Democracy Dies in Darkness

Opinions

Trump’s decline creates a quandary for Republicans on the ballot

By Jennifer Rubin

September 12, 2018 at 10:15 AM

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As Congress abdicates its role, columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. says voters must take up the role of checking President Trump. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

CNN (36 percent), Quinnipiac (38 percent), and Gallup (40 percent) all recently reported lousy approval ratings for President Trump. We don’t yet know if this is statistical “noise,” or whether the combination of Bob Woodward’s book, the anonymous New York Times op-ed, the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea have cumulatively taken a toll on Trump’s support.

These rotten numbers come despite another strong jobs report, highlighting the depth of the president’s unpopularity. A bear market, one imagines, would sent his numbers even lower and set off some panic in Republican quarters.

The CNN poll has some additional data of interest to candidates on the ballot in November. Trump’s strong disapproval number is nearly 50 percent (48 percent, to be exact), while his strongly approve is below 30 percent (27 percent). He is just below 50 percent approval for his handling of the economy, but his other policy numbers are atrocious. On trade (53 percent disapproval to 35 percent approval), immigration (59 percent to 35 percent), and foreign policy (56 percent to 36 percent), voters’ disapproval far outstrips their approval. Republicans in deep-red regions might want to rethink running on “Helping Trump’s agenda.” It’s the last thing majorities of Americans in many areas want to succeed.

Trump’s personal qualities rate poorly as well — be it on “cares about people like you” (36 percent say yes, while 62 percent say no); can bring the kind of change we need (40 percent to 57 percent); is honest and trustworthy (32 percent to 65 percent); effectively manages government (41 percent to 56 percent); is uniting the country (30 percent to 67 percent); and is someone respondents are proud to have as president (32 percent to 64 percent).

Compared to other politicians in Washington, voters overwhelmingly find him less honest, more corrupt, less intelligent and less in touch. The guy who was supposed to change D.C. turned out to be a change for the worse — a lot worse.

As other polls have shown, Trump polls terribly among women voters (29 percent approval, 65 percent disapproval), college graduates (31 percent, 65 percent), white college graduates (34 percent, 63 percent) and independents (31 percent, 59 percent). It is only because of his strong support among Republicans (82 percent), and a small margin of support among white, non-college-educated voters (50 percent approval to 45 percent disapproval) that the bottom hasn’t dropped out of his overall approval numbers.

Unless you are a Republican running for a seat in a deep-red area (and, therefore, shouldn’t theoretically need presidential support), you’d have to be foolish to either identify with Trump or, worse, be seen with him. Even in places, such as Texas or Missouri, that traditionally vote Republican for president and went for Trump in 2016, the president’s appearance is going to light a fire under the people who strongly disapprove of him (48 percent nationally). Trying to pump up his narrowing base is counterproductive if Trump is going to inflame multiple groups that Republicans do not want showing up at the polls.

Republicans who appear on the stump with Trump risk being associated not only with his hateful rhetoric and negative personal qualities, but with his unpopular policies. Indeed, if they cannot talk about immigration, trade or foreign policy without inciting the voters who dislike those Trump efforts — and cannot convince voters in most areas (unless they’re talking to members of the super-rich donor class) that the tax plan is the greatest thing to happen to them — what are they going to talk about? Republicans are doing miserably on health care, so they dare not raise that as a topic.

Increasingly, Republicans are down to ludicrous negative barbs (an attack ad from Sen. Ted Cruz makes his opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, out to be pro-flag burning!), conspiracy-mongering and/or whipping up fear of an impeachment battle. Listen, if Trump keeps going downhill, impeachment is going to sound more like a feature, not a bug that comes with electing Democrats.


Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion from a center-right perspective for The Washington Post.

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Opinions

Trump’s decline creates a quandary for Republicans on the ballot

By Jennifer Rubin

September 12, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Watch more!
As Congress abdicates its role, columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. says voters must take up the role of checking President Trump. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

CNN (36 percent), Quinnipiac (38 percent), and Gallup (40 percent) all recently reported lousy approval ratings for President Trump. We don’t yet know if this is statistical “noise,” or whether the combination of Bob Woodward’s book, the anonymous New York Times op-ed, the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea have cumulatively taken a toll on Trump’s support.

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