Jenkins: Trump is not helping Republicans
By Paul Jenkins |
The headline “Poll: Democrats lead on generic ballot in 2018,” got me wondering: Can that be true?
The headlined story in The Hill, written by Julia Manchester, says 44 percent of an Economist-YouGov poll’s respondents indicated they would have voted for Democratic candidates in their own districts — if the election had been held the day they participated in the poll, which was conducted Dec. 24-Dec. 26. Only 36 percent said they would have voted for GOP candidates.
Perhaps more important, the poll also found 52 percent of its respondents saying the country is headed in the wrong direction; 34 percent said it generally is headed in the right direction.
If you are among those who believe polls generally are correct, the evidence they can be laughably wrong is tweeting with verve and reckless abandon every day from the bowels of the White House. Up until swing states abandoned Hillary Clinton on election night last year — and nobody saw that coming — it was a foregone conclusion among many pollsters, pundits and political prognosticators that The Donald was toast.
But not only did Democrats lose the White House, they lost ground in the Senate, legislatures, and state houses across the nation. The party was roundly rejected by voters far and wide. The drubbing left Democrats unnerved, confused and contradicted, wanting us to believe voters loved them, but simply did not understand their message.
Since Trump’s election, the left has mounted an incessant, shrill, rear-guard action to belittle, besmirch and bemoan him at every opportunity. The goal? Win the 2018 mid-terms by destroying his presidency — and he is doing what he can to help.
Face it, last year’s election was all about Hillary Clinton. Next year’s midterm congressional elections are about Trump, a guy who is toxic to Republicans and could cost them moderates, independents, and, because of his piggish behavior, women in marginal voting districts if he does not change his ways. Trump’s base will stick, but will it be enough?
Many voters last year — some who had voted for Barack Obama — were willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. They would have voted for Attila the Hun over Clinton. This time around, though, they know Trump a little better. It is unlikely to happen again.
President Donald Trump displays his signature after signing the $1.5 trillion tax bill along with a short-term government spending bill in the Oval Office of the White House on Dec. 22, 2017.
He has, as Trump-hating New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote recently, “been every bit as horrible as one might have expected; he continues, day after day, to prove himself utterly unfit for office, morally and intellectually. And the Republican Party — including so-called moderates — turns out, if anything, to be even worse than one might have expected.”
The greater Trump’s successes, the more shrill and vitriolic attacks such as Krugman’s become.
[2018 will be all about Trump’s departure]
I’m no fan, but Trump has posted wins: He is chewing through the federal regulatory snarl and appointing conservative, constitutionalist judges to the bench. He managed, for the first time since Ronald Reagan in 1986, to maneuver tax reform through a balky Congress — and he did it with a Republican Party at war with itself.
Since Trump took office in January, gross domestic product growth has climbed above 3 percent. He forged trade deals with China, Vietnam and South Korea. The stock market is skyrocketing to record highs. Jobs are being created. Consumer confidence has rebounded. Obamacare’s onerous — and wrong-headed — individual mandate bit the dust. And school choice actually has a chance.
If the Economist-YouGov poll, and others, are correct, none of that — not one bit — matters to voters, and Republicans will suffer for it in the mid-term elections. I wonder.
Americans had a vague idea of who Donald Trump was in 2016. He had been viciously and vigorously vetted and re-vetted and then re-vetted again. You could not watch the debates or read his tweets and not see him for the ill-equipped, unpredictable, tempestuous loon he is. His every peccadillo, sexual and otherwise, was widely known and dissected. His boorish behavior was cluck-cluckingly critiqued. Commentators with their thumbs on the scale rolled their eyes and pulled out all the stops to undercut him as a candidate for the presidency.
Yet voters backed him as Clinton commandeered the Democratic Party and drove her campaign over a cliff. Trump’s victory was a statement about her, not him.
It is not too hard to believe those same Trump voters — voters who last year were simply sick of Clinton and weary of the left’s broken promises and abject failures on so many fronts — will be angry enough with Trump’s behavior, despite his first-year successes, to lean left in toss-up mid-term districts.
Conventional wisdom has the president’s party losing seats at the midterm, and, yes, Trump is an unlikeable dunce doing his best to ensure that happens.
For Republicans — and the rest of us — that could be a bad moon rising.