There is only abysmal news for President Trump and Republicans in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Voters say Trump is not “fit to serve as president,” by a 56 to 42 percent margin. Voters disapprove (57 to 36 percent) of his performance (so 6 percent think he is fit, just not doing a good job). It gets worse:
Voters disapprove 57 – 36 percent of the job he is doing as president. . . . American voters disapprove 62 – 32 percent of the way President Trump is handling race relations. Disapproval is 55 – 39 percent among white voters, 95 – 3 percent among black voters and 66 – 28 percent among Hispanic voters. President Trump is doing more to divide the country than to unite the country, American voters say 60 – 35 percent.
The anti-Twitter sentiment remains high as voters say 69 – 26 percent that Trump should stop tweeting. No party, gender, education, age or racial group wants to follow the Tweeter-in- Chief. Voters say 51 – 27 percent they are embarrassed to have Trump as president.
More than 55 percent of voters say he is not honest and lacks leadership skills. Some 61 percent say they do not share his values, and 67 percent say he is not level-headed. Less than 40 percent think he is doing a good job on foreign policy, immigration, the environment or health care. A plurality narrowly approves of this handling of the economy and of terrorism.
There is no good news here for Republicans in Congress either. “American voters disapprove 78 – 15 percent of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, worse than their 70 – 25 percent disapproval in a June 29 Quinnipiac University poll. . . . Voters say 47 – 38 percent, including 44 – 32 percent among independent voters, that they would like to see Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 Congressional elections.”
Americans it turns out:
- Are not bamboozled by his NFL and flag histrionics;
- Do not think it’s all the media’s fault;
- Know he is not making America great (stressed and anxious maybe, but not great);
- Have figured out he’s botching most policy matters — and is a bad person to boot; and
- Don’t buy into his race-baiting act.
Americans are neither brain-dead nor moral vagrants. In voting for him many probably hated Hillary Clinton more, engaged in wishful thinking about Trump and/or figured incorrectly a rich guy and his friends must know how to do things. But they do not like him now, and that speaks very well of the American people.
The bad news is Republicans overwhelmingly like him, his policies, his distractions, his character, his racial appeals, etc. Among Republicans 79 percent approve of his performance, 79 percent think he is honest (!), 85 percent think he cares about ordinary Americans, 62 percent think he is level-headed (!!) and perhaps worst of all, 78 percent think he shares their values.
Now, it’s possible that having voted for him these Republicans don’t want to admit he is, as LeBron James eloquently put it, a bum. But it’s also possible that a declining share of voters identify as Republicans but that those who do, by and large, live in a Fox News-created political universe in which Trump is just the best. They refuse to see Trump as a bigot or an incompetent narcissist. They believe what he tells them about immigrants, the world and the “liberal elites.”
The question that many #NeverTrump Republicans or now former Republicans face is whether that GOP base has become so divorced from their own world view that they cannot consider themselves Republicans any longer. To be a Republican these days is to be at the very least an apologist for Trump and at the worst a cultist. Maybe these Trump fans were always there in the party, but now they are the dominant voice. That leaves a two-way struggle between stringent conservatives (e.g., Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) and Trump/Bannonites. Many disaffected Republicans have no Republicans to root for anymore other than a handful of members of Congress and a small batch of governors. They may like the idea of the GOP, but they cannot abide by the actual GOP of 2017.
It doesn’t seem possible that logic or experience will change the minds of the 75 percent to 80 percent of the GOP who remain in Trump’s quarter. (Some hope that Trump is like a high fever that will pass, leaving the patient back to being his old self; I think that’s unlikely, but it’d be nice if the fever theory turns out to be correct.) You can change a president or a presidential candidate but can you change a party’s composition? I find that hard to believe. Trump’s beliefs and views are their beliefs and views.
That leaves distressed Republicans and ex-Republicans with three options — recruit new non-Trumpkins to the GOP (but which Americans would want to join?!) to out-vote Trump’s base; start a new center-right party (with an invitation out to moderate Democrats); or set up shop across the aisle as the new Blue Dog Democrats. Much depends on the direction the Democrats take (will it be the party of Sen. Bernie Sanders or the party of Truman/JFK/Bill Clinton — policy-wise, that is).
In short, the GOP that was, is no longer, and we really have no idea what if anything will take its place.