Swing State Pres

Saturday, December 9, 2017

BTRTN SaturData Review: Trump Approval Immutable Despite Wild Week

Tom with the “SaturData Review,” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week.

Even Donald Trump’s strongest supporters would agree that the Trump presidency is a roller coaster, the temperamental counterpoint to the “No Drama” Obama administration.  There are the record number of “breaking news” alerts, the cacophony of tweets, the unceasing efforts to discredit Hillary Clinton, overturn the Obama legacy, declare war on countless enemies and discredit the media.  There are major stories every day competing for attention, many manufactured by Trump, to be sure, to deflect attention from difficult story lines. 

And yet through it all, there is one constant, one apparently unshakable pillar, one immutable truth, and that is that week in, week out, 40% of the country approves of Donald Trump’s job performance.  Trump started off with a 48% approval rating, roughly mirroring his 46% voting percentage in the general election, and it dropped down steadily until it hit 40% in June.  And since then it has been like a dirge – 40, 40, 40, occasionally dropping in a series of minor chords at 39, 39, 39.  It is a terrible approval rating, yet it occupies a kind of middle zone – 40% is not (nearly) good enough for reelection, but not (nearly) bad enough for the GOP to jump ship, since that overall 40% means that roughly 75% - 80% of Republicans – that is, the overwhelming majority of them – remain with Trump.

This week alone, the airwaves were rocked by the aftermath of Michael Flynn’s guilty plea, the resignations of Al Franken, John Conyers and Trent Franks, and Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would now recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move our embassy there (eventually) from Tel Aviv.  Each was a stunning development in and of itself, and each is also a portent of major storms to come as the Russia investigation, the sexual impropriety/harassment/assault scandals and Middle East peace prospects all escalated into new phases, with more guilty pleas, resignations and perhaps violence to come. 

One struggles to think of a moment when a standing Administration, the U.S. Congress and peace prospects around the globe were simultaneously more fraught with peril.  Think of Watergate, Vietnam (the analogy here being North Korea) and, say, the Profumo affair all occurring simultaneously – is it too much to imagine that we are on the precipice of such a scenario?

And yet, the numbers are what they are, with Trump supporters and detractors dug in, staring across a Grand Canyon-esque divide, incapable of defection, immune to new information.  We had yet another week where an incredible amount happened and nothing changed at all.

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending   Dec 2
Wk ending   Dec 9
Chng vs. Prior Week
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
40%
40%
0 pp
-8 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
56%
56%
0 pp
+12 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-16 pp
-16 pp
0 pp
-20 pp






Generic Ballot Dem - Rep
D + 6
D + 6
D + 6
0 pp
0 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+20%
+20%
0%
20%
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
13%
Consumer Confidence
114
130
130
0%
14%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.65
2.62
1%
-7%
Dow-Jones
19,732
24,272
24,329
0%
23%
Most recent GDP
2.1
3.3
3.3
0%
57%

The economic news continued to be solid, with little change in the key indicators, and the Trumpometer still at +20% versus Trump’s Inauguration Day (meaning, on average, five key economic indicators are up 20% versus their level back then, as detailed in the chart).  Yesterday’s new jobs report showed continued strong hiring (+228,000 jobs) and no change in the 4.1% unemployment rate.

Next week comes the verdict (if you will) on Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama.  A Moore win is a strong possibility, at this juncture, but this race is still very close and by no means decided.  The keys will be if Democratic candidate Doug Jones manages to fire up the African-American vote, and enough disenchanted Republicans sit it out. 

The polls do show a modest shift from Jones +2 (on average) in the period immediately following the sexual assault accusations to Moore +3 in the last two weeks.  But the polls have bounced around quite a bit; not every pollsters is reputable; and the margins either way are razor thin.  This is anyone’s election right now.

Alabama Senate
Pre-Accusations
Post-Accusations
Nov 9 - 20
Nov 24 - Dec 4
Moore
49
45
49
Jones
40
47
46
Margin
9
-2
3

This week Moore received a full-throated endorsement from Trump in the form of a supportive phone call, and Trump made a major speech across the border in Florida that urged Alabama voters to go to the polls on Moore’s behalf.  Al Franken appears to have been the only public figure to note that of the three accused men, only he, Franken, has been forced to leave his post.  There has not been a single public voice demanding that Trump step down, and there are indications that the GOP establishment, bowing meekly to Trump, will not attempt to expel Moore from the Senate if he wins.  One can only hope that the Democrats will speak up as loudly to demand Moore’s ouster – as they did for Franken, and as they have, thus far, failed to do for Trump.


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