I haven’t written much about President Trump since he took office. However, it may be time to take stock of what’s going on in the country because I’ve read so many outlandish comments, both from him and against him.
A year ago, I said that both Trump and Hillary Clinton were deeply flawed candidates. Hillary has just come out with her new book, “What happened,” trying to explain away
her own failures. Losing to a relatively weak candidate like Trump can’t be glossed over. We forget how the entire Democratic National Committee operation was working on her behalf against Bernie Sanders, and that she still had a difficult time securing the nomination.
However, Trump is our president, and from almost Inauguration Day, we have had critics calling for invoking the 25th Amendment because he is allegedly mentally unfit to hold office (which would be nothing short of a coup d’etat) or impeaching him. Impeachment is supposed to be because of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and it is doubtful that stupid tweets or even frequent lying rise to that level.
One thing remains quite obvious, however. Love him or hate him, hardly anybody is looking at the bigger picture. Most Americans prefer only to reinforce their own views of him.
The facts say something else. The reality is that his base of voters remains steadfast in its support. He dropped about 5 percent in his approval ratings from January through May, but held relatively steady over the summer months, even with his poor response to the fatal riot in Charlottesville, Va.
Make no mistake, the polls show that if he were to run today against Mr., Mrs. or Miss Anybody Democrat, he would lose. But the same could have been said a week before last year’s election. In fact, he did lose the popular election by 3 million votes, but won through the Electoral College.
In late July, the Gallup Poll released the results of a massive state-by-state poll involving 81,155 adults who were surveyed from Inauguration Day through the end of June. Overall, the poll found 54 percent disapproved of Trump’s performance and 40 percent approved. At the end of last month, Realclearpolitics.com, which reports the results of all the major polls, found that throughout August, the composite average was 55 percent disapprove and 39 percent approve of Trump’s performance, low for the first six months of a new president, but unsurprising given the nature of his election.
The Gallup Poll mentioned above actually broke down his support by state. And that’s where it gets interesting. In no fewer than 17 states, Trump’s approval rating was 50 percent or higher. In two other states, his approval rating was higher than his disapproval. And in three states his disapproval rating was still under 50 percent.
The differences between the states is huge. West Virginia remains Trump’s best state. There, 60 percent approve and only 35 percent disapprove of the job he is doing. In Vermont, his worst state, 71 percent disapprove and only 26 percent approve.
Minnesota leans Democratic, and Gallup finds that this state ranks 34th highest in its support of Trump. Among Minnesotans, 57 percent disapprove and 39 percent approve, close to the national average.
While we still have a long time before next year’s election, it is shaping up to be a big year for Democrats. But given the weakness of Trump, it still may not be as bad for the Republicans as it first seems. For those Democrats who want to impeach Trump, the problem is that only eight Republican senators will be up for re-election, compared to 25 Democrats. Those senators were elected in 2012, riding the coattails of Barack Obama.
Of the eight Republicans, six of them represent states in which Trump’s approval rating is higher than his disapproval rating. The other two, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, may be in trouble. Flake, in particular, is considered to be conservative, but has also been exceptionally critical of Trump.
Meanwhile, four Democratic senators represent states where Trump’s approval rating is still positive: Sen. Joe Manchin in Trump’s best state, West Virginia, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in Trump’s second best state, North Dakota; Sen. Jon Tester in Montana, Trump’s fifth best; and Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Trump’s 18th best.
The Republicans control the Senate, 52-46, with two Independents (Sanders and Maine Sen. Angus King) who vote Democratic. Thus, the Democrats need to pick up three seats to take control, since Republican Vice President Mike Pence would break any tie votes.
Even if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives and impeach Trump, it is difficult to see how a Republican-controlled Senate would ever convict him, knowing that most of the GOPers represent states that approve of Trump’s performance thus far.
I remain concerned about Trump’s repeated attacks on the media. While the liberal media — meaning primarily ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post — repeatedly reveal an anti-Trump bias, in this day and age, a thousand voices can be found and heard, many of them conservative or Republican. That’s why Trump’s base is hanging tough and why the over-the-top criticism by the left has not had more effect.
Tom West can be reached at [email protected]