From Putin to the Playboy Bunny payoff tapes, last week was widely viewed as one of the worst of the Trump presidency. According to Donald Trump superfan Newt Gingrich, Trump committed the “most serious mistake of his presidency” in his Helsinki presser performance. At the Trump-friendly Washington Examiner, their weekly report card gave him an “F.”
Mr. Trump’s job approval rating rose to 45% in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the highest mark of his presidency and up 1 percentage point from June. The survey was taken over a four-day period that started July 15, a day before Mr. Trump’s news conference with Mr. Putin in which he questioned the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
Underpinning Mr. Trump’s job approval was support from 88% of Republican voters. Of the four previous White House occupants, only George W. Bush, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, had a higher approval rating within his own party at the same point in his presidency.
In fact, Trump’s numbers have generally trended higher over the past six months in the Real Clear Politics average of polls–though he remains one of the most unpopular presidents at this point in a presidency in the modern era. So while a president in the low 40’s is not good news for Republicans this November, it could be far worse.
The same with the generic-ballot question. In the new WSJ/NBC News poll, the Democrats’ advantage is down to 6 points– 43-49 percent. Not great for the GOP, but close enough to keep their “hold the House” hopes alive.
The question for Republican congressional candidates is how to handle the Trump question. Some hope to run past Trump this November, play the “all politics is local” card, keep their heads down and pretend he doesn’t exist. Another new poll says “Good luck with that.”
According to the new Morning Consult poll, the number one issue on the minds of voters is Trump. Period.
President Donald Trump is revered by Republicans and detested by Democrats — and what congressional candidates think of the president is more important than nearly every policy issue polled, including security and health care, for both Republicans and Democrats in the third edition of Morning Consult’s State of the Parties survey.
Twenty-two percent of Republican voters said a candidate’s support for the president was the top issue on their minds when casting ballots for House and Senate candidates, while 21 percent of Democrats said opposing Trump was most important.
More important than the economy, more important than national security–The Donald “Trumps” all.
Which presents a significant challenge for candidates in New Hampshire. While Trump isn’t popular in the Granite State (he’s underwater -11), this isn’t New York (-21) or Massachusetts (- 25). Trump narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and there will be a popular governor at the top of the ticket in November. The electorate who shows up to vote in November may look more like the one that turned out in 2016 than the crowds who show up for anti-Trump rallies.
Do Republican congressional candidates embrace a President who’s unpopular with general-election voters? Given his popularity among GOP primary voters, how do they avoid it? He’s the top topic on the minds of the voters they need to become the party’s nominee.
Do Democrats run cleats-high against Trump, promising to impeach him on Day One? Given that Trump hate is their voters’ highest priority, how can they resist? But then they have to defend that aggressive stance in a general election. They can’t afford to go too far Left, and they seem to know it.
Trump is a political Rubik’s Cube that every winning candidate will have to solve.