Been doing some background reading and thinking in recent days on our politics, economy and president from recent weeks. We have what my grandmother would call “a puzzlement.”
Maybe you missed this too. A lot of Trump-haters would want to miss it. But Gallup this summer found that Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of our country has reached the highest point (38 percent) in 12 years, all the way well back into the George W. Bush presidency.
Gallup has measured the country’s satisfaction rate at least monthly since 2001. It has reached the 35 percent level only six times in all those years. And three of them came during this year, the second of the Donald Trump presidency.
You missed this impressively positive news because the media was busy elsewhere covering Trump’s outrageous tweets and threats, which is easier and goes down smoothly with their audiences and agenda.
The economy is expanding at a 4.1 percent annual rate at last report. Millions of jobs have been created the people hired Trump in January 2017. Unemployment has dropped to 3.9 percent, a larger percentage drop even among blacks and Hispanics. That was another Trump promise from 2016. Remember, Trump said the other party hasn’t delivered for those sectors, what do they have to lose by voting for me?
And yet Trump’s job approval is mired in the mid to low 40 percent range. The RealClearPolitics average has him now at 43.1 percent approval and 52.6 percent approval, a gap of 9.5 points. That’s no longer historically low. In fact, it’s right around other recent presidents at this point in their first terms.
But with all this good economic news Trump should certainly be flying higher than, say, Obama who struggled with an economic crisis and spent a trillion dollars in stimulus money to no great end.
Trump has not much room to improve his standing among Republicans, nine out of ten of whom approve of his performance. The Never Trumpers are unlikely ever to approve of anything Trump does.
Which leaves those crucial independent swing voters. They are, well, swinging between support and doubt. They’re worried apparently by Trump’s behavior. That puts this president in a difficult spot.
Those loyal supporters care less about the specifics and veracity of Trump’s outspoken statements and much more that he is talking tough, even crudely at times, to establishments in both parties. He feeds off those cheers and chants at his rally and wants more. Any president loves such adulation and, even though Trump’s name is on no ballot, we’ll see many more such rallies before Nov. 6.
The puzzlement is how can Trump keep his loyal base loyal and happy by talking trash to the elites while acting more presidential to lure over enough of those persuadable swing voters to prevent a Democrat takeover of the House and possibly the Senate in 13 weeks?
The outlook for the next two years and a potential second term both depend on it.