Gallup had him down to 37 percent over the weekend, but he was back to 39 yesterday and ticked up again to 40 percent today. That seemed to ease suspicions that the health-care bill had become an anchor around Trump’s ankles … until Quinnipiac’s new one this afternoon put Trump at 37/56 approval, down four points in just two weeks.
What’s the best outcome for him at this point in terms of pure political capital? Have the bill die quickly and then move on to more popular agenda items, or have Ryan ram it through today and bask in the glow of that victory — with another slog set to begin in the Senate immediately afterward?
President Trump is losing support among key elements of his base:
Men disapprove 43 – 52 percent, compared to a 49 – 45 percent approval March 7;
Republicans approve 81 – 14 percent, compared to 91 – 5 percent two weeks ago;
White voters disapprove 44 – 50 percent, compared to a narrow 49 – 45 percent approval March 7.
A 10-point slide within his own party in two weeks is noteworthy, even though his approval within the GOP remains stellar. Among the wider public, in terms of net points, he’s lost nine on whether he’s honest, 12 on whether he has good leadership skills, and 11 on whether he cares about average Americans. The interval between the last poll, on March 7th, and this one almost perfectly overlaps with the introduction and sale of the health-care bill. The word is out, it seems, that the new bill is more conservative and less populist than many people expected a Trump health-care bill would look like. So why not make it more populist?
Don’t forget, though: Quinnipiac has had some of the worst polls for Trump during his presidency to date, a fact I noted a month ago. Eyeball the list of pollsters compiled by RCP since January 20th and you’ll find most have had him consistently in the low to mid 40s. Quinnipiac’s had him at 38 percent or worse in three of the five polls they’ve conducted over the same period. The fact that he was at 41 percent two weeks ago in their poll was an unusually good result for him by Q standards rather than today being an unusually bad one. For whatever reason, the Q-poll is almost always bad news for Trump. If you don’t want to chalk up the bad numbers here to a pollster “house effect,” though, and you’re unpersuaded that the health-care bill is hurting him all that much, here’s another possibility from the Quinnipiac crosstabs:
Those numbers are dismal even by the normal Q benchmarks. In particular, it’s rare to see support for Trump evenly split within his own party on virtually any subject. It may be that the “wiretapping” follies, which have intruded on his health-care sales pitch and even swallowed up the first day of the Gorsuch confirmation hearing this week, have exasperated enough people to compound whatever damage he’s suffered over the GOP bill. If he’d tweeted the wiretapping stuff but the bill was great, maybe everything would be fine; if the bill was bad but he’d never tweeted about wiretapping, maybe that’d be fine too. But put them together and there may be sufficient frustration among voters that neither the policy substance nor the message discipline is where it needs to be right now as to drive his overall approval below 40.
Here’s an interesting vignette from CNN about a Trump super-fan who followed him around the country last year, singing songs about him outside events, and who’s now heartbroken that Trump’s backing a health-care bill that doesn’t do more to cover treatment for addiction. That bill would be a more populist bill, but that’s not the bill we have.