Trying Times Associated with Higher Presidential Approval Rates

Where were you on September 11th, 2001? How about when you found out Osama bin Laden was killed? For most people, a pretty clear image comes to mind when picturing their location during these events. But what about March 11th, 2020? Do you think the image of your location when COVID-19 was announced as a global pandemic will be just as clear as these other images ten years from now?

Each of these events marked the presidencies of the men serving at that time, and each president saw a spike in their approval from the American public following these occasions. For both George W. Bush and Donald Trump, the approval ratings following these events were the highest over their terms in office. Ironic how such negative moments in history seem to bring about support for our leaders. Given these patterns, it’s interesting to take a look at the spikes over President Trump’s time in office. While the year 2020 could likely support its own analysis, Trump was a president who stands apart from a majority of his predecessors, so it’s worthwhile to first examine his presidency as a whole.

The above chart depicts the approval ratings from the Trump presidency; the green line shows the percentage of those who approve while the red shows that of those who disapprove. Even from the beginning, President Trump’s numbers set him apart from the previous two presidents. While Bush and Obama both started out with approval ratings much higher than their disapproval rating, Trump started at a relatively even 45/43 split. From here, his numbers stayed relatively stagnant; only increasing by a little over 2% and the peak and falling 9% at the lowest point. However, his presidency was also clearly marked by various events as these relative peaks and pitfalls are quite clear. Unprofessional tweets, the Special Council Investigation, the death of George Floyd, and the riots at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 were just some of the events that marked the Trump presidency and this graph clearly shows just how strongly America felt in response.