Under the radar: Data show big shift in voters’ favorable perception of Trump

While a 2020 presidential rematch appears almost inevitable, a majority of voters express disapproval for either Biden (61%) or Trump (53%) running again, according to the latest HarrisX poll.  This marks a significant shift from an August 2022 report, where Biden had 60% disapproval and Trump had 70%.  Favorability statistics further indicate an increasing acceptance of Trump's potential return to the White House in November.

In a head-to-head comparison, Trump is gradually surpassing Biden's favorability ratings, a trend rarely observed before.  Real Clear Politics reports the current spread:

Joe Biden Favorable 38.9 Unfavorable 55.6 (-16.7) and Donald Trump Favorable 39.9 Unfavorable 55.3 (-15.4).

Simultaneously, the generic congressional vote is trending toward Republicans (+1.5%), and Trump leads Biden by 1.6 points in current head-to-head polling.  This shift is remarkable, considering that Trump lost the popular vote by 4.5 points in 2020.

The August figures for Biden were influenced by concerns about the economy, his handling of foreign policy, and his age.  Voters’ personal economic perceptions remain stagnant, with 59% advising that Trump would do a better job than Biden at 39%.  Biden faces foreign policy challenges from various factions, on the left and right, and Biden's age and perceived cognitive decline persist as significant factors.

Contrastingly, Trump's image was tainted by the events of 1/6 and his confrontational demeanor.  Over time, the impact of 1/6 has diminished, and Trump is perceived to have moderated his approach, despite ongoing court cases.  Republicans view these legal challenges as attempts by the left to unfairly remove him, contributing to Trump's rise in primary polling and favorability.

With Trump's seeming inevitability as the Republican candidate and anticipated support from various quarters, negativity surrounding his potential return may further dissipate.  The acceptance factor of his return to office is poised to become entrenched, shaping the dynamics of the upcoming presidential race.

If the betting odds, where people put actual money down, not X comments, can further be taken of an indication of Trump’s changing fortunes, his striking leap into a double-digit lead over Biden after the Iowa caucuses may be another reinforcement.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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