 10 points, but the other races all tighten to virtual or actual dead heats – Trump a non-significant -2 points against Harris, -1 against Sanders and exactly tied with Warren and Buttigieg.
Another question tests Trump against “a Democratic candidate who you regard as a socialist” –relevant given the Republicans’ stated aim of applying that label to their eventual opponent. Among the general public the race is tied among Trump vs. a perceived socialist; among registered voters it goes +6 to Trump, 49% to 43%, not a significant difference.
Results show some notable differences among groups. Moderates favor Biden over Trump by a 29-point margin, compared with 18- to 15-point margins for Warren, Sanders or Buttigieg vs. Trump (and 21 points for Harris). Biden leads among most groups save traditionally GOP-leaning ones, including whites who lack a college degree, conservatives, older adults and rural Americans. Among blacks, Biden’s 83-12 lead is as good as Harris’ 77-16%. And Biden has a 17-point lead among college-educated white women, which is better than Harris’ 9 points and Warren’s 7 points in the same key Democratic group. Indeed neither of those is a statistically significant lead.
Trump’s campaign responded to the poll Sunday morning, telling ABC News that the president in a stronger position for his re-election bid than past incumbents, including Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. The campaign added that Trump will stress the issues, rather than matchups between any of the Democratic candidates.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Gary Langer