One year into his presidency, Donald Trump is less popular than he was when he took office. The cacophonous scorched-earth politics that marked his campaign are now the hallmarks of his tenure. Despite numerous accomplishments, including a wholesale revision of the tax code and death of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, Trump appears destined to remain an unloved one-man act that careens from crisis-to-crisis of his own making. “Modern presidential” is no longer entertaining.
For Trump, disdain for and from his detractors may now be standard operating procedure. But for Republican office holders across the country, Trump’s game of thumb-in-your-eye politics may cost the GOP the House, the Senate, and a passel of governors’ mansions. In the end, Trump may do to the Republican Party what Barack Obama did to the Democrats, namely hollow-out their ranks of office holders. Think of Nero fiddling as Rome burned, when he’s not pouring gas on the fire.
On Sunday, Axios reported that Republican leaders believe that a loss of the House is unavoidably “baked in." According to the last round of polls, the Democrats continue to hold a double-digit lead on the generic congressional ballot, with a Quinnipiac Poll released last week pegging that number at 17 points, and a majority of Americans giving Trump a grade of “D” or “F,” not exactly the kind of marks that one associates with a self-described “very stable genius.”
Even as the economy chugs along, and the stock market hits new highs almost daily, Trump can’t get out of his own way. To put things in even clearer perspective, Trump’s numbers are now underwater in Georgia, a state that he won with an absolute majority, and by more than 5 percent.
Apparently, politicians do not live on GDP alone, and it is not only “the economy stupid” -- at least not in the Age of Trump. The president is a cultural barometer, and three consecutive quarters of impressive growth have not been enough to make Americans adore him.
Regardless of whether a deal is ultimately reached on DACA or the budget, the GOP will likely pay a price for Trump and his antics in 2018, with the unanswered question being “how big.”
Indeed, for now, only white men without a four-year degree are staying true to Trump. In contrast, white working class women seem to be slowly heading toward the exits. Nowadays, where “porn star NDAs are now a commonplace in American politics,” according to the New York Times’ Tom Edsall, this shift cannot be called a complete surprise.
To further complicate matters, it is unclear that Trump or his base would countenance Republican candidates putting distance between themselves and him. When Republican senators have sudden cases of amnesia over just what Trump had to say over Haiti and Africa, it is fair to assume that blind loyalty to Trump is the operative coin of the realm. Regardless of whether a deal is ultimately reached on DACA or the budget, the GOP will likely pay a price for Trump and his antics in 2018, with the unanswered question being “how big.”
Even as Trump continues to unleash his daily barrage of Twitter-storms, those closest to the president recognize exactly just what is at stake – the “I” Word, impeachment. Take Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s one-time campaign manage, for example.
According to Lewandowski, “If you look at the numbers … the Democrats only have to take back 24 seats in the House in order to take over. And if that happens, we’ve got a real problem.” In his view, if the Democrats retake the House, impeachment is a real possibility.
Lewandowski is not alone in prophesying a rough ride for Trump in 2018. Steve Bannon, Trump’s ex campaign CEO, top White House adviser, and Michael Wolff’s best source, gave Trump only a three-in-10 shot of completing his first term, while betting that special counsel Robert Mueller would crack Donald Jr. like an egg. Even with the debacle of Roy Moore and Alabama, Bannon’s forecasting skills cannot be ignored.
Election Day 2018 is more than 11 months away, and as 2016 taught us, never count Trump out. Yes, it is too soon to say that a GOP wipeout is assured. But with Trump evidencing no signs of self-control, and the Republican congressional leadership being forced to play cleanup, the odds of a Democratic takeover rise by the day.