The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll should send a shudder through the Republican Party. Only 38 percent of Americans approve of President Donald Trump’s performance, while 58 percent disapprove, 48 percent strongly so. The majority of the poll was taken after the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (for which a majority gives Trump credit).
Trump’s approval ratings in battleground states such as Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin (40 to 55 percent) are only slightly better than his overall numbers.
A plurality (49 to 47 percent) approve of impeachment and removal, while a large majority (58 to 34 percent) disapprove of how he is handling impeachment. Perhaps smearing respected civil servants, threatening the whistleblower and insulting members of Congress is not the way to go. By a margin of 55 to 35 percent, Americans think Trump did something wrong regarding Ukraine; 47 percent say he did something seriously wrong. It is a good thing the House is moving to open hearings — by a 65 to 33 percent margin, Americans do not like the closed-door proceedings.
Sixty-six percent think Trump has behaved in an unpresidential way, and 58 percent say in a way damaging to the United States. A majority thinks the pullout in Syria damaged our image as a reliable ally, and a majority (54 to 28 percent) think he has made us less respected in the world.
Democrats’ numbers are not stellar either. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s approval numbers (38 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove) and Democrats’ handling of impeachment (43 vs. 50 percent) are underwater, but far more positive than Trump’s.
If they drill down on Trump’s approval numbers, Republicans might go into full panic mode. His approval numbers are atrocious among women (31/64), white college graduates (38/61), women college graduates (32/67), suburban dwellers (41/56) and independents (38/57). Among suburban women he trails 33 to 63 percent. He is surviving almost entirely on white evangelicals (74/23).
The top takeaways from this survey should be sobering for Republicans.
First, unless you are a Senate Republican from a state with a whole lot of white evangelicals, association with Trump may be injurious to your political survival. That should leave lawmakers such as Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., from states with less than 26 percent white evangelicals looking to separate themselves from Trump (and consider breaking with him on impeachment).
Second, this is not a 50-50 country, but rather a country approaching 40-60 as Trump alienates just about every cross-section outside his base. Trump’s base is a dwindling minority of the population, and as isolated as his supporters are in the right-wing media bubble, that bubble has not tainted the majority of the country.
Third, Trump’s numbers with Americans under 30 (22/72) suggest he (and perhaps the Trumpized brand of politics) is going to wane as these Americans age and vote in greater numbers.
Finally, Republicans who deny Trump did anything wrong might want to think how that is going to play when even before they hear the evidence directly, 55 percent say he did something wrong, 47 percent seriously so. They might want to start thinking how they can exact some punishment — and throw him overboard before he drags the entire party under in 2020. Democrats should start thinking about how to explain in public hearings that what Trump did is so wrong as to necessitate impeachment.
All in all, if Republicans ever break free of their irrational fear of Trump and his base (whose power is amplified by gerrymandering and the electoral college), they might recognize that saving him is becoming incompatible with saving themselves.