(Rich Galen, Mullings) – This Tweet from Matthew Dowd got my attention over the weekend.
Update after 3 weeks of Presidency (net job approval):
Bush W +32
Dowd, under close questioning, said the data came from Gallup, so I went to the Gallup.com page. Gallup runs what is known (and we have discussed many times) a three-day-rolling average.
If you are looking at Wednesday’s numbers, that includes polling done on Monday and Tuesday as well as Wednesday. If you look again at the Thursday results, the rolling average is based upon polling done on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
The oldest data roll off every day.
According to the current data which runs through February 11, President Trump’s approve/disapprove stands at 40/55 or -15.
Why do we care about this?
We might not care that much but there are 535 voting members of the U.S. House and Senate who are looking at data like these each and every day.
Among those who are most interested are the 34 Senators who are up for reelection in 2018 especially, according to the Washington Posts, the “10 Democratic senators are running for reelection in states Trump carried last November.”
Here they are:
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Joe Donnelly (Indiana)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Dean Heller (Nevada)
Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota)
Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Bob Casey (Pennsylvania)
Joe Manchin (West Virginia)
Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
In all, Democrats are defending 25 seats; Republicans are defending nine (including a special election in Alabama where Luther Strange was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General of the United States).
Over on the other side of the Capitol, all 435 seats are up for grabs although, because there will be no wholesale redrawing of Congressional Districts until after 2020, it is highly unlikely Democrats can win enough seats held by Republicans in GOP Districts to take back control.
Why does this matter?
Because for Republicans in the House, the political danger will not come on November 6, 2018, but will come on the date the primary election is held in their state.
The question many – although not most, yet – are asking when they look at those Gallup numbers is: “How much political danger will I be in if I criticize Trump?”
With about 20,000 email readers, MULLINGS is a pretty good cross section of Republican thinking. Based upon your emails the vast majority of you believe President Trump is paying off on his campaign promises and, thus, you are applauding him.
Returning to Gallup (again h/t to Matthew Dowd) we can see that while it is far from unanimous, 55% of Republicans are “satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. Gallup reports this is, “up sharply from 22% last month before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.”
Democrats, conversely, are not as bullish. Gallup reports that only 13% of Ds are satisfied, down from “62% of Democrats were satisfied with the way things were going in the U.S. in early November just before the election.”
On a national basis, there is zero incentive for Republicans and Democrats in Washington to agree on anything. Worse (or better) yet, there is palpable danger in being perceived as going along with anything the party across the aisle is pushing.
So, while those of us living on the coasts continue to sell the fiction that voters want more cooperation in Congress between Rs and Ds, the data (at least these data) tell a completely different story.
So why the difference between President Trump’s job approval and the satisfaction with the way things are going? I think it is not the policies the Trump White House is pursuing, but the My-Way-or-the-Crumbling-Interstate-Highway style of the President and his aides.
The roundup of illegal immigrants is a good example. There appears to be little difference in the program as designed and first implemented by Barack Obama, but Obama didn’t look like he was running alongside the bus, taunting each and every person being deported.
I know President Trump isn’t doing that, either, but the Administration didn’t seem to be interested in sending DHS Secretary, John Kelly, onto the Sunday shows to point out this was an Obama-era program and, thus, soften some of the hard edges of the reporting.
We’re still a long way from the mid-terms, but for those involved in running for reelection the gravitational pull of the competing poll numbers will grow stronger by the day.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.