On August 27, 2019, President Donald Trump held a 41.3 percent approval rating and a 54.2 percent disapproval rating, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll tracker. During the 365 days that followed, Trump became the third president impeached by the House of Representatives; America assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani; more than 200,000 Americans died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus; the unemployment rate rose from 3.7 percent to 10.2 percent; the US banned incoming travel from Europe, China, and Brazil; an estimated 12 million people lost health insurance coverage; Trump pardoned Roger Stone, who was facing jail time for dirty tricks on the president’s behalf; and George Floyd’s murder sparked a nationwide movement protesting for racial justice — to which officials responded by tear-gassing demonstrators in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC, so Trump could pose for a photograph holding a Bible.
That is, of course, a bitterly incomplete list of a grimly consequential year in American history. But you’d never know it simply by following Trump’s poll numbers. On August 27, 2020 — one year later, and the day Trump used the White House as a backdrop for his convention speech — FiveThirtyEight had Trump at 42.2 percent approval and 54.3 percent disapproval. Everything had happened, and politically, nothing had mattered. Or, at the least, not much had changed.