Trump’s polling numbers are down in virtually every public poll taken since the shutdown. The NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll has even worse news:
57 percent of registered voters said they would definitely vote against President Donald Trump, according to the latest poll from the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist.Another 30 percent of voters said they would cast their ballot to support Trump, and an additional 13 percent said they had no idea who would get their vote.Although the election is still nearly two years away, the large number of voters who oppose Trump as well as his low approval ratings suggest the president faces a “steep, steep incline” in winning re-election, said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Looking deeper into the numbers, we can see signs of an impending horror show in 2020 for Trump and the GOP. Among independents, 57 percent disapprove of his performance; 43 percent of Republicans want a primary challenger to Trump, while only 46 percent do not (among Republican-leaning independents, that split is 47-44).
It’s not hard to figure out why Trump is tanking. The shutdown, of course, is a loser for Trump. “When it comes to the shutdown specifically, 54 percent of respondents said they blame Trump, and another 31 percent blamed congressional Democrats,” the NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll states. In addition, with daily revelations from the special counsel’s probe and from Trump’s own TV attorney Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s ability to deflect and deny allegations of “collusion” and/or obstruction of justice declines with each filing memo and plea deal. (Having Trump’s attorney general nominee, William P. Barr, gush about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III doesn’t help Trump, either.) And that’s even before his former personal attorney Michael Cohen testifies in public in February.
Pelosi got one very big thing very right in the midterms: Talk about what voters care most about, in this case health care. Trump and his xenophobic minions are obsessed with the wall, to the detriment of everything else, including 800,000 federal workers. Trump appears to care less about the country than his vanity project and TV talk-show cheerleaders — and that’s precisely how he has governed.
With Trump so intent on reinforcing his own ego and bolstering the narrow group of dead-enders, his behavior alienates more and more voters who aren’t in his core group of supporters. Pelosi, meanwhile, voices sympathy for those Trump is hurting and concern for the country’s safety. “We’re not paying people that keep us safe: the [Transportation Security Administration] agents who stop bombs from coming on to planes; the FBI agents who track down terrorists in our country; the [Drug Enforcement Administration] agents who stop the flow of drugs into our country; and the immigration officials who patrol the border,” she said at a news conference. “This senseless shutdown is inflicting great pain on every part of our country. Every day the impact spreads, reaching the lives of hardworking Americans in every corner of the country.”
No wonder Democrats have never been so united — in opposition to Trump. “Serving as a check on the president is the glue that keeps the Democratic caucus together,” writes the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter. “The battle over the wall and the ensuing government shutdown has put that ‘unifying’ factor into stark relief. First, all the polling released in the last week shows that Trump, not Democrats are taking the blame for the shutdown. Moreover, Democratic voters are more united in the sentiment that it’s [Trump’s] fault than Republicans are united that the blame should fall on Democrats.”
Meanwhile, it is hard to see how Trump climbs out of the hole he is in. Perhaps the Senate Republicans finally revolt and vote on House bills to open the government. Maybe Ann Coulter signs a permission slip to let Trump open the government. It’s always possible that federal workers (e.g., TSA screeners) take matters into their own hands and walk off the job. Whatever the resolution, none of these are likely to make Trump look any stronger. That’s good news for the Democrats, for Pelosi and maybe even for Republicans contemplating a primary challenge.