Sometimes the buffalo gets away.
Democrats are digging deeper into their bunkers.
Yesterday this blog said we had passed the period of "peak Trump" and that Trump was losing support. He is being brought down, I wrote, by the same process that crippled Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, relentless accusers and investigators, now in the form of Michael Averatti and Robert Mueller. I likened it to this image, Averatti having grabbed and held onto the rear with the Stormy Daniels route to Michael Cohen and his "fixer" work for Trump, making room for Mueller to go for the throat with indictments.
This buffalo is not doomed, not yet. Sometimes he gets away. He can slog his way to the middle of his herd where buffalo allies gore the lions. Sometimes the buffalo uses the terrain and can brush the lions off with tree branches.
Donald Trump has Republican friends, and he is governing to to pull those friends closer. He just announced that he is doubling down on the abortion issue, calling for de-funding of any organization that makes referrals to abortion clinics. His evangelical base will ignore Trump's private life, so long as he carries their message on abortion. The school shooting in Texas makes Trump's bond to the NRA that much more valued by gun rights advocates. Trump has his herd.
Trump knows the political terrain better than the Democrats. Democrats are tone deaf to the desire of a great many Americans for affirmations of national greatness. Many Americans want to feel pride in the home team. A black president, combined with increased immigration numbers from Latin America and Asia, created an atmosphere ripe for Trump's ethno-nationalism. Democrats have not co-opted those emotions and given them a progressive, inclusive channel of expression. Instead, they rejected messages of national pride as xenophobic, racist, and worst of all "Trump-like." Trump has terrain to use.
|Click: In These Times|
Currently Democrats are winning elections by going college-town left. There are Democratic pluralities within the "woke", educated, progressive Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren left. This might work for Democrats if progressives will let an economic leftist send the right message on American culture. A candidate from this perspective could choose to express a progressive form of national greatness patriotism and win back the White House. However, he or she may not be allowed to do that because the progressive left associates pride with prejudice. A candidate who speaks to patiortism and faith and national pride may not be sufficiently non-Trump.
Democrats may allow the buffalo alone to claim the favorable terrain.
Today we have a guest post.
Thad Guyer is an attorney specializing in representation of employee whistle-blowers. He was recently cited in The New Yorker as the attorney who made a powerful winning argument in a case involving digital hacking--New Yorker: Click here He watches American politics from his primary home in Vietnam, and his perspective is data-driven, in contrast to the narrative and symbolic and allegorical perspective I bring to politics. I see buffalo and lions; he sees poll results and trends.
He disagrees with me on Trump's trend.
Guest Post, By Thad Guyer
"Trump’s Low Approval Ratings are an Illusion”
Although Democratic pundits can’t make themselves cope with it, Trump was elected with the lowest approval ratings in first term recorded history. There is almost no evidence suggesting that his low approval numbers translate to electoral vulnerability. If fact, the evidence is to the contrary.
First and foremost is the “generic preference poll” which has high historical accuracy for predicting which party will win in the midterms. The Democrats' big lead has fallen from +14 to +3 (CNN) and to just +1 (Reuters). It’s average is at its all time low since Trump was elected, down to 4.0%. (See, Real Clear Politics charts: Click Here.)
It is trending red. Why is this important? Because generic preference cannot statistically be disengaged from presidential approval. This means either the Real Clear Politics, CNN, Reuters etc. generic preference measures are off, or else the presidential approval numbers are wrong. The “data journalists” at both Five Thirty Eight and the New York Times stand behind the former. (See NYT, “Democrats are Dominating the Generic Ballot”: Click Here
(We are no longer dominating, and consequently left-leaning media has all but stopped reporting the generic preference numbers they were touting loudly just four months ago). This strongly suggests the Trump approval rating, just as it was when he got elected, is seriously off. In a recent analysis in the Washington Post, some estimates are that Trump’s approval is probably 8 to 10 points higher than reported.
Second, a different but related data set— the “right direction” index—suggests Trump’s popularity is much higher than reported. This index tracks whether likely voters think the country is moving in the right or wrong direction. Unsurprisingly, the right direction and presidential approval numbers historically track together. If a president’s approval is low then those voters also tend to say the country is headed in the wrong direction. The problem is that Americans strongly believe the country is headed in the “right direction”, and give Trump credit and high marks on the polling subsets. That is, while likely voters say their bottom line is that they disapprove of Trump overall, the subset measures of approval on the economy, job growth, foreign policy, etc. are much higher. This index also suggests Trump’s popularity may be 8 to 10 points under-reported. (See, Washington Post, “Has the Political Climate Improved--Marginally--for Republicans”, Click Here.
Finally, the millennial voter turn-out data suggests Trump is not as unpopular as younger voters tell pollsters. During the special elections and recent primaries, millennial turnout has been low. Indeed, like Oregon, overall voter turnout nationally is down, meaning that voters who supposedly disapprove of Trump are not showing up at the polls to prove it. (See, The Atlantic, “The GOP’s Generational Bet”: Click Here.
The bottom line is that just as I said in Peter’s 2016 podcast series that the data was clearly pointing to a Trump win in November 2016, and that voters were lying about their support for Trump, I see the same data indicators for the midterms. I also see the liberal media once again lulling Democrats into false confidence. If the generic preference poll goes red as the trending suggests, the GOP will likely actually gain seats in Congress and the Senate. And the reason for this is Trump’s popularity is both closeted and strong.