We've totally forgotten 2016's lessons about polls

Why are we still talking about Trump's approval rating?

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Neil Hall - Pool/Getty Images, Aerial3/iStock, Screenshot/New York Times)

We've reached that point in the 2020 election season (when did it begin, by the way?) at which there is still way too much time between now and the first primary contests. All the early dropouts are gone; we have more or less exhausted our appetite for the TV debate equivalent of 12-course meals. All we have left are polls.

That doesn't mean we need to talk about them. Does anyone think it is of any importance whatsoever that Donald Trump's approval rating is hovering somewhere around 42 percent, i.e., a point higher than Barack Obama's was at this point in his first term? People telling you that he is doomed because of this are liars or fools or both (the two are rarely, if ever, mutually exclusive). If anything, one might be inclined to think that a president who can manage to win the unabashed approval of just under half the American people despite three years of almost uniformly negative media coverage, frivolous partisan investigations, and the binning of every discourse-related norm imaginable might prove to be a very formidable candidate indeed. But what do I know? I'm one of those idiots who thought Trump would win Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio last time.

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Matthew Walther

Matthew Walther is a national correspondent at The Week. His work has also appeared in First Things, The Spectator of London, The Catholic Herald, National Review, and other publications. He is currently writing a biography of the Rev. Montague Summers. He is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow.