To hear Brad Parscale — President Trump’s website designer turned campaign manager — tell it, the government shutdown over which Trump so eagerly proclaimed ownership has been an unalloyed success for the president.
“Just received my newest voter score tracking from my team,” Parscale wrote in a tweet last week. Trump, he said, “has reached his highest national approval rating since I started tracking.”
It’s not clear what “voter score tracking” refers to, exactly, but it clearly doesn’t overlap significantly with presidential job approval from independent pollsters. On that metric, Trump’s ratings have been dismal.
In poll after poll, the message on the shutdown is the same. Most Americans, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday shows, blame Trump and his party for the shutdown. If Parscale’s numbers were focused, like Trump himself, on the president’s base, a CNN poll released over the weekend showed bad news: a drop in support from white working-class voters since the shutdown began.
Perhaps more important, Trump’s rhetoric on the issue doesn’t appear to have changed many minds, if any.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday makes that point clear. Trump’s most significant effort to convince America that it was more important to build a wall on the border with Mexico than fund the government without wall funding was his speech from the Oval Office last week — his first time leveraging that traditional style of speech since being elected.
It did not work. Only 2 percent of Americans said Trump changed their minds.
That held across political groups. Trump reportedly complained to journalists with whom he had lunch on the day of his speech that he didn’t expect it to have an effect. On that, he was correct.
But the news is worse than that. Quinnipiac has also been tracking support for the wall in general over the course of Trump’s presidency. Support for it had been slowly increasing — but that growth stalled over the past month, even as Republicans made a full-court press on the subject.
Note that over the past year, there was still an increase in support for the wall. In the Post-ABC poll, that includes a big swing from Republicans since January 2018. A year ago, 71 percent of Republicans supported building the wall in our polling; 87 percent do now. What’s more, the percentage of Republicans supporting it strongly jumped from 58 to 70 percent.
Trump’s party, though, is much softer on its support for how Trump is engaging in this attempt to get the wall built.
Most Americans — including 4 in 10 Republicans — support the Democrats' proposal to reopen parts of the government unrelated to border security. Fifty-two percent of Republicans agree that Trump and their party should hold a harder line.
Most Americans, including 14 percent of Republicans, believed that the shutdown was a function of Trump’s and Republican intransigence, not the Democrats'. This mirrored The Post’s findings. CNN’s poll, though, had a majority of Americans blaming Trump personally, setting aside Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Again: The rhetoric on the wall isn’t working. A majority of Americans also told Quinnipiac that they didn’t think the wall was necessary to protect the border, that it would not make the country safer and that it would not be effective at keeping the border secure. Nearly all Republicans believed all of those things were the case; majorities of independents and nearly all Democrats disagreed.
The rhetoric on the border is doing a bit better. Most Americans told Quinnipiac that they did believe there was a security crisis on the border (54 percent) and a humanitarian crisis (68 percent). In the Post-ABC polling, 24 percent of respondents called the situation with illegal immigration at the border a crisis — a lower percentage than the 38 percent who said a months-long shutdown would be a crisis.
Even with majorities seeing the situation as a security or humanitarian crisis, most Americans still oppose the wall, according to Quinnipiac. What’s more, two-thirds oppose Trump leveraging the idea that there’s a crisis to make an emergency declaration that would allow him to fund wall construction despite Congress.
How all of this ends isn’t yet clear. About a quarter of Americans support the construction of the wall and think Trump should extend the shutdown to try to get the wall built, according to the Post-ABC results. That group includes more than half of the Republicans who support the wall. Interestingly, whites without college degrees are about as likely to hold this position as whites with a degree.
That quarter, it’s safe to assume, is mostly Trump’s base. And if they’re happy, it seems, Parscale is happy and Trump’s happy — even if there’s a lot of writing on the wall that’s being ignored.