Trump’s troops want ac­tion, hit me­dia and weak Repub­li­cans

Turnout at ral­lies shows base for pres­i­dent re­mains strong

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER

Rosanne Ponkowski of Michi­gan says it’s no mys­tery why Pres­i­dent Trump’s poll num­bers have been slip­ping while the econ­omy is im­prov­ing: It’s the fault of the me­dia and weak-kneed Repub­li­cans in Congress.

Mrs. Ponkowski, pres­i­dent of the Michi­gan Con­ser­va­tive Coali­tion, has been hold­ing a series of Trump ral­lies at din­ers and other spots across the state in the past month. She said frus­tra­tion is build­ing among Trump sup­port­ers against me­dia and con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans.

“When you’ve got a press that doesn’t tell the whole story and a lot of the pub­lic doesn’t know where to look for ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion, that’s what you’re go­ing to get,” she said about the pres­i­dent’s low ap­proval rat­ings. “We feel that Mr. Trump is get­ting quite a bit done in spite of the neg­a­tive press that’s been pil­ing up on him and in spite of the Repub­li­can Congress that’s fight­ing him also.”

The ded­i­cated turnout at th­ese Trump ral­lies — about 10 more are planned through the end of Oc­to­ber — demon­strates what Demo­cratic poll­ster Celinda Lake be­lieves could be a wor­ri­some trend for Democrats next year: Although Mr. Trump has lost some Repub­li­can sup­port, his base still ap­pears to be more mo­ti­vated than Democrats’ core vot­ers.

“The Trump base re­mains en­er­gized,” said Ms. Lake, pres­i­dent of Lake Re­search Part­ners. “Not all the Trump vot­ers, but the base is still pretty en­er­gized. The Demo­cratic base is en­er­gized as well, much more so than the fall of 2016, but still not as en­er­gized as the Trump base.”

Mr. Trump’s job ap­proval rat­ing dropped this week to 37.9 per­cent in the Real Clear Pol­i­tics av­er­age of polls. The gap be­tween those who ap­prove of his per­for­mance and those who dis­ap­prove has reached 19 per­cent­age points, the big­gest deficit of his young pres­i­dency.

But the pub­lic’s view of Congress is far dim­mer. A CNN poll re­leased Thurs­day found that 68 per­cent of re­spon­dents think the Repub­li­can Congress is a fail­ure.

Ap­proval of the Repub­li­can lead­ers in Congress dropped from 39 per­cent in Jan­uary to 24 per­cent now. Mr. Trump re­ceived the ap­proval of 38 per­cent of Amer­i­cans in the CNN poll.

The pres­i­dent still en­joys a sig­nif­i­cant ma­jor­ity of sup­port from Repub­li­cans: 76 per­cent in the lat­est Politico/Morn­ing Con­sult poll, 80 per­cent in the CNN poll. But sur­veys are find­ing that Mr. Trump is los­ing some of the in­ten­sity of his Repub­li­can sup­port — vot­ers who pre­vi­ously said they “strongly ap­prove” of the pres­i­dent but have shifted to “some­what ap­prove.”

A Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll last week showed Mr. Trump for the first time with a neg­a­tive net ap­proval rat­ing among white Amer­i­cans with­out col­lege de­grees, with 43 per­cent ap­prov­ing of the pres­i­dent and 50 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing.

“There has been some ero­sion in in­ten­sity, and that goes across the board, in­clud­ing his hard-core base of non-col­lege-ed­u­cated white vot­ers,” said Repub­li­can poll­ster Whit Ayres, pres­i­dent of North Star Opin­ion Re­search. “It’s a com­bi­na­tion of tem­per­a­ment is­sues and lack of progress on sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ments leg­isla­tively.”

Asked for ex­am­ples of Mr. Trump’s tem­per­a­ment prob­lem with vot­ers, Mr. Ayres pointed to his ag­gres­sive­ness on so­cial me­dia.

“The con­stant tweet­ing, at­tack­ing any­thing that moves,” he said. “Most peo­ple re­al­ize that’s not the best way to get some­thing done.”

Ms. Lake said Mr. Trump’s de­clin­ing poll num­bers af­ter six months in of­fice also show the ef­fects of shift­ing from cam­paign­ing to gov­ern­ing.

“There’s a tip­ping point where you be­gin to own the lack of re­sults on your own agenda,” she said. “You can’t be the out­sider any­more.”

The fail­ure of the Repub­li­can-ma­jor­ity Se­nate to ap­prove a bill to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare, one of Mr. Trump’s top pri­or­i­ties, ex­posed re­newed fric­tion this week be­tween the pres­i­dent and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky. Af­ter Mr. McCon­nell told an au­di­ence in Ken­tucky that Mr. Trump had “ex­ces­sive ex­pec­ta­tions” about the pace of work in Congress, the pres­i­dent hit back at Mr. McCon­nell in a series of tweets.

“Can you be­lieve that Mitch McCon­nell, who has screamed Re­peal & Re­place for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Re­peal & Re­place Oba­maCare!” the pres­i­dent said be­fore break­fast Thurs­day.

Later, Mr. Trump told re­porters that he is not sure if he wants Mr. McCon­nell to keep his job as floor leader.

Mrs. Ponkowski said Trump sup­port­ers in Michi­gan are ea­ger for the midterm elec­tions to de­feat in­cum­bent Demo­cratic Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow and vote for more law­mak­ers who aren’t “Repub­li­can in name only.”

“Peo­ple are re­ally ex­cited,” she said. “We need to get rid of some of the RINOs and re­place them with con­ser­va­tives that love this coun­try and want to make Amer­ica great again.”

As the pres­i­dent tries to hold on to the sup­port­ers who pro­pelled him to vic­tory in Novem­ber, Ms. Lake said, he is en­coun­ter­ing a dif­fi­cult pol­icy bal­anc­ing act. He needs to ap­peal to blue-col­lar vot­ers as well as what she calls “the right-wing el­e­ment,” who some­times have dif­fer­ent pri­or­i­ties.

“It puts him in an awk­ward po­si­tion,” she said. “For the base to stay en­er­gized, you need to do things like the Mus­lim ban, and [a ban on trans­gen­der peo­ple in the mil­i­tary], and [de­fund­ing] Planned Par­ent­hood. But to get back your full vote, you need to fo­cus on things like steel jobs and fix­ing Oba­macare in­stead of re­peal­ing it. It’s get­ting in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to hold this coali­tion to­gether.”

The pres­i­dent and his ad­vis­ers may have hit upon the rare ini­tia­tive that ap­peals to both groups with Mr. Trump’s en­dorse­ment last week of a Se­nate Repub­li­can bill that would cut lim­its on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and pri­or­i­tize im­mi­grants with higher job skills. Ms. Lake said the is­sue ap­peals to swing vot­ers wor­ried about im­mi­grants tak­ing away low-skill jobs from U.S. cit­i­zens.

“That is part of an eco­nomic mes­sage,” she said. “That ar­gu­ment has in­creased in salience.”

Amer­i­cans’ at­ti­tudes about the econ­omy are im­prov­ing, ac­cord­ing to a CBS poll re­leased Thurs­day. In the sur­vey, 69 per­cent rated the econ­omy as good, up 5 points from June; 30 per­cent said it was bad.

In Michi­gan, Mrs. Ponkowski said Trump sup­port­ers are an­gry that the me­dia are “not telling the story of the econ­omy be­ing up.”

“They’re con­cen­trat­ing on Rus­sia hav­ing at­tacked the elec­tion,” she said of the press. “Their fo­cus is on get­ting rid of Mr. Trump and make him as in­ef­fec­tive as pos­si­ble. Where I live, hous­ing sales are boom­ing, small busi­nesses are boom­ing. Peo­ple are ex­cited. I mean, they’re an­gry at the press, they’re an­gry at the Repub­li­cans in Congress, and they’re fully sup­port­ing our pres­i­dent.”

The Michi­gan Con­ser­va­tive Coali­tion be­gan hold­ing the Trump ral­lies last month at the sug­ges­tion of Me­shawn Mad­dock of Oak­land County, a Trump del­e­gate last year, Mrs. Ponkowski said.

“Peo­ple want to know what they can do to help our pres­i­dent. They want to know they’re not the only ones out there feel­ing frus­trated by the press. We need to keep the mo­men­tum go­ing so they come out to vote in 2018.”

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