Trump los­ing to him­self in Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - John Brum­mett John Brum­mett, whose col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette, was in­ducted into the Arkansas Writ­ers’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrum­mett@arkansason­line.com. Read his @john­brum­mett Twit­ter feed.

Ac­cord­ing to a con­sis­tently re­li­able poll that dwin­dling Trumpians as­suredly will call fake, you are now as apt in Arkansas to run into some­one out­raged by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as ador­ing of him.

There is a stir­ring across the state, some­thing nei­ther the slum­ber that was nor the awak­en­ing that isn’t yet.

The sur­vey is from Talk Busi­ness and Pol­i­tics and Hen­drix Col­lege, part­ners in a time-tested au­to­mated poll with a sam­ple of slightly more than 500 re­spon­dents that has steadily nailed the trends of Arkansas pol­i­tics dur­ing the Repub­li­can in­sur­gence since 2010.

Speak­ing of trends, here is the one for Trump in Arkansas: He de­feated Hil­lary Clin­ton in Novem­ber by 61-34. The Talk Busi­ness-Hen­drix poll had his ap­proval-dis­ap­proval rat­ing at 6035 in Fe­bru­ary. It had it at 53-39 in April. And now, as of last week, it’s 50-47.

Fewer and fewer Arkansans are lik­ing Trump and more and more aren’t.

Plainly, Arkansas vot­ers are rec­og­niz­ing and re­act­ing to the boor­ish be­hav­ior and ab­sence of leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment by a man whom an over­whelm­ing num­ber of them em­braced only months ago as the ar­chi­tect of a re­newed Amer­ica and de­stroyer of pol­i­tics as usual.

He’s turned out to be the ar­chi­tect only of re­sent­ment and de­stroyer only of dig­nity.

He fares con­sis­tently worse against a generic stan­dard of be­hav­ior than against Hil­lary Clin­ton, which would prob­a­bly be true of just about any­body.

But there is a more telling sub-cat­e­gory find­ing in the poll.

The ap­proval-dis­ap­proval rat­ings ac­tu­ally are dis­trib­uted this way along these cat­e­gories of re­sponse—strongly ap­prove, some­what ap­prove, strongly dis­ap­prove and some­what dis­ap­prove. The 50-47 ap­proval-to-dis­ap­proval find­ing com­bines the strong and the some­what.

But in the spe­cific cat­e­gories of strongly ap­prove and strongly dis­ap­prove, there is this in­ter­est­ing re­sult: 39 per­cent strongly ap­prove of Trump and 40 per­cent strongly dis­ap­prove.

That’s a tie, ob­vi­ously within the mar­gin of er­ror. But it’s telling in terms of adamancy of opin­ion. Trump’s al­ready fad­ing 50-47 ad­van­tage is even weaker when you con­sider that 11 of his 50 fa­vor­able points are soft and only seven of his 47 un­fa­vor­able points are.

Soft sup­port can be worked with, which is to say that those pos­sessed of it are in play.

That is not to say that Repub­li­cans in Arkansas are gen­er­ally in trou­ble. They most likely aren’t; this is about Trump, in­deed a spe­cial case.

But Trump could well be in trou­ble at this mo­ment even in Arkansas if the Democrats could of­fer what they don’t re­motely have in sight, mean­ing a solid and ap­peal­ing stan­dard-bearer. Ab­sent that, Trump could al­ways for­tify his num­bers in this ru­ral con­ser­va­tive state with a sim­ple at­tack on Hil­lary, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.

Those are the real ar­chi­tects of the Repub­li­can rev­o­lu­tion in Arkansas.

We must re­mem­ber that, even as Trump’s pop­u­lar­ity fades in Arkansas from 63 to 50, our state re­mains an out­lier in its rel­a­tively high re­gard for him. Most na­tional polls show his pop­u­lar­ity rat­ing na­tion­wide to be from 36 to 40 per­cent.

Aha, say the dwin­dling Trumpians: Those na­tional polls were so off-base in Novem­ber that no one should be­lieve any poll any­more.

But that’s not cor­rect. The na­tional polls at the end of the pres­i­den­tial race showed Clin­ton lead­ing Trump by about two points on av­er­age. She beat him in the na­tion­wide pop­u­lar vote by pre­cisely that.

The er­ror—by the Clin­ton cam­paign and na­tional po­lit­i­cal prog­nos­ti­ca­tors gen­er­ally—was one hav­ing to do with the dis­tri­bu­tion of that vote. Fewer than 100,000 votes cu­mu­la­tively in Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia pro­vided those states’ elec­toral votes to Trump. That de­fied most of the most-re­cent polls in those states, as well as con­ven­tional think­ing, and cer­tainly the think­ing of the Clin­ton cam­paign.

Clin­ton blew it more than the polling did.

There’s no good rea­son to dis­pute the graph show­ing Trump’s sup­port in Arkansas slant­ing south­ward and the lack of re­gard for him in the state eas­ing north­ward, quite nearly, at the mo­ment, to in­ter­sec­tion.

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