Sunday, January 28, 2018

BTRTN SaturData Review: Shutdowns, Showdowns and Flashpoints

Tom with the “SaturData Review” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week.  We apologize for being a day late.

Who lost the shutdown?  Most pundits and politicos agree that Mitch McConnell, with Donald Trump relegated to the sidelines, outmaneuvered Chuck Schumer in the who-blinked-first battle, as a short-term government shutdown ended with yet another can kicked further on down the road (for three weeks this time, not a month). Certainly Schumer appeared to get very little for agreeing to re-open the government, apart from the ire of his own party’s liberal faction, which includes any number of presidential hopefuls looking to make a stand on DACA.

But pundits and politicos are often completely oblivious to actual data, which show no evidence of a Dem debacle.  The generic ballot continues to give the Dems a healthy +6 advantage, and most polls that directly ask who is to blame for the shutdown show the majority choosing Trump and/or the GOP handily over the Democrats (see “Political Stat of the Week,” below).  Trump himself lost another point in his approval rating this week, and has now squandered his post-tax law bump, and is back at 40%, the mode number of his presidency.

But it certainly could have been worse for the GOP; the reality is that the three-day shutdown was so short (and mostly over a weekend) that no real damage was caused to anyone, and the blame lines drawn reflected standard partisan fare.

There is a growing sense, however, that something is going to come to a head, some catalyst that could jolt the political dynamic.  The obvious candidate is the next legislative showdown over the spending bill and immigration on February 8, when the stakes are even higher.  The first positions staked out in this next round of battle are hardly encouraging for a swift resolution – the Trump Administration tossed the sprig of “a path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants on top of a full plate of hard-line immigration policies that one Democratic consultant labeled “a white supremacist wish list.”  And Schumer pulled back on Wall funding as a negotiating chip, and thus, with both actions, we are back to the proverbial square one.

But other ominous “somethings” are afoot as well, notably the Mueller investigation, which truly does seem to be heading toward some conclusion with the news that there are negotiations underway to determine the form of testimony from Trump.  But there is no real sense of when this might occur.

Less likely as near-term flashpoints are a North Korea blow-up or an economic correction, but they continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

Finally, there is the unexpected.  Presidents are often judged by history less by their policies and more by how they respond to crises – the ever-deepening commitment to a failing war, the bungled handling of a third-rate burglary or a hostage crisis, the overreaching response to a terrorist attack, the under-response to a devastating hurricane.  Contrast these relatively modern failures of Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Bush 43 with those of their predecessors (FDR, Ike, JFK) in how they dealt with the Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany, the stalemate in Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Trump has not faced one of these, and while he has arguably mishandled any number of dire circumstances – ratcheting up the warmongering rhetoric on North Korea and ignoring the desperation in Puerto Rico, for example – he has not managed his way through a full-blown crisis yet. And that is surely to come.  His performance in the shutdown battle was hardly reassuring – he was scattered in giving guidance on what he would be willing to sign; bombastic and distracting with his “shithole” comments; and ultimately relegated to the sidelines after his vaunted deal-making skills were exposed as hollow.  The clock ticks.

(A note on methodology: BTRTN calculates our weekly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.)

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending   Jan 20
Wk ending   Jan 27
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
41%
40%
-1 pp
-8 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
55%
57%
-2 pp
+13 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-14 pp
-17 pp
-3 pp
-21 pp






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






Trumpometer
0%
+19%
+14%
-5 pp
+14%
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
13%
Consumer Confidence
114
122
122
0%
7%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.67
2.68
0%
-10%
Dow-Jones
19,732
26,071
26,617
2%
35%
Most recent GDP
2.1
3.2
2.6
-19%
24%

While the stock market roared, the new Q4 GDP fell below analyst and Trump expectations, at 2.6%, sending the Trumpometer tumbling from +19 to +14.

(The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017. The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.
The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP.  The Trumpometer score of +14 means that, as of January 27, 2018, these indicators have on average improved by 14%.)

POLITICAL STAT OF THE WEEK
A number of polls all conclude the same thing: the GOP (inclusive of Trump) earned more of the blame for the government shutdown than the Democrats, by roughly a 50%/35% margin.

BLAME FOR GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

NBC
Quinn
MornCon
Trump
38%
31%
34%
GOP
18%
18%
15%
Dems
39%
32%
35%


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