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New poll finds Trump more popular than leading 2020 Democrats as their ratings slide downward


The president 'has a pretty high level of enthusiastic support'

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It seems like President Donald Trump may be the new "Teflon Don."

A new Monmouth University national poll finds that Trump's favorability rating is higher than that of the top Democrats running for president—even as Democrats prepare to impeach him. Among registered voters, the 45th president has a personal rating of 46 percent favorable and 52 percent unfavorable (net -6).

Here is how leading 2020 Democrats compare:

  • Joe Biden: 43 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable (net -7)
  • Bernie Sanders: 41 percent favorable, 54 percent unfavorable (net -13)
  • Elizabeth Warren: 40 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable (net -10)
  • Pete Buttigieg: 34 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable (net -1)
  • Mike Bloomberg: 26 percent favorable, 54 percent unfavorable (net -28)
  • Andrew Yang: 25 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable (net -3)

Of course, the president is better known than Buttigieg, Bloomberg, and Yang, which is part of the reason why his favorability rating is higher than their's. Interestingly, Trump's numbers are also better than those of candidates with near universal name recognition: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Democratic frontrunners' ratings are trending downward

At least one analyst argues that when accounting for other polls, Trump remains more unpopular than the 2020 Democrats, but that the Democratic contenders are not as popular as previous presidential candidates. Dhrumil Mehta posits at FiveThirtyEight that although the Monmouth survey shows Trump with a higher favorability overall than the Democratic front-runners, the intensity among those who view him unfavorably is much stronger than for any of the 2020 Democrats.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told me that if you look at the breakdown of "somewhat" and "very" favorable opinions for Trump and the Democratic candidates, "opinion about Trump is significantly more deeply held than opinion about any of the Democratic candidates right now." The same is true if you look at the breakdown of "somewhat" and "very" unfavorable opinions for Trump and the Democratic candidates — Trump is much more actively disliked.

As Mehta acknowledges though, voters' opinions are "pretty set" on Trump and still flexible with regards to the 2020 contenders. While this may appear promising on the surface for Democrats, it should be a troubling sign for the Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg campaigns that Trump's ratings have been so stable in light of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage surrounding the impeachment inquiry and that his re-election campaign has barely begun running negative ads against them.

FiveThirtyEight also has a chart showing that since January, Trump's net favorability numbers (the difference between his favorable and unfavorable ratings) have been consistently lower than those of the 2020 Democratic frontrunners; however, the analysts concede that the figures for Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg "have trended downward recently."

Trump "has a pretty high level of enthusiastic support"

FiveThirtyEight also points out that Trump's supporters are more enthusiastic than any of the Democrats' voters.

Trump may be less popular than his prospective Democratic opponents overall, he has a pretty high level of enthusiastic support — 32 percent of respondents said they had a "very" favorable opinion of him in an average of the last two months of polls. No Democratic contender has earned marks as high.

Mehta adds that this could all change once Democrats settle on a nominee. "[T]he eventual Democratic nominee could end up even more unpopular than Trump — or maybe with an even more loyal fan base."

It is unclear at this point, however, it appears from the polling that we can expect Trump's numbers to remain relatively stable for now and that Democrats are more vulnerable to movements that could work either for or against them.

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