More on the Lack of a Rally Effect for Trump

Some global comparisons.

“#UNGA” by The White House is in the Public Domain

As I have noted in two recent posts, it is typically expected that in times of crisis executives get boosts in popularity. This is typically because at times of crisis national governments get the opportunity to demonstrate some level of support or aid that the public appreciates.

While we have seen some rallying around governors in the US, Trump only experienced a very small (and temporary) bump in approval. One posits that this is because the federal government has done very little to demonstrate actions of consequence in regards to the pandemic. It also underscores how locked in views of Trump are.

The Economist provides some comparative examples to underscore this point (Covid-19 has given most world leaders a temporary rise in popularity):

Trump’s slight bump is evidence, as is the overall steadiness of his status in US politics.

Regardless, most leaders saw a bump in approval, and some a fairly significant one. Other, not so much.

Academics call this pattern the “rally-round-the-flag” effect. It has often benefited American presidents during international crises. Studies have found that surging patriotism and meeker opposition both contribute. Yet not all catastrophes are a boon. George W. Bush’s lacklustre response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 punctured his ratings. Tony Blair’s fell after Islamists bombed London in 2005, as did François Hollande’s after the Paris attacks in 2015. Perhaps voters felt they had failed to police domestic terrorism well, whereas Americans saw the attacks in 2001 as an act of war.

[…]

Today, voters have rallied round leaders who took covid-19 seriously. The largest bounces are in Australia, Canada and Germany, where death rates have been low among rich Western countries. Despite France’s bad outbreak, a solemn Emmanuel Macron has gained some credit. Britons got behind Boris Johnson at first. A recent dip may reflect fears that a tardy lockdown led to thousands of extra deaths.

As the story notes, the ones who have done poorly are the ones perceived to have bungled the Covid-19 response in some way (or, in the case of Bolsanaro, dismissed the issue altogether).

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Donald Trump, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    I wonder why El PITO hasn’t tried to apply a tariff to the virus.

    ON a serious note, His Majesty’s Manuel Andres I approval numbers are ludicrous. He has bungled testing more than even Trump. Really, as of yesterday, under 150,000 tests in a country of over 120 million. That’s one test per 800 people, if my math is right.

    3
  2. Scott O says:

    It’s shocking to me that his approval is still so high and steady. I’ve been in a state of shock since November 2016.

    10
  3. CSK says:

    @Scott O:
    Trump leads a cult. He’ll never lose his hardcore followers. They have far too much invested in him emotionally.

    6
  4. Ken_L says:

    I don’t think Morrison’s jump reflects a ‘rally around the flag’ effect. He started from a fairly low approval rating, but took decisive, effective action both to stop the spread of the virus and to provide extensive financial support to workers and employers affected by the lockdowns. There’s been none of the grudging half measures one normally associates with conservative governments which feel they have to approve new welfare assistance in a crisis.

    Of course the other side of the coin is that the states have implemented equally strong measures without any of the usual state/federal bickering. The result has been a remarkably low death toll, which Australians can’t help comparing to the apparently endless bad news from America and Europe. In short, an unpopular prime minister rose to the challenge of an unprecedented crisis in exemplary fashion, and most Australians are willing to give him credit for it.

    7
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    trump has never done anything but divide. It is hardly surprising that in the midst of this crisis, he is incapable of uniting.

    7
  6. @CSK:

    They have far too much invested in him emotionally.

    The main issue is that people have too much invested emotionally in their party affiliation and that explains the overall number.

    Although I do agree that he has a hardcore base that is also invested in him personally.

    5
  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Scott O:
    @CSK:

    Cult45 will never abandon him, but there will be fewer of them by November. Unfortunate for them, their family and friends.

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    And he continues to use division even today. It is the only tool in his repertoire.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The main issue is that people have too much invested emotionally in their party affiliation and that explains the overall number.

    This was apparent with several friends who are rethugs, they were appalled by Tiny at the time of the nomination, but voted for him in November and approve of the judges and tax cuts while diminishing the craziness. Though they are now giving him F’s for the Feds Covid 19 response. Their justification for voting for Tiny was that he wasn’t Hillary, so it will be interesting come November how they vote.

    2
  8. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, they can’t exactly refuse to vote for Biden on the grounds that Biden is a molester of women, can they, given Trump’s decades-long record of forcing himself on women.

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Have you ever seen a fan club that is quite as dedicated as Cult45? Even back when they were Palinistas, as besotted as they were with her, it didn’t reach the levels of their adoration of Trump.

    2
  9. @CSK:

    Have you ever seen a fan club that is quite as dedicated as Cult45? Even back when they were Palinistas, as besotted as they were with her, it didn’t reach the levels of their adoration of Trump.

    He has a following, but if we take the sum total of the unique attendees of Trump rallies we are a mere fraction of what it takes to account for 44% approval.

    The rally people in their MAGA hats aren’t 44% of the population. His basic support is from people who identify at Republican and who see no other place to go and so rationalize support.

    3
  10. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Oh, of course. I’m not arguing that. My point is that I’ve never seen the kind of relentless, irrational devotion Trump inspires in some of his followers. The total denial of reality is alarming. They’re not reluctantly accepting him, warts and all; they really think he’s the best president we’ve ever had. Check out some of the loons at Lucianne.com or The Conservative Treehouse or Gateway Pundit some time.

    4
  11. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK:

    That devotion is a typical feature of highly eccentric leaders. Their nature creates an emotional response so they are either loved or hated….”feared” might be a better word. Not many people find it easy to be neutral on the stridently odd, hardly any on the stridently odd that is perceived to have power over them.

    The emotion allows the formation of cult mentality. From there it’s absolute power, and if the leader is a real sick puppy followers typically have to learn the hard way. It’s no mystery that after Hitler the Germans have a preference for remarkably boring leaders.

    1
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is one thing that has reassured me the country may not be lost. Everyone talks about how solid Trump’s support is. Yes, solidly 42-43%. Never 50, let alone 55 or 60. He is solidly, permanently disliked, even despised, by most Americans.

    1
  13. senyorDave says:

    One thing that I am encouraged about is that I find that most people who don’t like Trump really dislike him a lot. I saw a poll recently that Obama’s approval rating seems to have settled in to a consistent 55% – 60% range. Makes sense since Trump’s approval rating is generally in the 40% – 45% range. I suspect those two universes are pretty much mutually exclusive. I don’t think Trump ever goes much below 40%. What is the old adage for politicians – don’t get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy? If Trump were caught in bed with a dead sheep while wearing a ball gag, maybe then he would sink to a 35% approval.

    1
  14. CSK says:

    @senyorDave:
    I’m not sure about the dead sheep and the ball gag causing Trump’s approval ratings to drop to 35%. His hardcore fans would either ignore the revelation or simply dismiss it as Fake News. I have to give Trump credit–very grudging credit–for coming up with that Fake News mantra. He furnished Cult45 with the perfect way to discount any appalling revelations about him.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK:

    Have you ever seen a fan club that is quite as dedicated as Cult45?

    VE Day was 75 years ago last Friday, Hitler having killed himself a week earlier. Up to the end a lot of Germans were sure Hitler would pull off a miracle, wonder weapons, new forces from somewhere, fate, whatever. From occupying most of Continental Europe they had been driven back inside their own borders, the Russians were in Berlin, their cities had been bombed to rubble, they were drafting children and old men, and the faithful still believed.

  16. Barry says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “Their justification for voting for Tiny was that he wasn’t Hillary, so it will be interesting come November how they vote.”

    Most will vote for him again. Just copy and paste ‘Biden’ for ‘Hillary’.

    It’s the minority, the redeemable ones, who will be important.

  17. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    Indeed. You’re quite right. I should have specified in the United States, in recent memory. People loved FDR, and, though I don’t personally recall this, grief over JFK’s assassination was said to be universal. But the adoration of Trump and the utter refusal of Cult45 to acknowledge reality is new to me.

  18. Barry says:

    @senyorDave: ” If Trump were caught in bed with a dead sheep while wearing a ball gag, maybe then he would sink to a 35% approval.”

    You mean a Deep State FBI ‘sheep’ and a DemoCrap ball gag.

    1
  19. @CSK:

    But the adoration of Trump and the utter refusal of Cult45 to acknowledge reality is new to me.

    I think you could see some similar behavior in Tea Party gatherings.

    I think you can also find assorted other examples. Televangelists’ followers come to mind.

    Trump fuels it all because he is a true demagogue who loooooves those rallies.

  20. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I’ve commented a few times that before Trump, there was Palin. The adoration for her was extreme, but not, at least in my view, as acute as that focused on Trump. She certainly paved the way for him, though.

    1
  21. Kylopod says:

    @CSK:

    I have to give Trump credit–very grudging credit–for coming up with that Fake News mantra.

    He didn’t invent the phrase. (I’m not sure that you were implying that he did, but it’s still an important point to make.) Before he ever uttered the words, “fake news” was coined as the name of the phenomenon in which pure hoaxes are passed around as real news stories on social media. Most of these hoaxes have been right-wing–in fact, they are the key feature of the Russian interference campaign in the 2016 election. Trump’s contribution was to co-opt the term, and it has had the effect of practically erasing the real issue from the national conversation.

    Trump actually didn’t start using the phrase until after the election. Throughout 2016 there were many serious articles examining the phenomenon of fake news, such as this one:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/29/facebook-trending-news-editors-fake-news-stories

  22. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    Trump has a gift for appropriating slogans and passing them off as his own, as when he took Reagan’s “Make America Great,” added “Again” to it, and copyrighted/trademarked it.