Midterm elections tend to follow a predictable script. The White House party loses seats in the Senate and especially in the House of Representatives. political scientists they call this a “presidential punishment”.

History, however, can only be a guiding force. There is not always an analogy with what happens in the present.

This year, we have a duly elected president in Joe Biden. We also have, however, a former president in Donald Trump, whose residence was raided by the FBI and who continues to falsely claim that the election he lost for another term was decided fraudulently.

This unusual situation is where we begin our look at the past political week, as we try to figure out what happens to presidential punishment when two presidents are in the spotlight.

Trump could cost the GOP control of Congress

Anyone who has read my articles on the midterms knows how skeptical I used to be about the Democrats’ chances in November. This belief was rooted in the history of presidential punishment. Sometimes, however, you have to look at the facts on the ground and realize that things are not what you think they were.

The Democrats have been gaining ground in their bid to hold onto the US Senate and House of Representatives, and Trump is likely to have a lot to do with it: overturning the normal midterm sanction with his own midterm sanction. .

Right now, the generic congressional ballot is basically even. If anything, Democrats have a slightly less than one point lead on average. Earlier this summer, Republicans held a roughly 3-point lead.

Many things have happened that may have caused this political shift, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the drop in gasoline prices.

But when you look at people’s search interests online, it’s easy to see that Trump is also playing a role. Biden and Trump they were basically even in the number of people searching for both men on Google during the first part of the year. However, over the last 90 days, Trump has received just under 60% of the searches that were for him or Biden. Over the past 30 days, more than 60% of such searches have been for Trump.

Seeing a former president have more people looking for him than the current president would be hard to imagine under other circumstances. Trump Y Barack Obama at this point in their presidencies they were approaching 90% of all search traffic between them and their predecessors.

The correlation is a high 0.7 (on a scale of -1 to +1) between Trump’s search percentage compared to Biden’s in a 14-day moving average and the Democratic margin on the generic ballot since the beginning of the year. It is a statistically significant relationship.

In other words, the more Trump is on people’s minds, the better the Democrats are doing.

Biden: As president, I will defend democracy 1:34This, of course, is not what the Republicans want. Although Biden has become more popular in the last month (I get to that further down), he still it’s not that popular. Presidents whose approval ratings are above 45% they tend to see their party lose a lot of seats in Congress.

However, Trump is even more unpopular than Biden. Your net favorability rating (favorable minus unfavorable) on a wall street journal poll last week it was -19 points, considerably worse than Biden’s -8 points.

And while you might think that Biden’s negative views would overshadow Trump’s negative views given who the current president is, that may not be the case.

look at one recent NBC News poll. When asked if their vote for Congress was meant to signal support for Biden or Trump, voters split 44% to 44%. In other words, the previous president and the current president play an equal role in the votes of the people.

What all of this means is that the Democrats may not lose many seats this time. Most forecasts for the House of Representatives indicate that they will keep their losses below 20 seats. They are the favorites (albeit slightly) to hold on to the Senate.

It’s an outcome Democrats should be happy to accept, given what typically happens in midterm elections.

Biden gains popularity

While Trump has been dominating the news, the man who currently holds the office of president has seen something unusual happen to his approval rating: It has risen as we head into the midterms.

Biden’s approval rating jumped 9 points from 31% to 40% in the last Quinnipiac University survey. Although the president’s rating on average has never been this low and his jump is probably not as high as 9 points, the poll is part of a trend.

Biden’s approval rating is up to around 42% in an average of polls. This is a rise of around 37% during the last 10 days of July. Biden has basically gained one point a week in his approval rating ever since.

To be clear, his approval rating stays at the bottom where presidents are historically at this time in their first terms.

But history is something that the Biden presidency does not follow perfectly. During a similar period during his presidencies, none of the last four presidents saw his approval ratings increase.

Trump is the most popular Republican, according to poll 0:49Now, it could be argued that Biden had nowhere to go but up, which is true up to a point. approval ratings tend to go back to 50% (ie, there is a reversion to the mean).

However, Biden has also been doing some popular things. A clear majority of voters passes the sweeping health care and climate bill he signed into law. They also approve of her paying off the student debt she did.

Also, it’s not like Biden has only been winning back voters within his base. Yes, her approval rating among Democrats has increased about 6 points in an average of polls. She has also jumped by a similar margin among independents.

This may explain why Democrats running for governor and senator in Pennsylvania are willing to appear in public with Biden. He’s someone who has high approval ratings among Democrats and isn’t as toxic to independents as he once was.

Of course, we will see in a few months how good a strategy it turns out to be. Biden’s approval rating is still not high, even if it is high. If Democrats end up losing control of both the House and Senate in November, they may regret any acceptance of the president.