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Nothing makes sense any more


Two things: The bizarre and shocking facts above — or more precisely, the facts that would be shocking if we retained the ability to be shocked, which we clearly don’t — are far, far down the list of reasons to be horrified by the prospect of Trump’s second seizure of the presidency.

How do we even begin to make sense of this?

Donald Trump continues to hold an advantage over President Joe Biden as the campaign – and the former president’s criminal trial – move forward, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. And in the coming rematch, opinions about the first term of each man vying for a second four years in the White House now appear to work in Trump’s favor, with most Americans saying that, looking back, Trump’s term as president was a success, while a broad majority says Biden’s has so far been a failure.

Trump’s support in the poll among registered voters holds steady at 49% in a head-to-head matchup against Biden, the same as in CNN’s last national poll on the race in January, while Biden’s stands at 43%, not significantly different from January’s 45%.

Looking back, 55% of all Americans now say they see Trump’s presidency as a success, while 44% see it as a failure. In a January 2021 poll taken just before Trump left office and days after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, 55% considered his time as president a failure.

Assessing Biden’s time in office so far, 61% say his presidency thus far has been a failure, while 39% say it’s been a success. That’s narrowly worse than the 57% who called the first year of his administration a failure in January 2022, with 41% calling it a success. . . .

Negative views of Biden’s work in office have held for much of his presidency. In the new poll, 60% disapprove of his handling of the job and 40% approve, about the same as it’s been in CNN polling for more than a year. Even Biden’s strongest issue approval ratings in the poll are also in negative territory, with 45% approving of his handling of health care policy and 44% approving his handling of student loan debt. And his worst issue approval rating  – for his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza – yields 28% approval to 71% disapproval, including an 81% disapproval mark among those younger than 35 and majority disapproval among Democrats (53%). . . .

A broad majority of all Americans, 70%, say economic conditions in the US are poor, with many, particularly Republicans, who feel that way saying their views would be more affected by a political shift than a change in the economy itself. About 4 in 10 in that group (41%) say that a change in political leadership in Washington would do more to change their impressions of the economy than a lower rate of inflation, a change in their personal financial situation or a sustained rise in the stock market. About 6 in 10 Republicans (61%) who say the economy is in bad shape say a change in leadership would shift their views, compared with 13% of Democrats who feel that way.

After politics, a decline in the rate of inflation could change the minds of a sizable share of those who feel the economy is in bad shape – 37% feel that way, with far fewer citing a positive change in their personal finances (14%) or a rise in the stock market (3%) as having that same effect.

Americans’ perceptions of their own finances also remain negative, with 53% saying they are dissatisfied with their personal financial situation while 47% are satisfied.Dissatisfaction is starkly prevalent among those with lower incomes (67% dissatisfied in households with annual incomes lower than $50,000), people of color (64% say they are dissatisfied) and younger Americans (61% of those younger than 45 say they are dissatisfied).

There’s a lot to digest here, but for now I want to focus on what remains the best reason for optimism: This is only a snapshot of public sentiment six months before an election. Most people, including most voters, pay almost no attention to politics, and as a consequence are astoundingly uninformed about what, to a politically aware and engaged person, seem like the most basic possible facts.

It follows from this that their ideas about Donald Trump are nothing but vague memories of things that happened years ago, while their ideas about Joe Biden are literally a function of the fact that nominal food and gas prices are much higher than they were four years ago.

Nothing else makes any sense.

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