Despite a turbulent year overturned by the coronavirus pandemic and protests against racial injustice – both of which the president did not take well, critics claim Donald Trump’s approval rating is now higher than it was this time last year.
On November 2, almost 45 percent of Americans voted for the president, compared with around 41 percent between November 1 and 3, 2019, according to data from the poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight.
Compared to his highest approval rating in the past four years, Trump’s current rating is only 0.8 percent below its peak. He received his highest rating on January 23, 2017, the Monday after his inauguration.
Among recent presidents, Trump’s net approval rate is only higher than that of George H. W. Bush at the end of his presidency, according to the FiveThirtyEight data. Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each remained cheaper than Trump during their two terms in office, according to the website.
Last year, Trump’s highest approval rate was at the end of March, when the majority of states had largely closed due to the coronavirus.
However, with the transition to the summer and the nationwide protests against Black Lives Matter, the president seems to have fallen from grace. His highest disapproval this year came a month after the death of George Floyd.
The Trump administration was criticized both for its handling of the pandemic and for its response to the national unrest surrounding police brutality in America.
Trump sent out mixed messages about the pandemic. He faced widespread backlash earlier this year because he called COVID-19 “the China virus” and suggested people inject bleach for treatment – a statement he later called a joke.
In the fall, journalist Bob Woodward published an exposé book about the president and his administration, stating that Trump had deliberately played down the severity of the corona virus in hopes of re-election. A few weeks later, Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized for three days at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
According to a recent YouGov survey, 42 percent of participants said they approved of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, and 56 percent said they disapproved. Of those surveyed, 39 percent said they were confident that he could handle the pandemic, while 56 percent felt uncomfortable.
Regarding race relations, an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll last month showed that a larger number of registered voters thought that Democratic candidate Joe Biden would handle the issue better than Trump. 56 percent voted Biden as the candidate best suited to regulate race relations in the U.S., compared to 35 percent who voted for Trump.
The two candidates have taken different approaches to the Black Lives Matter protests.
While Biden said there was “systemic injustice” in law enforcement, Trump focused on law and order.
The president faced a backlash in June after BLM demonstrators in Lafayette Square near the White House were stunned with tear gas by federal officials before Trump went through the park for a photo shoot at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump was again criticized during the first presidential debate when he failed to explicitly condemn the white racists.
Trump hopes to win a second term in this year’s presidential election.