The Small Difference Between Two Large Numbers

small change

A common business-related adage holds that profit (or loss) is the small difference between two large numbers: costs and gross revenues Likewise, in American politics these days, victory or loss likewise tends to turn on the small difference between two large numbers: Republican partisans and Democratic partisans.

Two days ago, Reuters informed us that

The number of Americans who approve of President Donald Trump dropped by 3 percentage points to the lowest level of the year following the release of a special counsel report detailing Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll.

The poll, conducted Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, is the first national survey to measure the response from the American public after the U.S. Justice Department released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report that recounted numerous occasions in which Trump may have interfered with the investigation.

According to the poll, 37 percent of adults in the United States approved of Trump’s performance in office, down from 40 percent in a similar poll conducted on April 15 and matching the lowest level of the year. That is also down from 43 percent in a poll conducted shortly after U.S. Attorney General William Barr circulated a summary of the report in March.

I hope that is true that Trump’s support has dropped to 37 percent; we’ll have to wait for further polling to see whether this is borne out. Maybe it will drop even a little more. Or maybe it won’t. We will just have to see.

37 percent is still an astonishingly high number, under all the circumstances.

But astonishingly high as it is, it isn’t enough to win many states in 2020.