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Coronavirus vs. Donald Trump: Will it Help or Hurt His Reelection?

Since the virus struck the nation with a vengeance, I have wondered if it eventually would increase or decrease President Trump’s chances for reelection. My curiosity led me to start compiling statistics on the virus’s daily changes from the CDC. My hypothesis is simple: as the number of new cases increases Trump’s popularity will decline.

Alternatively, as the President addresses the crisis, and is seen as a leader in a time of a crisis, his popularity would rise. A third possibility is that the crisis has no effect a all on his Presidency.

The CDC records several statistics regarding the virus: new daily cases, total number of cases, total deaths, and daily deaths. In examining the data, it was apparent the most important variable and where the chain begins is at the daily confirmed cases. New cases and daily deaths are reported each day by both print and television. And for the average person, the growing number of cases likely reflects the growing crisis all around all of us.

I have chosen the Presidential Job Approval rating (registered and likely voters) for a measure of Donald Trump’s popularity. The approval rating is the most accurate and important statistic in evaluating voters’ opinion of a president. (See Will the Economy Save Donald Trump?)

In the chart below, the gray line represents the daily job approval over the last 18 days. The orange bars denote the number of new cases for each of the same 18 days. During this period the number of daily new cases grew from 24 to 4,530, more than a 18,000% increase!

The average of all approval ratings during this 18 day period is 43.6%. At this point, we can’t determine whether the virus is having any effect on the President’s popularity. This is confirmed by correlation analysis, which although negative, is non-significant.

I will update this graph on a weekly basis and I encourage you to check back regularly. In the mean time, put in the comment section whether you believe or don’t believe the virus will help, hurt or will have no effect on Donald Trump’s election chances.

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