A president or prime minister who doesn’t screw up the crisis management can currently count on a jump of about 10% in his or her approval rating. I am obviously not talking about Donald Trump here as the U.S. is facing an entire additional crisis right now (which is not the topic of this post). But Sebastian Kurz, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have all seen their ratings increase. So, what to do next?
It’s important not to rest on the high approval ratings because they will most likely fade away. History is full of impressive examples. After World War II, Winston Churchill was a hero and widely respected, yet went on to lose the elections. Voters thought that Labour would be better suited to address the domestic issues facing the country. George H. W. Bush had skyrocketing approval ratings of more than 90% after the first war in Iraq, only to lose reelection to a young, unknown governor from Arkansas named Bill Clinton. Voters preferred him over Bush to fix the economy. Go figure: Voters forget fast and they rarely turn out in droves to say thank you. Once the peak of the crisis is over, voters soon move on, want to turn the page and will have new worries. An incumbent therefore has to quickly reinvent himself and be seen addressing these new issues.