OPINION: When the base drifts

Polls released over the past week or so show President Donald Trump’s overall approval rating sinking and, more ominous for the president’s psyche, an erosion among his most devoted followers.

Politico reports: “Only 40 percent of registered voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, the new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows, down from a high-water mark of 52 percent in March. And the percentage who approve strongly–one way to measure the size of Trump’s most fervent supporters–is also at a new low: just 18 percent.”

Likewise, Quinnipiac reports, his “strongly approve” number is at 23 percent, down 10 points from early February. In addition, “Republican firms Firehouse Strategies and Optimus surveyed likely midterm voters in Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida on Trump’s favorability once in April and again in August. In those four months, the share of voters with a ‘strongly favorable’ opinion of the president shrunk from 35.3 percent to 28.6 percent.” The story is the same in the CNN poll.

While the president waves any bad polling off as “fake,” the numbers are alarming in a number of respects.

First, the GOP numbers may be even worse than they appear as fewer people self-identify as Republicans. Gallup reported, “The current seven-point Democratic edge in party affiliation is similar to what it was in 1998 and 2006, the two strongest Democratic years among the most recent midterm elections. If Democrats can maintain a significant advantage in Americans’ party preference over the next 17 months, it would serve them well in the 2018 midterm elections.” There’s a smaller pool of his party’s voters, in which fewer people are strong supporters.

Second, Trump has suffered the polling slump when the economy is strong and perceptions of the economy are very positive. Trump hasn’t benefited as most presidents do when the economy does well. If the economy slumps, however, it’s quite possible that his…

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