This week, for the first time in his presidency, Donald Trump had an approval rating that exceeded his disapproval rating. This has happened just as the battle for re-election gets underway. Historically presidents who have higher approval than disapproval ratings at this point in the election cycle tend to get re-elected.
How did this happen?
Liberals and left-leaning latte drinkers like myself seem to flatly refuse the possibility that Trump could ever be re-elected. The idea doesn’t make any sense to us. The “computer says No” and it says it loudly and clearly. But perhaps we should remember that those of us inside this bubble thought it impossible that he could be elected in the first place. Maybe our ideas on his re-election should be ignored, chucked in the bin or set on fire — probably all three.
The accepted wisdom inside our bubble is that events over the past four years, the tweets, the environmental policy and the general outlandish behaviour mean it is impossible that the Republicans could secure a second term in the White House.
But what if we are wrong?
The impeachment process was clearly a disaster for the Democrats. Many of us, including speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, saw this coming. The events, buffoonery and phone call to the Ukraine that led to the impeachment trial may have seemed clear-cut evidence of requiring drastic action to journalists and politicians on the left, but they seemed obscure and remote to the average voter. Exactly what Trump said during a phone call to the president of the Ukraine isn’t of huge importance when you aren’t 100% sure where the Ukraine is and whether it is a country or type of pastry popular in the 1970s. There wasn’t what people think of as a smoking gun. In fact there wasn’t even a gun. Or a knife. Or even a dead journalist or prostitute.
Furthermore, the involvement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s overly-privileged son muddied the water. His involvement made the issue seem like rich people with rich sons having a slappy fight in a five-star hotel suite, after which we (the normal people) will be expected to clean up and disinfect it.
The encounter just seemed to make the Democrats look petty. And it also did something potentially even worse — it gave endless exposure to Adam Schiff. He became the face of the Democratic Party. I have no idea whether Schiff is a good or bad, intelligent or unintelligent person, but I do know that he isn’t an especially likeable one. Nobody with any background in public relations would choose Schiff to be the face of anything. But perhaps the Democrats are now using the same public relations people that Prince Andrew is using. The same strategy is certainly being followed.
The other way in which the Democrats resolutely scored own goals with grim and admirable determination was the gorgeous and unending cock-up that was the Iowa primary. It has been unclear for some time exactly why Iowa hosts the first of the Democrat caucuses, but now it is clear. It’s so that they can make the party look like incompetent idiots. They did so gloriously, demonstrating simply and powerfully to voters that we liberals are incapable of organising anything, and that we should not be entrusted with running anything more complex than peeling a banana or feeding the cat.
So while there are many months left until the election, and there will be much pouting and posturing between now and election day, the Trump campaign is experiencing what must be a much-appreciated uptick in approval ratings at exactly the right time. And that seems to be largely thanks to the Democrats, who are doing everything in their power to ensure his re-election. The only way they could have helped more would have been to run television ads on his behalf and burn down the headquarters of the Democratic Party. Given the lack of political skills the occupants of that building have shown, perhaps burning it down could be the best thing the Democrats could do.
John Davenport works for an advertising and communications company. These are his own views