President Trump has sympathized with hurricane victims in Florida and Texas, attacked the NFL, attacked the media (and the “disgusting” First Amendment right to write what they please), attacked Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), saber rattled against North Korea and touted his tax plan. And yet it’s not working. His polls are in the doldrums, Congress is unmoved by his antics and both allies and a large bipartisan contingent of lawmakers have warned against pursuing his head-fake (decertification) strategy on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Rumors abound that his secretary of state and/or chief of staff may not be long for their jobs. His mental stability is an appropriate topic of discussion.
Perhaps someone should point out to Trump that repeating with greater frequency and higher volume the same unhinged rhetoric does not seem to be working. Two polls this week bear this out.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing, only 36 percent approve. With the exception of employment/jobs, voters disapprove of his handling of a range of issues (health care, foreign policy, etc.), in some cases by more than 20 points.
Likewise, the Quinnipiac poll reported:
American voters feel better about the economy and good about their own pocketbooks, but still disapprove 56 – 38 percent of the job President Donald Trump is doing. . . . Voters today say 55 – 43 percent that Trump is not fit to serve as president, compared to 56 – 42 percent [statistically unchanged] not fit two weeks ago. . . . Anti-Twitter sentiment hits a new high as 70 percent of voters say the president should stop tweeting from his personal account.
His polls are in negative territory on honesty (56 percent say he’s not, 40 percent say he is), leadership (59 to 38), level-headedness (61 percent say he’s not, only 35 percent say he is) and sharing their values (6o percent say no, 37 percent say he does). Even on the NFL, by a margin of 58 to 34 percent, Americans say Trump’s comments were inappropriate.
His standing with women, minorities, the college educated, every age group, Democrats and independent is horrendous. He does better with white men and non-college educated Americans, but even among those core groups his approval overall or by issue don’t rise above the mid-50s. In some cases (e.g., honesty) even those groups don’t stick with him. His lock on self-identified Republicans remains strong.
Several aspects of Trump’s support stand out.
First, all this comes at a time Americans are giddy about the economy, reporting their own finances are in great shape. “A total of 61 percent of voters – close to an all-time high – say the nation’s economy is ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ while 37 percent say it is ‘not so good’ or ‘poor,’” said Quinnipiac. “Their personal financial situation is ‘excellent’ or ‘good,’ 73 percent of voters say, while 26 percent say it is ‘not so good’ or ‘poor.’” Should the economy dip it’s not clear even his shrinking base will stick with him.
Second, Trump is not converting or recapturing voters to his cause. Opposition has hardened and intensified to match and exceed the intensity of supporters. (50 percent strongly disapprove of his performance, 27 strongly approve.) It’s fair to say that voters are turning off the constant drum beat of hysteria and conflict, having made up their mind about him. In a sense they are right — Trump has not improved since taking office. He has arguably become a worse president with time — both in terms of racking up defeats and in terms of his ability to maintain a sober, even demeanor. The percentage of Americans who think he is dishonest, unfit and/or not level-headed should concern his team. He’s just not holding it together well enough to keep voters on his side.
Third, he sure has succeeded in turning Americans off from the GOP. Seventy-seven percent, including 55 percent of Republicans, disapprove of the GOP’s job in Congress. By a margin of 49 to 41 percent, they want a Democratic House; by a 49 to 43 percent margin they want a Democratic Senate.
If Trump wants to change public attitudes toward him, then he’ll need to do something different, not double down on what he has been doing. For Trump, however, that seems to be impossible.