Trump might want to stop comparing this moment to four years ago

There’s definitely something weird about Donald Trump and his supporters constantly asking Americans if they were better off four years ago. Four years ago in April, almost no one in America was in a better situation than they are today: Most of the country was still in the midst of restrictions implemented at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and even those who were not were likely to suffer. catch the virus.

What Trump could say, on the other hand, is something most presidential challengers haven’t been able to say: Were you better off when I was president? This is of course the subtext of the “four years ago” question, but in this case the former is preferable for a very powerful reason.

Four years ago, the election was disrupted by specific issues that were undeniably bad for Trump.

On Friday, the Associated Press released new polling data collected by NORC. On a number of issues, Americans said Trump’s presidency was more helpful than Joe Biden’s.

On abortion and climate change, people were more likely to say President Biden helped than Trump. The same goes for voting rights and election security. But on health care, the cost of living, job creation, foreign policy and the border? Trump had the advantage.

Comparing results within their own parties, Trump’s advantage was much greater. Democrats said Biden was more harmful on the net if we consider the cost of living and the border. Even on the question of job creation, where — assuming we’re talking about job growth, the usual measure — Biden outpaced Trump’s presidency, Trump has a large advantage within his party.

But what’s not included here are events that were powerful four years ago, like the pandemic and social justice protests. There are, of course, good reasons not to include them: the coronavirus, while still dangerous and widespread, is not the threat or public attention it was in April 2020. And it is not. There were no widespread protests triggering the back and forth that we have. seen during the summer of 2020. Including a question about the pandemic would have been interesting, sure, but it’s obvious why that’s not the case, given the realities of conducting a poll.

The extent to which the questions included are important to the election is of course a question in itself. Climate change, for example, is a top issue for many voters, but it tends to be low on lists of overall importance. What’s more, not all of these issues are equal. Of course, Trump has a big advantage on most of these issues, and Biden, while doing better than Trump, is underwater on abortion — but Biden’s advantage on Abortion will almost certainly play a more important role for many voters.

The Associated Press poll also asked people to rate how each president has helped a number of groups identified by religion, gender, race and income. Respondents believed Biden had done more for blacks, Hispanics and women. Trump had the advantage among most groups, particularly wealthy white men.

Notice the opinions on how presidents have managed to help Muslims. Biden has an advantage over Trump – but a majority said “neither” president had been helpful.

It’s not Muslim respondents proposing this assessment. But it is no less a reflection of the political moment, or at least of the way in which this moment is perceived. This is a much less advantageous moment for Biden than four years ago.

The dangers of being the incumbent. Now Trump can simply spout rhetoric from the outside, insisting (as he often does) that he would have handled everything much better than Biden. Many Americans react positively to this. But that’s also why Trump might want to stop comparing the current situation to four years ago – when he was outgoing president and the situation was much more dire.


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