The betting markets and statistical models of the 2020 election suggest Trump is either likely or very likely to lose. I have no reason to doubt this, but it is interesting to look back at the history of his approval ratings.
Trump’s approval trended down throughout his first year in office, with low points in the summer (Charlottesville, Obamacare repeal) and winter (highly unpopular corporate tax cut). He finished the year with approval around 37 or 38%. In 2018, his approval rose from the high 30s to the low 40s, with a dip in September to around 40% corresponding to the Mannafort prosecution and Kavanaugh fiasco. In January 2019 his approval briefly dipped below 40% due to the month long government shutdown. Since then his approval has bounced around from 41 to 43%, with a surge to 46% in March 2020 due to a relatively small coronavirus “rally around the flag” effect, before falling to around 41% over the past couple of months due to some combination of COVID and his response to the George Floyd murder and the BLM protests. So right now, Trump’s approval is not all that much lower than it has been the past couple of years, and it’s still higher than it was during the highly unpopular policy actions Republicans took while they controlled Congress in 2017. That’s interesting, to me anyway. COVID and Trump’s racist response to the police brutality protests is less of a problem for him than Charlottesville/Obamacare were.
Turning to polls of the contest between Trump and Biden, Biden has been fairly stable since March, at around 50%, and Trump has declined by about 4 points to 41.5%.