Analysis: Trump’s approval low but stable as he looks for convention bounce

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Trump, Biden neck-and-neck in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has remained low but stable this summer, as well as Americans’ assessments of his handling of the coronavirus, according to results from NBC/SurveyMonkey’s weekly tracking poll.

The latest results released Tuesday, reflecting Aug. 17-23, peg the President’s approval rating at 44 percent (“strongly approve” plus “somewhat approve”) and his approval rating for handling of the coronavirus at 43 percent.

Tuesday’s poll surveyed 42,315 U.S. adults and is nationally representative of age, race, sex, education and geography. Its margin of error is +/- 1 percentage point.

The President’s numbers have barely budged as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened in the U.S. over the past few months. In the nine straight weeks that this survey has polled approval, Trump’s job approval rating has never strayed outside 43-45 percent, nor has his approval rating for handling of the coronavirus been outside 43-44 percent.

The stability of his approval ratings is good news for the President because it shows a dedicated base of supporters, but the bad news is that Trump’s high disapproval ratings have also been stable in the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll.

Over the past nine weeks, Trump’s job disapproval rating has stayed been between 53 and 55 percent and his coronavirus handling disapproval rating between 53 and 56 percent. This past week’s survey pegged both at 54 percent.

Post-convention ‘bounce’

Trump’s lopsided approval numbers show he would greatly benefit from a so-called “convention bounce” at the conclusion of this week’s Republican National Convention, of which Trump is scheduled to make nightly appearances leading up to his acceptance speech for the party’s nomination Thursday.

An analysis by researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara shows most presidential candidates receive a single-digit uptick in polling numbers after their nationally televised party conventions. For example, Trump got a 3-point bump in the polls after the 2016 RNC, and challenger Hillary Clinton got a 2-point bump after the Democratic convention.

The largest-ever bounce, according to UCSB’s research, was Bill Clinton gaining 16 points after the 1992 DNC. Two candidates, though, 2004 Democrat John Kerry and 2012 Republican Mitt Romney, actually lost a point in the polls after their conventions.

Post-convention gains this year could be more muted for both Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, whose party wrapped up its convention last week, due to the lack of fanfare associated with the pandemic-hampered conventions.

Another thing that could hurt Trump’s chances for a convention bounce is that Monday’s RNC opening night was riddled with falsehoods from the President and others who made appearances.

A sampling of fact-checks from NBC News included a St. Louis woman’s false claim that Biden wants to “abolish the suburbs”; Trump’s false suggestion that Democrats want to get rid of the U.S. Postal Service; and Trump’s false claim that Biden wants to defund and disband police forces.

How the race stands in Ohio

As for the President’s chances of winning Ohio, the latest polling has him in a dead heat with Biden. A Civiqs poll of 637 registered voters, conducted Aug. 13-17 (before the Democratic convention), found Trump and Biden tied at 47 percent in Ohio. Four percent chose “other” and 2 percent were undecided.

The Civiqs poll’s margin of error, however, was 4.2 percentage points, leaving the race wide open.

Below is a list of Trump-versus-Biden head-to-head polls in 2020:

Biden and Trump have been trading the lead in the Buckeye State all year long. A stretch of five polls in June and July saw Biden take a small lead, but the latest polls show the race comfortably inside pollsters’ margins of error.

The best recent result for Trump was a 3-point advantage in a mid-to-late July Morning Consult poll of 1,741 likely voters and a 2.3-percentage point margin of error.

The presidential candidate that wins Ohio has ascended to the presidency in every election since 1964. And only twice since 1896 has Ohio’s winner not gone on to be president (Richard Nixon in 1960 and Thomas Dewey in 1944).

In 2016, Trump handily defeated Clinton by more than 450,000 votes – about 51 to 43 percent – to earn Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson got about 175,000 votes (3.17%) in 2016 and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got about 46,000 (0.84%).

The only Ohio poll so far this year that included third parties, a Zogby Analytics poll conducted July 21-23, found 4 percent of likely Ohio voters plan to vote for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen and 1 percent for Green candidate Howie Hawkins.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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