President Trump is getting slammed by Democrats and some Republicans for foreign policy blunders, a needless government shutdown and removing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis two months before his resignation was to take effect. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) already mastered the art of needling him. (“First of all, the fact . . . that he says, ‘We’re going to build a wall with cement, and Mexico’s going to pay for it’ while he’s already backed off of the cement — now he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something.”) The markets are on a roller coaster. That Trump is bleeding support should therefore come as no shock.
The Morning Consult poll found at the onset of the shutdown that “39 percent of registered voters — including 80 percent of Republicans — approved of the president’s job performance, while 56 percent — including 90 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents — did not.” His numbers in this poll haven’t been this bad since Charlottesville.
Voters not only blame Trump for the shutdown; they also think he’ll never get his wall:
Forty-three percent of registered voters said Trump was mostly to blame for the shutdown, compared with roughly one-third who blamed Democrats and 7 percent who chose Republicans in Congress. Seventy-three percent of Democrats and a 41 percent plurality of independents blamed Trump for the shutdown, while about two-thirds of Republican voters said Democrats were mostly to blame.
Sixty-four percent — including 54 percent of Republicans! — think he’s unlikely to get the wall.
Gallup’s poll also shows his approval at 39 percent.
Likewise, the Suffolk University-USA Today poll shows his approval at 42 percent, his disapproval at roughly 54 percent — with 41 percent who strongly disapprove of his performance (compared with 24 percent who strongly approve). This poll also shows 77 percent think the country is more divided, and a majority (56 percent) think he likely or definitely won’t be reelected. Less than 30 percent approve the shutdown, while 54 percent oppose it. A plurality (43 percent) blame Trump and the Republicans, while only 23 percent blame Democrats, and 30 percent say they are equally to blame. And if we fall into a recession, 42 percent are ready to blame Trump, compared with only 14 percent who would blame congressional Democrats. On the Russia investigation, 35 percent have some or a lot of trust in Trump, while 53 percent say the same of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Forty-six percent think there definitely was collusion; only 29 percent think there definitely was not.
The polling suggests that Trump’s opposition has hardened. The question for 2019 that fellow Republicans will focus intently on is whether his polling stabilizes in the high 30s/low 40s, where it has been for his entire presidency, or whether the accumulation of scandals, flubs, personnel debacles and economic turbulence pull him significantly lower. If it’s the former, and the economy remains robust, Trump will likely maintain his grip on the party and stand a good chance of renomination. That outcome is hardly a given now, however.
It’s quite possible (likely, even?) that the Mueller report will paint a devastating portrait of presidential wrongdoing (and bring indictments of members of his innermost circle), that Democratic investigations turn up ample evidence of incompetence and corruption, that the economic recovery peters out (if not falling into recession), that Trump’s personnel picks continue the pattern of low-quality people replaced by even lower-quality people and that an international incident (which we’ve avoided to date) proves Trump’s total incompetence. At that point, Republican lawmakers' loyalty to (or fear of) Trump will come up against their panic over their own political fates. Equally important will be the reaction of the donor class if the stock market continues to tank, siphoning off any gains they’ve enjoyed from the tax cuts.
In short, Trump in 2019 will either muddle through another year of his chaotic presidency or finally wear out his welcome among Republicans who finally recognize they can save him or themselves, but not both.
UPDATE: Yet another bad poll for Trump: This one for the Associated Press conducted by NORC shows that “16% of those who ‘somewhat’ supported Trump’s job performance decided to vote for Democratic House candidates in the November midterms. That’s compared with 6% of those who self-identified as Trump’s ‘strong” supporters.” The challenge for Democrats will be to convert these into Democratic voters in the presidential 2020 race.