Repub­li­can can­di­dates get no boost from Trump

Poll­sters feel blue on midterms

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Repub­li­can cam­paigns across the coun­try are reel­ing from in­ter­nal polling that in­creas­ingly shows a blue wave is build­ing for the midterm elec­tions, and they fear Pres­i­dent Trump’s per­for­mance on the stump is not help­ing.

“We are all in deep de­pres­sion right now,” said a prom­i­nent Repub­li­can Party poll­ster who did not want to be iden­ti­fied speak­ing crit­i­cally about the pres­i­dent.

In races that will de­cide whether Repub­li­cans re­tain ma­jori­ties in the House and the Se­nate, polling data con­firm that Demo­cratic vot­ers are more en­thu­si­as­tic than Repub­li­cans and that in­de­pen­dents are lean­ing away from the Repub­li­can Party.

“It is not just me, but ev­ery­body is get­ting back bad num­bers. The pen­du­lum is def­i­nitely swing­ing against us,” said the Repub­li­can poll­ster. “It could be turned around, but right now the Democrats are ready to send the pres­i­dent a mes­sage.”

The trend emerged in a Wall Street Jour­nal/NBC News poll, which found that 52 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers want Democrats to take con­trol of Congress, com­pared with 40 per­cent who want Repub­li­cans in the ma­jor­ity.

The Democrats’ 12-point ad­van­tage is up from 8 points in Au­gust, and it is the largest voter pref­er­ence for a Democra­trun Congress in the poll since Mr. Trump took of­fice.

One bright spot in the data for Repub­li­cans was a nar­row­ing of the en­thu­si­asm gap, with 61 per­cent of Repub­li­can vot­ers say­ing they have high in­ter­est in the elec­tion, nearly match­ing the 65 per­cent of Democrats. Democrats pre­vi­ously had dou­ble-digit leads in voter en­thu­si­asm.

Mr. Trump em­barked last month on the most ag­gres­sive midterm cam­paign sched­ule in re­cent pres­i­den­tial his­tory. He hopes to jolt his sup­port­ers out of a com­pla­cency that of­ten af­flicts the pres­i­dent’s party in midterm elec­tions and al­most al­ways re­sults in the party los­ing House and Se­nate seats.

The pres­i­dent’s party lost seats in all but two midterm elec­tions since the Civil War. The op­pos­ing party av­er­ages a pickup of 32 House seats and two Se­nate seats.

Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to take over the House and two seats to take over the Se­nate.

Mr. Trump con­tin­ues to ex­cite his base at huge “Make Amer­ica Great Again” ral­lies, but his mes­sage has not moved the nee­dle in cru­cial races.

His stump speech is dom­i­nated by a recita­tion of Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­com­plish­ments. Part of the prob­lem for Repub­li­cans is a dis­con­nect be­tween Mr. Trump and vot­ers about the na­ture of those ac­com­plish­ments.

“We have the best econ­omy in our his­tory,” the pres­i­dent said at a rally last week in Ne­vada. It is a stan­dard line in his stump speech.

De­spite a low un­em­ploy­ment rate, ris­ing house­hold in­come and soar­ing stock mar­kets, Amer­i­cans ei­ther don’t agree that the boom has reached his­toric pro­por­tions or don’t give Mr. Trump and fel­low Repub­li­cans credit for it.

Likely vot­ers gave Mr. Trump one of his high­est ap­proval rat­ings for his han­dling of the econ­omy in a Fox News poll pub­lished this week, with 52 per­cent ap­proval and 42 per­cent dis­ap­proval.

Yet 54 per­cent of likely vot­ers in the same poll said they were not sat­is­fied with the di­rec­tion of the coun­try.

In an­other mea­sure, 42 per­cent of likely vot­ers said they were get­ting ahead fi­nan­cially. But a larger share — 45 per­cent — said they were just able to pay most bills, and 11 per­cent said they were fall­ing be­hind, ac­cord­ing to the poll.

Last month, a Ras­mussen Re­ports survey found that more Amer­i­cans — 47 per­cent — were giv­ing Mr. Trump credit for the eco­nomic up­swing. But nearly as many — 42 per­cent — gave the credit to his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama.

On the stump, Mr. Trump boasts about progress to­ward North Korean de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and his prow­ess on the world stage.

“Amer­ica is win­ning again, win­ning like never be­fore, and Amer­ica is be­ing re­spected again be­cause we are fi­nally putting Amer­ica first,” he said at a cam­paign rally in Spring­field, Mis­souri.

A re­cent CNN poll found that 36 per­cent of Amer­i­cans ap­prove of Mr. Trump’s han­dling of for­eign af­fairs, while 56 per­cent dis­ap­prove.

His rat­ing on for­eign af­fairs has been rel­a­tively con­sis­tent since he took of­fice in Jan­uary 2017 and never reg­is­tered above 40 per­cent.

Mr. Trump touts the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s crack­down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, in­clud­ing be­gin­ning con­struc­tion of a wall on the south­west­ern border that was a top cam­paign prom­ise in 2016.

He is also in neg­a­tive ter­ri­tory on the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue. Among likely midterm vot­ers, 42 per­cent ap­prove of Mr. Trump’s han­dling of im­mi­gra­tion and 54 per­cent dis­ap­prove, ac­cor­dion to the Fox News poll.

Mr. Trump isn’t sweat­ing the polls — at least not in pub­lic.

In Mis­souri, he mused about his un­ex­pected win in 2016 when most in the news me­dia were bet­ting he would lose in a land­slide, in­clud­ing in Repub­li­can stronghold­s such as Ge­or­gia and Texas.

“You know why? Be­cause they’re phony polls. They have phony polls,” said Mr. Trump.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump em­barked last month on the most ag­gres­sive midterm cam­paign sched­ule in re­cent pres­i­den­tial his­tory.

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