Trump’s Support Keeps Slipping As Failures Mount
Failure is an orphan and Donald Trump is building a monument to failure. His signature promise to the American people was that he could make Washington work and he has had every opportunity to do so with unified Republican control of all the levers of power. And so far he has nothing to show for his vaunted leadership.
The promise to repeal and replace Obamacare has crashed and burned. At this point, Trump’s latest tack is to simply destroy the ACA and then hope that Congress can piece together some kind of solution at some point in the future. Let’s just say it is usually not smart politics to make things demonstrably worse for your voters when you have absolute power so that you can run on fixing those problems later. Republicans have been doing that for years while they were in the minority, but that plan is far more difficult when they are in the majority.
As I wrote earlier, the collapse of Trumpcare is liable to derail the entire Trump/GOP agenda and further fracture the already riven party. It is quite possible that we could get to November and the only thing that Trump would have to show for nearly a year in total control is the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and even that required busting Senate norms to get done.
All this not winning is being reflected in the polls. Last month, I wrote about how the level of strong support for Trump has slipped by over one third since he was inaugurated. According to the latest Washington Post poll, Trump’s approval rating is stuck in the mid-30s and disapproval is near 60%. Strong disapproval is near 50% and his favorability among independents has sunk to around 30%. According to 538, Trump’s approval has taken an amazing 14 point tumble since took office. Among Republicans, his support has slipped into the low 80s. In addition, only around one-third of Americans trust the President.
Support among Republicans still remains strong for Trump but not only is that support slipping but the intensity of the support is also collapsing. The number of self-identified Republicans is also falling which further mitigates his deteriorating support.
The next few months in Congress will probably be dominated by the messy business of crafting a budget to avoid a government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. Some of that will require working with Democrats which will further alienate the moderate and conservative elements of the Republican party and further infuriate the hard right base. Trump will probably not be a factor in those negotiations but he will certainly manage to create additional chaos with ridiculous tweets and more outrageous lies during the process.
Trump, as usual, will always try to distance himself from his failures. Last night he tweeted “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” as though he were totally removed from the process. Today, he called Republicans who opposed Trumpcare as “disloyal”. That kind of triangulation may have worked for Bill Clinton when he was working with a Republican Congressional majority. I don’t think it will work for Trump today.
As it becomes clear that there will not be much “winning”, I also expect the Russian investigation to also begin to weigh on his support. Right now, only about 10% of Republicans really believe that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Right now, to admit that happened would almost require abandoning Trump and his supporters are not prepared to do that yet, if ever. Even today, this number will probably never get close to 50% but it is possible to see that further revelations about Trump’s Russian connections and continued domestic policy failure could push that number up to around 30%, which would be significant.
The real danger is that Trump begins to feel the pressure of failure and lashes out in some unpredictable way to get a “win”. Whether this would be an attack on North Korea or an imposition of tariffs on imported goods or killing the Iran nuclear deal or some other hare-brained scheme is anyone’s guess.
Trump’s poll numbers are already near all-time lows and the prospects that there is any big legislative win on the horizon to help them recover is minimal. As legislative failures mount, Trump himself will continue to blame Congress and even Republicans, putting even more stress on their already horrific approval ratings. At some point, probably some time next year, Republicans will face the prospect of going into the 2018 election with a massively unpopular President, a failed agenda, and electoral attacks from the right and from the left. That will be a pretty uncomfortable place to be, especially for moderates who will have to thread the needle of keeping enough of Trump’s base happy to survive the primary and then pivot away from Trump to win the general.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on July 18, 2017.