Meh. Yes, technically, GOPers there are divided 40/41 on whether Trump should be challenged. But the same poll has his job approval at 81/12 among the same group, which is roughly what the outcome of the caucuses would be if Larry Hogan or William Weld jumped in, I’m guessing. I wonder if Republican voters are open to seeing Trump primaried not because they’re eager to vote for a different candidate but simply as an outlet for Trump fatigue. After nearly four years of Trump dominating Republican politics and national news in a way no other president has ever done, GOP voters may just want to be reminded that there are other strains of Republican politics still out there.
It’s like walking into your favorite restaurant night after night and having them bring your favorite dish without ever taking your order. At some point you just want to see a menu.
The president has gained in popularity since registered Iowa Republicans were last polled in December. Eighty-two percent now view him favorably, up 5 percentage points, and 15 percent view him unfavorably, down 3 percentage points.
Sixty-seven percent of registered Iowa Republicans definitely plan to vote for Trump in 2020, the poll finds. Eighteen percent say they would consider voting for someone else, 9 percent say they definitely will vote for someone else, 3 percent are unsure and 2 percent don’t plan to vote…
Eighty-two percent of Iowa Republicans who don’t want a GOP challenger say they are almost certain or fairly confident Trump will win re-election. Among Iowa Republicans who want to see a primary election challenger, just 37 percent are almost certain or fairly confident Trump will win re-election.
A primary challenge would be an outlet for that latter group too. Not one in four of them would end up supporting Trump’s opponent, I’d bet, but getting a good look at the alternatives would be a way for them to reassure themselves that they really are playing their strongest hand by renominating Trump. Which they are. The track record of incumbent presidents in winning reelection is so strong, especially when they have good economic results to point to, and the bitterness among his supporters in seeing him successfully challenges would be so ferocious that putting him back on the ballot is almost necessarily a party’s best play.
More numbers from Monmouth. This is a national poll, not a poll of Iowa:
They also polled him head-to-head with Weld and got nearly identical results. More than half the party is firmly in favor of voting for him, 20 percent want to see the menu, another 10 percent are in the “whatever” category, and something like 6-8 percent are “Anyone But Trump.” How does that shake out in an actual vote? Probably 80/15 or thereabouts, I’d guess. Why bother?
— James Pindell (@JamesPindell) March 11, 2019
Oh well. Switching gears, here’s an interesting data point from the Democratic side of that same Monmouth poll, first spotted by The Week. Bernie Sanders is currently winning fewer than 50 percent of Dems nationally who voted for him over Clinton in 2016:
He does pick up 14 percent of Hillary’s voters, but if you’ve wondered how much of Sanders’s support in 2016 was anti-Clinton more so than pro-Sanders, here’s a strong clue that the answer is “most.” Imagine what sort of lead Bernie would have on the field if he were retaining, say, 80 percent of the Berniebros of yesteryear. Still, he’s running strongly enough that moderate Dems should really want Biden in the race: Not only is Uncle Joe soaking up votes from Sanders 2016 fans here, many of his own supporters are treating Bernie as their second choice. (In Iowa, 30 percent of Biden fans have Sanders as their second pick.) A surprise decision by Biden not to run might make the socialist hero very tough to beat.
Oh, almost forgot. The Iowa poll quoted up top found that 90 percent of Republicans there want the president to “run a positive re-election campaign, focusing on the good things he’s done for the country,” versus just four percent who want to see him go negative. Have … any of these people actually seen Donald Trump campaign? We elected an insult comic in 2016. He’s already running on the idea that Democrats hate Jews. Let’s stay vaguely in touch with the political reality we’ve chosen.
Exit question: Is Kirsten Gillibrand really going to finish behind Andrew “Who?” Yang in the Democratic primaries? She’ll drop out before it gets to that, right?