Tapper: Will Trump's base ever leave him?

CNN's Jake Tapper speaks to a Republican pollster about just how loyal President Trump's base will continue to be amid multiple investigations.

Posted: Dec 16, 2018 10:57 AM
Updated: Dec 16, 2018 11:16 AM

First things first: The theme song of the week is the theme to "The Commish," composed by Mike Post.

Number of the week: A new Fox News poll finds that only 38% of voters said they would re-elect President Donald Trump if the election were held today. A majority, 55%, said they would vote for someone else.

That's in line with previous Fox News polls, which also found that a majority of voters wanted someone else to be president.

What's the point: The findings of Fox News are no surprise. The President has consistently had a negative net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating). The re-election question is merely an offshoot of that and indicates that voters are not very happy with Trump's job performance so far.

Despite the consistency of the negative polling results for Trump, I would be at least a little hesitant to read too much into them. Job growth from this point forward in his presidency is likely to be a more telling indicator.

The re-elect question (or some form of it) at this point in a president's first term has been almost laughably unpredictive of the actual election result. Americans said they wanted their president re-elected at this point in the 1980 and 1992 cycles. Both times the president would go on to lose. At this point in the 1984, 1996 and 2012 cycles, Americans said didn't want to re-elect the president. The president would go on to win.

Just once out of six times (in the 2004 cycle) since 1980 did the re-elect question prove to be predictive two years out.

That means Trump has time to turn around his sinking ship. In fact, it could be simpler for him to do so than we think.

All the President may need is for the economy to keep up its growth.

I've noted before how Trump's overall approval rating has generally lagged his economic approval rating. In November, for instance, the state of the economy was generally seen as good by voters, and Republicans still lost the House.

Historically, that makes sense. Job growth generally doesn't predict midterm election results. The first two years of job growth also don't do a good job of predicting a president's approval rating through this point into a term in the post-World War II era.

Presidential elections, though, are a totally different beast from midterm elections in terms of how the state of the economy affects them.

Let's examine the relationship between a president's re-election margin and job growth from this point (December two years before the election) forward to said election for each of the 10 presidents who have run for re-election since World War II. (Note: I'm excluding 1964 because President John F. Kennedy was assassinated later in his first term.)

It turns out there has been a clear correlation between said job growth and the ultimate election result.

If the economy has the same job growth over the final two years of Trump's first term as it has over the first two years (about 3%), history suggests Trump would be favored to win by a few points.

Remember, though, we're dealing with only 10 data points. Past trends may not hold. Moreover, the margin of error is wide enough that a Trump loss would be consistent with past data, even if job growth stayed steady. Part of Trump's chances will have to do with whether job growth is stronger in 2019 or 2020. Job growth closest to the election is more important (see 1980 for an example of this phenomenon).

With all those caveats, a maintenance of current levels of job growth in Trump's final two years could be enough to win him re-election.

I should point out that in addition to the final two years of job growth I tried to take into account a president's approval rating at this point in a term and job growth up to this point. The idea being that maybe it's important to consider that Trump is currently unpopular even with strong job growth. The only thing that clearly mattered in forecasting a president's re-election margin was the final two years of job growth.

Put another way, it's plausible that a continuing strong economy could boost Trump just in time to win, even though it hasn't helped him so far.

Of course if the economy goes south, it could be the nail in Trump's re-election coffin.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1085733

Reported Deaths: 19441
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1261201400
Cuyahoga1124072120
Hamilton801491206
Montgomery515591014
Summit47292946
Lucas42275788
Butler38396584
Stark32412907
Lorain25046481
Warren24313300
Mahoning21629588
Lake20725369
Clermont19803238
Delaware18537133
Licking16436212
Fairfield16230200
Trumbull16082468
Medina15309264
Greene15099244
Clark14017299
Wood13113189
Portage12890203
Allen11675232
Richland11382199
Miami10686217
Wayne8843211
Columbiana8816229
Muskingum8815133
Pickaway8582121
Marion8539135
Tuscarawas8487244
Erie7917154
Hancock6929127
Ross6858155
Ashtabula6830170
Geauga6697148
Scioto6417101
Belmont5920167
Union571048
Lawrence5560102
Jefferson5544151
Huron5439119
Darke5364123
Sandusky5359121
Seneca5290121
Athens520058
Washington5160109
Auglaize491984
Mercer480885
Shelby470093
Knox4495110
Madison436661
Putnam4287100
Fulton423969
Ashland423189
Defiance421097
Crawford3978107
Brown395057
Logan382376
Preble379898
Clinton372963
Ottawa367479
Highland355662
Williams340275
Champaign333458
Guernsey316253
Jackson312652
Perry295350
Morrow285639
Fayette282250
Hardin271464
Henry269366
Coshocton265357
Holmes2611101
Van Wert243763
Adams238552
Pike237734
Gallia235949
Wyandot231555
Hocking215462
Carroll191647
Paulding173340
Meigs144940
Noble133337
Monroe132342
Harrison108537
Morgan108523
Vinton83515
Unassigned02
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