Sunday, February 12, 2017

A thought for Sunday: No, Trump isn't imploding -- but the opposition is broad and intense

 - by New Deal democrat

[You know the drill: it's Sunday, so I can eschew wonky economics and speak my mind freely.]

My post from two weeks ago, "No, Trump isn't Imploding" got picked up by a few other sites within the past few days, and I wanted to follow up because we have a fuller picture of public opinion now.

Basically, Trump still isn't imploding. He is holding his base. In fact, there is a little economic evidence that they are putting their wallets where their mouths have been. BUT, on the other hand, the opposition to Trump is revealing itself as broad-based and intense, in a way that hasn't been seen in America since at least the 1960s (if not the 1930s or 1860s).

Here's Gallup's Presidential approval polling through yesterday:

Three weeks after the start of his Presidency, Trump's last approval rating was 41%, down from 45% on his Inauguration Day. He has been between 41% and 43% for the last two weeks.

That's simply not an implosion.  And his GOP base stands behind his controversial Executive Decrees.  For example, here's the breakdown on support for his Muslim exclusion decree:

While Democrats are almost universally opposed, the support by GOPers is similarly almost universal.

But while Trump isn't imploding, the opposition to him is broad, as shown in the increase of disapproval ratings shown above from 45% on Inauguration Day to 53% in the past week.

Moreover, the opposition is intense, as shown by the 45% support for Trump being impeached as evidenced by a PPP poll several days ago:

In short, the mushy "bipartisan-y" center so worshiped by the likes of the late David Broder has all but disappeared. Red and blue America are at complete loggerheads.

There is some evidence, by the way, that the optimism of GOPers, as shown in Gallup's economic confidence survey:

is showing up in real consumer spending. January is typically the month in which consumers spend the least.  Two weeks ago I noted that so far spending was lackluster.  Well, that has changed.  In the last 21 days, consumers are spending close to 25% more than they did one year ago:

This spending is at the highest level since before the 2008 recession.  I have no way of knowing whether this spending is motivated in part by Trump's presidency, but the coincidence is there.

In the short term, notice that the Congressional GOP has largely gone silent.  No big statements by Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell, and no big Congressional legislation being shepherded to Trump's desk so far. I think they are in a wait-and-see mode.  There is nothing for them to gain with their base by opposing Trump now.  But if he does implode, they don't want to be associated with that implosion.

In the longer term, for Democrats, Trump and the GOP are going to be judged on whether or not they deliver the goods to a majority of Americans, and do it in a way that does not appear mean-spirited. That means, for example, deporting Illegals who have engaged in violent crimes or theft. It does not mean splitting up families by deporting the working parents of American children who have been here for several decades and whose only wrongdoing was using a false Social Security number.  It also means delivering on jobs and wage growth -- something that I doubt very much Trump of the GOP will be successful in doing.

While a number of statistical analyses of the 2016 election have pointed to the primacy of racial attitudes, as for example, shown in this graph:

there is not a 100% correlation between that and Trump votes.  In other words, while it may not have been the most common motivator, there were a significant percentage of white voters who did not take Trump's remarks about Muslims or Mexicans seriously, or for that matter that he was really going to repeal ObamaCare.  This last group are the swing voters who can be persuaded back into the Democratic camp by candidates who reject Wall Street and embrace economic progressivism.