What Do Partisan Polling Gaps Mean for Trump?

Sitting presidents historically have an advantage over their challengers, but time and circumstance matter, too.

Only four U.S. presidents have lost reelection in the last 100 years, but each governed during critical moments in history, including the Great Depression, political scandals and national security crises.

Gallup recently recorded an 89-point difference between Republicans’ and Democrats’ approval of President Trump – the largest partisan gap in Gallup’s 85 years of polling.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom over the 2020 election, what does this mean for President Trump?

At this point in their races, President Jimmy Carter faced a 33% partisan gap in approval, and President George H.W. Bush faced a 51% gap.

Both went on to lose their reelection bids, with President Carter plagued by a stagnant economy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, and President H.W. Bush dealing with a weak economy in his second term.

But in 2004, President George W. Bush faced a 60-point difference in approval between Democrats and Republicans, and he went on to win reelection after governing during September 11 and starting a decades-long war in Iraq.

And as we’ve noted previously, President Trump has a tendency to buck conventions.