Trump’s popularity matters a lot—and I think he’s wearing out his welcome
Trump’s shtick doesn’t wear well, as I’m sure his wives could testify. (There’s a reason Melania is seizing the opportunity to live separately.)
Jennifer Rubin makes some interesting points in a column that begins:
President-elect Donald Trump’s periodic “thank you” tour rallies strike me as a “fix,” a way to recapture the high he got from the campaign, reassurance that “they love me, they really love me!” And who can blame him, cooped up in his office most days listening to apple-polishing job seekers and Republicans — eye roll — who want to talk about this or that policy? Each new nomination brings critics out of the woodwork, and with the exception of Jim Mattis, no one has received bipartisan acclaim. Moreover, without Hillary Clinton as his punching bag, expectations all center on him. “But Hillary. . .” no longer matters.
Trump likes to recount the campaign and double down on his favorite gripes (e.g., the media) when he’s out with his fans. Oh, and he still loves to talk about campaign polls. It beats looking at current approval ratings and the raging controversies over Russia and his conflicts of interest. Gallup reports:
Americans are evenly divided in their assessment of the way Donald Trump is handling his presidential transition, with 48% approving and 48% disapproving. By contrast, 65% or more approved of the way the past three presidents-elect were handling their transitions at similar points in time, including 75% for Barack Obama in December 2008. . . .
One major reason Trump’s transition approval lags well behind his predecessors’ is that members of the opposition party are far more critical of Trump than they were of prior presidents-elect. Whereas 17% of Democrats approve of Trump’s presidential transition, the ratings for Obama and Bill Clinton among Republicans and for George W. Bush among Democrats were near 50%.
Moreover, Trump’s approval is likely to get worse. (“On average, recent presidents’ transition approval ratings have been about eight points higher than their first presidential job approval ratings.”) He’d be back in the territory of George W. Bush — after Hurricane Katrina hit.
During the campaign, Trump gave lip service to bringing Americans together, but in fact he is more polarizing than President Obama, who was more polarizing than George W. Bush. (“Democrats’ low level of approval of Trump may foreshadow a high degree of political polarization in his forthcoming job approval ratings as president, which has been the case for Obama during his time in office.”) That will get worse as he starts to lose support from voters who really thought he was going to drain the swamp or bring back jobs from Mexico.
Trump may be an unconventional president, but we suspect some political phenomenon will not change. Members of Congress who have to run in two years, even in gerrymandered districts (where primary challenges are very possible), watch the president’s approval as much as their own. . .