It makes me laugh that Ann Coulter keeps threatening him over the wall at a moment when his polling is the best it’s been in months. It’s sometimes said, and only slightly exaggerated, that “Never Trump” is just six guys grumbling in the break room at the Weekly Standard. Increasingly it looks like “Former Trump” is six guys with frog avatars grumbling on Gab.
But I’m underestimating Coulter. She knows that a blue wave is likely to hit the House this fall no matter what so it’s time to start pre-spinning the narrative for when it does. If Trumpers spend the next six months high-fiving over his awesomeness and the GOP gets wiped out it’ll prove that his base is out of sync with most American voters, which is bad for any political movement but really bad for a populist movement. If they spend the next six months grousing to the New York Times that yes, the economy looks great, but he hasn’t built the fonking wall and that’s all that matters then a midterm wipeout is much easier to swallow. If only he’d built the wall, they’ll say, a magical red wave would have carried the party to new heights. The “silent majority” that was actually a minority two years would have swamped the left this year.
So it’s worth it to her to pretend that “Former Trumpers” exist.
Bruni: The $1.3 trillion spending bill that he signed last week sent you over the edge.
Coulter: Yes. This is a different category you’re seeing now: Former Trumpers. That should be terrifying to the president. Maybe he’ll actually keep his promises. Unlike Marco Rubio. Unlike the rest of them. Unlike Mitch McConnell. We have been betrayed over and over and over with presidents promising to do something about immigration. If he played us for suckers, oh, you will not see rage like you have seen…
This is not Never Trumpers. It was very easy to brush aside Jeb Exclamation Point. Charlie Sykes. Bill Kristol. The Former Trumpers are the ones who would die for Trump, who would defend him from anything, who did defend him and blew off the “Access Hollywood” tape — blew off everything. We kept coming back. He could sell Ivanka Trump merchandise from the Oval Office if he would just build the wall.
If he doesn’t have us anymore — that’s what he should be worried about, because, you play those people for suckers? The ones who stood by him through thick and thin and thought this was finally something different? Former Trumpers should put the fear of God in him.
Is there a nationalist movement driving the right in 2018 or a Trumpist movement? If the movement’s nationalist, you should see POTUS’s numbers tanking in the wake of the omnibus fiasco. He didn’t get the wall; he just installed free-marketeer Larry Kudlow as his chief economic advisor, blunting his protectionist momentum; he’s getting testy with Putin, sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and threatening a new arms race. This isn’t what nationalists signed up for! And yet:
That links to the new poll from Rasmussen, dependably one of the most favorable national surveys for Trump and Republicans, but other polls have seen his numbers rising lately too. He’s been right around 42 percent job approval for the better part of two months in the RCP average, a level he had approached just once in the previous nine months. The share of the country that disapproves of him, 52.6 percent, is tied for the lowest level since last September.
But there’s easy spin to try to counter that: The boost must be coming from people who lean left. A few Democrats and liberal independents watched him cave on the wall in the omnibus and like him a little more now than they used to, supposedly offsetting the exodus of, ahem, “Former Trumpers” from the right. In six months those people will dutifully line up to vote Democratic while “Former Trumpers” will stay home. You can’t replace Trump’s loyal base with fickle center-leftists.
It’s a fine theory but it’s not true. Amy Walter analyzed the recent rosy polls for Trump and found that his numbers have inched up a bit because of support on the right, not the left:
SurveyMonkey’s Mark Blumenthal found that Trump’s recent uptick in their survey data is coming mostly from Republicans. Trump’s job approval among Republicans went from 84 percent last fall, to 88 percent in 2018. Working to Trump’s benefit is the fact that Congress is pretty much done with legislating for the year, which means that the intra-party fighting over policy that we saw over health care and then tax reform, will not be a factor. The issue of DACA could emerge as a pressure point for the party should the courts rule on the issue before the fall election. But, the drama around the president’s personal life or even his choices in cabinet personnel (which has been dominating most of the month) aren’t the kinds of things that push GOPers away from supporting the president.
Walter’s larger point, though, is that Trump’s polling is actually remarkably stable within a narrow band over the past year even if his approval rating moves a bit higher or lower within that band now and then. Around 40-41 percent of the country approves of his performance at any given moment give or take a few points — remarkably consistent considering how volatile his presidency has been between the Comey firing, Russiagate, heavy cabinet churn, the North Korean drama, the daily tweet distractions, the Stormy matter, etc etc etc. It’s precisely because there isn’t any “Former Trump” movement that his numbers never move much. He really could shoot someone — or blow up the wall — in the middle of Fifth Avenue and he wouldn’t lose a single voter. Never Trumpers were horrified at the truth underlying that boast when he first made it a few years ago. Now it’s populists’ turn to be horrified.
Ask yourself: How mad does Trump’s new most famous fan, Roseanne Barr, seem to be about him whiffing on the wall? Instead of complaining about it, she spent the weekend congratulating him on breaking up Democratic sex-trafficking rings, a sub-Pizzagate conspiracy theory she picked up online. By fall, if he still hasn’t built the wall, there’ll be a theory going around that he’s about to have Obama arrested for treason for signing the Iran deal. His job approval might get to 45 percent on that one, even as Coulter yanks every strand of hair from her head in exasperation.