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4 in 5 Voters Say the US Is on the “Wrong Direction” Under Trump

The right/wrong direction question isn’t a foolproof predictor, but it can provide insights into voters’ moods.

President Trump, wearing a white "Make America Great Again" hat, looks on after stepping off Air Force One on July 26, 2020.

A poll published over the weekend has some bad news for President Donald Trump: Most Americans, by a wide margin, believe we’re headed in the “wrong direction.”

According to an Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, just 20 percent of respondents think the United States is headed in the right direction. Conversely, a whopping 80 percent of the country says the U.S. is going down the wrong track.

A record-high number of respondents in the poll gave Trump bad marks since he became president, likely due to his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Just 32 percent of Americans approve of how Trump has handled COVID-19, while 68 percent say they disapprove of his response. The poll also found that 38 percent approve of the president’s overall performance, with 61 percent saying they disapprove.

The “right direction, wrong direction” poll, which is frequently used by many national polling organizations, is seen by some political pundits as a signal for how the incumbent party will fare during a presidential election year.

For example, when Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, ran for president against Trump in 2016, polls found that roughly 20 to 30 percent of voters felt the country was headed in the right direction, even as then-President Barack Obama, also a Democrat, earned high marks from the public. Clinton lost the Electoral College to Trump in a tight national race.

However, experts have also warned that there isn’t enough data to conclude whether this polling data can predict what will happen in November.

Indeed, in 2012, a similar poll found that 55 percent of Americans felt the country was going down the wrong path — and yet, Obama was able to win reelection.

However, the recent AP/NORC poll suggests Trump faces an uphill battle in the coming months in the race against presumptive Democratic Party challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, with 46 percent of respondents saying Biden is their preferred candidate and only 34 percent saying they want Trump to serve another term.

Other polls show the incumbent isn’t doing well in important statewide races like in Florida or North Carolina, two states which Trump won in 2016. Even Texas, which Trump won last election, could possibly become a swing state in this year’s presidential race.

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