Things are looking better for President Donald Trump than they were when the year began. The latest evidence is that 54% of voters nationwide now believe it is at least somewhat likely the president will be reelected in 2020. That's up from 50% a month ago and 46% in early February.
Obviously, there's a long way to go until Election Day. And we won't really have a good handle on the race until we know the state of the economy next year and whom the Democrats nominate to challenge Trump.
Still, it's worth considering why things are looking better for the president. It's not because people are revising their opinion of him: His job approval rating has remained steady in the mid-40s.
But it's interesting to note that expectations for President Trump have improved alongside a growing perception that Congress is moving to the left politically. Forty-four percent now believe Congress is too liberal, while 36% say it's too conservative. That's a complete reversal from before the 2018 elections.
That may help explain why both former President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have expressed concerns about their party drifting too far to the left ideologically. Their party's loudest voices might best be described as 20-percenters because they advocate proposals supported by about 20% of the population (or less).
For example, Sen. Bernie Sanders is promoting a health care plan sometimes called "Medicare for All." Rhetorically, it taps into a deeply held belief that every American should have access to quality health care. But the Sanders plan thinks the way to make that happen is by getting rid of private health insurance companies and requiring everyone to go through the federal government for medical care. While many Democratic presidential hopefuls have signed on to the plan, only 17% of voters agree.
Then there's the Green New Deal, which progressives envision as a tool for having the federal government transform the entire economy. While concern about the environment is real, voters tend to think private-sector innovation is the most likely source of solutions. Just 18% believe the threat of climate change makes it necessary to give the federal government sweeping new powers to control the economy.
This past weekend, many Democratic presidential contenders pledged support for the concept of paying cash reparations to descendants of slaves. Twenty percent of voters are supportive.
Progressives in the House of Representatives prevented passage of a proposed federal budget because it didn't increase spending enough. But just 18% of voters believe increased government spending is good for the economy.
On a different topic, the loudest Democrats are voicing support for allowing abortions at any point during a pregnancy. Only 12% of voters agree.
Beyond specific issues, the attitudes being voiced by many progressive Democrats seem almost designed specifically to antagonize Midwestern voters. Twenty percent of all voters consider owning a gun immoral, and 20% believe it is immoral to call for limits on government. Eleven percent think eating meat and having children are also immoral.
Clearly, not all — or even most — Democrats embrace these extreme views. And it's far from certain that the Democrats will nominate a candidate who shares them. But for now, the Democratic 20-percenters are boosting President Trump's prospects for Election 2020.