Just about every public poll taken since the shutdown shows President Trump’s approval rate dropping. These surveys tell us a strong majority primarily blames him. The latest Post-ABC News poll drills down to ask what voters don’t like about him. The answer is: practically everything.
Nearly 6 in 10 say they have an unfavorable view of the president as a person. Similar majorities say they doubt his empathy, honesty and ability to make political deals, although on several of those attitudes, his ratings have not changed significantly during his time in office. ... Almost half of all Americans (48 percent) say they have no confidence in Trump’s future decision-making.
The Post-ABC poll indicates a huge difference between expectations when he first took office for Trump’s performance on the economy, health care and the debt and how voters now evaluate him on these issues.
More interesting perhaps for a president whose party proclaimed itself uninterested in character are the putrid ratings he gets on personal qualities. Sixty percent of registered voters view him negatively as a person, as do 63 percent of independents and 66 percent of women. A bare majority of registered voters (51 percent) think he isn’t a strong leader; again, he does worse with independents (55 percent) and women (59 percent). On honesty and trustworthiness, 60 percent of registered voters think he isn’t, including 73 percent (!) of independents and 71 percent of women. After two years of his presidency, 58 percent of registered voters (including 67 percent of independents and women) don’t think he has the temperament to be president. Sixty-five percent of registered voters don’t think he cares about people like them, including 68 percent of independents and 72 percent of women.
Perhaps it is the shutdown, not the anticipated report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, that will be Trump’s downfall. Trump’s man-made disaster — the culmination of two years of chaos, meanness, bigotry and lies — leaves voters thinking he is incompetent, uncaring and clueless, much like Hurricane Katrina did for President George W. Bush. That view in all likelihood won’t change, because Trump won’t change.
In the 2016 election, Trump wasn’t viewed favorably either. But he had Hillary Clinton as a foil. It’s why he still references her. Voters — in his mind, I suppose — should appreciate him because they could have had her instead. (Hmm ... no!) In any event, that suggests both a primary challenger in the GOP race and a general election candidate who can manage to best Trump in a slew of personal qualifications might have a real shot at winning.
The bad news is that Trump, or his campaign advisers at least, knows that the only way he wins (other than if former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz runs as an independent) is by making his opponent(s) less likable than himself. That’s going to be hard, but make no mistake: If he is around in 2020, he’ll run the nastiest, most dishonest campaign we’ve ever seen. And if he runs and loses, don’t expect that he’d necessarily accept the results.