Poll of the week: A new Gallup poll finds that President-elect Joe Biden has a 55% favorable rating and a 41% unfavorable rating.
The same poll gives President Donald Trump a 42% favorable rating and a 57% unfavorable rating.
What’s the point: The 2020 election was, like almost every election involving an incumbent, mostly about voters’ feelings toward said incumbent. Not enough attention, however, has been paid to the fact that the challenger was a fairly popular guy. He did not allow Trump to make this election a choice of the lesser of two evils.
Indeed, Biden is more popular than Trump has been at any point since he started running for president in June 2015.
A look across all the polling shows that Trump’s favorable rating has usually been in the 30s or 40s, like in the Gallup poll. In the network exit poll, it was 46%.
The highest favorable rating I could find in any live interview poll for Trump was after he won the 2016 election. His favorable rating stood at 50% in a Bloomberg News poll conducted by Selzer and Company.
Trump never actually got above 50% in any live interview poll.
Biden, by comparison, has done it multiple times. He did it in the CNN/SSRS, Fox News and New York Times/Siena College polls in October, to name a few.
Unlike Trump, Biden’s favorable rating is now usually above his unfavorable rating. The national exit poll pegged him at a 52% favorable rating to 46% unfavorable rating, for example.
Biden’s favorable rating right now looks similar to Barack Obama’s heading into his second term in 2013.
This gives an insight: Biden being more popular than unpopular isn’t abnormal. What was abnormal was that Trump was elected, despite being so unpopular. Perhaps even more unusual is that he could never get above 50% during his presidency, which is unheard of in modern American politics.
[I should note that Trump would still have a historically low ceiling even if you added 2 points to his favorable rating to take into account any polling miscues (i.e. the final polls underestimated him by 2 points, once you allocate undecided voters).]
Biden’s relatively high favorable rating comes, despite the overall Democratic Party poll slagging behind. The Democratic Party’s favorable rating was just 45% in the Gallup poll. Biden running ahead of the Democratic Party’s popularity was true in October polls from Gallup and CNN as well.
MAP: See 2020 election results
In fact, you don’t need to look further than the House of Representative results to see Biden doing better than the average Democrat. Despite holding the incumbency advantage (which Biden was running against), House Democratic candidates won the nationwide vote by about 3 points. Biden won it by 4.5 points.
This marked one of the rare times in history where the House majority party did worse than their side’s presidential candidate who was not an incumbent.
And, as I’ve noted before, House Democratic candidates actually received less votes than Republican House candidates in key swing states such as Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden, of course, won all of these battlegrounds and with them the presidency.
The Republican Party’s favorable rating, on the other hand, at 43% basically matched Trump’s at 42%.
This brings us to a big question as Trump exits the White House: Will the Republican Party continue to be defined by him?
And for Democrats, will the Democratic Party’s favorable ratings rise when Biden enters the White House? Or will Biden begin to get defined by Americans’ feelings toward the Democratic Party as a whole?
Those are the questions that may ultimately determine not just the 2018 midterm elections, but the 2024 presidential election as well.
Before we bid adieu: The theme song of the week is The Price is Right theme song.