Trump losing to himself in Arkansas
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.