America’s got a fee-vah and the only prescription is … continued Republican control of government? Maybe?
Lately when there’s news about improving GOP fortunes in the RCP “poll of polls” the reference point has been to the first few months of Trump’s term. Through about May of 2017 (not coincidentally, the month he fired Comey), POTUS’s job approval was hovering at around 43-44 percent and the Democratic lead on the generic ballot was in the six-point range. Then began a long decline on both fronts followed by a recovery this spring.
But today’s news is different. At 5.2 points, this is the smallest generic-ballot lead the Dems have had since Inauguration Day. At no point in Trump’s presidency, even over the first hundred days when the jury of public opinion was still out on him, was the GOP as close as it is now.
Don't look now, but Democrats only lead the GOP by 5.2 on the generic ballot RCP polling average.
That is down from a 13 point lead at the end of 2017, and is the smallest margin in the polling cycle for Democrats. pic.twitter.com/QpZHyrvIHx
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) May 15, 2018
I know someone who’s going to be having two scoops of ice cream for dessert tonight instead of one:
That’s *technically* not true — his best polling of the year came nine days ago — but it’s close enough, especially given the rising Republican tide in the generic ballot.
We have a new ballgame in the midterms if these numbers hold, says RCP elections guru Sean Trende:
If the election were held today, I'm not sure who would win the House. First time I've been able to say that since summer of last year.
— Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) May 14, 2018
Especially when you narrow down to Registered/Likely voter polls. So, my expectation remains that Ds will take the House, but it is now a VERY weakly held one. I would not be surprised if it did not flip. And if trends continue (IF), it probably won't. 7/7
— Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) May 14, 2018
Amy Walter, the elections chief at the Cook Political Report, concurs:
Same. Trump has had good month. Job approve slowly ticking up. Most important: Rs not fighting w/ each other, and Trump not attacking GOP leaders. https://t.co/JajyKUIZHY
— amy walter (@amyewalter) May 15, 2018
There have been a lot of good-news polls for the GOP lately and the explanations always boil down to the same factors — the economy, some foreign-policy successes, less drama than usual. It may be that some of the generic-ballot support for Dems last year rested on the suspicion that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing and therefore disaster was perpetually right around the corner. Now that we’re nearly four months into year two and remain disaster-free, some of those suspicions might be starting to lift such that the idea of continued GOP control of government isn’t as scary. It may even be, says Niall Ferguson, that voters are beginning to think Trump knows what he’s doing:
What about Obama’s North Korea policy? In essence, his administration applied ineffectual sanctions that did nothing whatsoever to slow down Kim Jong Un’s nuclear arms program. As Obama left the White House, we were assured that North Korea was still roughly five years away from having intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on them. Not long after Trump’s inauguration, it became clear that North Korea had in fact been just five months away from possessing those assets.
Trump’s approach is almost exactly the opposite of Obama’s. Trump began by explicitly threatening Pyongyang with “fire and fury.” For a time Kim acted defiant, but the fact that both South Korea and China feared Trump was in earnest had its effect. The South Koreans offered olive branches. The Chinese squeezed North Korea’s economic windpipe. Trump then made a key concession: He agreed to a summit meeting with Kim. Next month in Singapore we shall see what comes of it. My guess is that the deal will make Trump’s knee-jerk critics themselves look foolish. He won’t get complete denuclearization, but he will get some. Meanwhile, large-scale South Korean and Chinese investment in North Korea will start the process of prising open the hermit kingdom.
Could be. Nothing can stop the GOP now!
— Sarah Dolan Schneider (@sarahedolan) May 15, 2018