First things first: The theme song of the week is from the television show Domestic Life starring Martin Mull.
Poll of the week: A new Pew Research Center poll finds President Donald Trump with a 40% approval rating and 55% disapproval rating. The same survey gives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a 40% approval rating and 46% disapproval rating.
This Pew poll is generally in-line with other polls showing both Trump and Pelosi with higher disapproval than approval ratings (i.e. negative net approval ratings).
What’s the point: Americans don’t like their leaders. We just had a presidential election in 2016 in which the major party nominees were the two least-liked presidential candidates of all time.
But I would argue that it could be a lot worse. Why? Take a look at what’s happening over in the United Kingdom, where Parliament is trying and failing to pass a deal to exit the European Union.
Prime Minister Theresa May is quite unpopular. An average of recent polls puts her net approval rating (approval rating - disapproval rating) at -33 points. For comparison, the average US poll currently puts Pelosi’s net approval at -9 points and Trump’s net approval at -10 points.
Now, you might think that this would provide an easy opening for opposition party leader Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn to rally the country behind Labour and him.
May, though, could not have dreamed up a better opponent.
Corbyn is somehow even more unpopular than May is. His net approval rating in an average of recent polls is -45 points. To put that into some context, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer held a -30 point net approval rating after he resigned following a 2008 sex scandal in which he cheated on his wife with a prostitute.
Recent polls illustrate the tough spot this puts UK voters in. More Britons prefer May over Corbyn to be the prime minister, which explains why May’s Conservative Party leads Labour in parliamentary polling. A plurality of Britons, however, answer that “none of these” or “don’t know” (if none of these isn’t offered as an option) when asked whether they want Corbyn or May to lead them. (Note that Britons don’t vote directly for prime minister, only for their own member of Parliament. Prime ministers are generally from the largest party in Parliament, elected leader of their party through a contest of some form and appointed to the post of Prime Minister by the Queen.)
The dynamic of a plurality of voters preferring someone who is not either of the two major party leaders is very different than what we see in America. During the 2016 election, a majority of voters liked at least one of the two major party candidates. In the exit polls, 18% of voters held an unfavorable view of both Hillary Clinton and Trump. This was a fairly large section of the public who disliked both major party nominees by stateside standards, though it seems downright small compared to what we’re seeing across the pond.
The lack of like (let alone love) for either Corbyn or May helps explain why those in the UK have no faith in parliament during their negotiations over how exactly to leave the EU. According to an analysis of UK polling by polling expert Sir John Curtice, less than 10% of Britons think that the negotiations will end in a “good deal”.
To give you an idea of how low that is, about the same percentage of Americans believe that the United States government faked the moon landing.
Therefore, it may not be surprising that a plurality of Britons want another chance to vote on whether to “Brexit.” That is quite the turnaround from the summer of 2016, right after the referendum vote, when the vast majority of voters did not want another vote.
An average of polling reveals that Britons would now vote to remain in the EU – a reversal of the decision they made in 2016.
Of course, whether Britons will actually ever get the chance to vote again remains very much up in the air. The ball is in Parliament’s court for now.
The good news for Americans is they don’t need to worry about anything like Brexit happening on this side of the Atlantic. For one thing, there is no national system for holding a referendum.
Instead, the only election for which Americans have the same race on the ballot in all 50 states is for president. Americans may not end up liking the choices in 2020 (just like in 2016), but we’re far more likely to enjoy our options than those in the UK.