The positive Trump spin on a new HarrisX poll conducted for The Hill is that a slim majority over voters say they're open to re-electing the president next year. The negative interpretation is that nearly half say there's no chance they'd ever vote for him. If these numbers are approximately of the electorate's mood next fall, Trump will need to pull in a disproportionate share of potentially persuadable Americans in order to secure a second term. Here are the top line results, followed by some analysis:
A majority of registered voters in a new poll say they would consider voting President Trump into a second term. Fifty-four percent in the Hill-HarrisX survey released Monday said they would think about voting for Trump, though 46 percent of registered voters said they would not even consider casting a ballot for the president. The polling was conducted before a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's conclusions was released on Sunday by Attorney General William Barr...People who said they backed Trump in 2016 are likely to back him again. Ninety-five percent of respondents who said they had picked Trump in his first run for office said they could find a reason vote for him again in 2020...Seventy-six percent of former Clinton voters said they would "never" vote for Trump but 24 percent said they would at least consider it. Among people who did not vote in 2016, 65 percent said they would never vote for Trump while 35 percent said they could do so.
This isn't great news for Team Trump, but they've clearly got some room to expand his appeal and support, which is a vital necessity. And as the story notes, this polling was in the field prior to the Attorney General revealing Robert Mueller's big-picture finding that the Trump campaign and its allies did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election. Recent surveys had indicated that the public was growing restless over the Special Counsel's probe, increasingly edging toward the president's "witch hunt" framing (Trump now says the investigation was conducted with honor). Could the apparent clean bill of health for POTUS on the central controversy upon which Democrats and the media have fixated throughout his presidency boost Trump's public opinion standing? Allahpundit speculates:
The guy’s not headed towards 60 percent or anything. He probably won’t touch 50 percent. But if he were to inch up to where his new standard job approval is, say, 47 percent or so, that would be a big deal for electoral purposes. The highest rating he’s ever had in the RCP poll of polls is 44.7 percent. That’s his ceiling to date, and a president with a ceiling like that is in deep trouble against any strong-ish Democratic nominee. But a president who’s a few points closer to 50 and suddenly out from under the political thundercloud that’s been following him around since he was inaugurated is a solid favorite to win...Simple question: How much has Russiagate colored public perceptions of Trump? Now that the investigation has put to rest some of the most sinister doubts about him, does he get a fresh look from some “soft” skeptics?...How big is this win? Big enough to give him a bounce of a few points for a few weeks? Big enough to establish a “new normal” in his public approval? Big enough, certainly, to become a campaign rallying cry next year.
Trump should make "no collusion" a rallying cry. He's been shouting it from the rooftops for two years, and the press laughed at him, eagerly spreading stories and rumors that the exact opposite was true. They can pretend they were just 'following facts' all they want; their rooting interest was abundantly clear, which is why virtually all of the "mistakes" cut in the same, anti-Trump direction. Now that he's been cleared by Mueller on collusion, Trump can fire up his supporters by endlessly and rightly claiming vindication over a biased media, making sure that independent-minded voters don't lose sight of the ostensibly massive scandal that never was. The Special Counsel's conclusion on this front is 2020 gold for Trump, as it also hands him a ready-made defense against other accusations of wrongdoing. For what it's worth, an initial Morning Consult survey found no post-Mueller bounce for Trump, but I'm interested in seeing more data.
Back to AP's analysis: "Mueller’s findings not only take impeachment over Russiagate off the table, they make it that much harder for Democrats to sell the public on impeachment should any other serious grounds arise down the road. Trump spent two years assuring people that Mueller’s probe was a witch hunt aimed at delegitimizing him by finding collusion with Russia where none existed; he was wrong to accuse Mueller of being part of that hunt but right that Mueller’s many Democratic cheerleaders were eager participants. The next time they start hollering about witches, how seriously will swing voters take them? The smell of sour grapes will be overpowering." Meanwhile, in the very early going, the (fairly unpopular) incumbent opens the 2020 cycle in an approximate statistical tie with a number of potential challengers, according to a new Fox News poll:
General election match-ups from new Fox News poll:— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) March 24, 2019
Congressional Democratic leaders appear to be quite hopeful to be able to pivot away from Russia, Russia, Russia as soon as possible, sprinting away from their base's years-long obsession. But some of the rank-and-file Kremlin obsessives aren't going to walk away from the impeachment dream so easily. But this is the party's 'official' new approach:
They want to close the book on the collusion panic, and focus instead on healthcare -- a subject on which half of their members want to outlaw 177 million Americans' private coverage, while massively spiking everyone's taxes. Be careful what you wish for, Madam Speaker. Alas, moving forward with a 'positive agenda,' or whatever, may be difficult when the party refuses to vote for the very agenda they claim is crucial and urgent, as proposed by their own colleagues (or even themselves):
Such deja vu:— Miranda Green (@mirandacgreen) March 25, 2019
Ahead of the Senate vote on the Green New Deal @SenMarkey and others are holding a presser promoting "bold climate action"
In Feb. he and others had a similar presser, and that bold action was the GND. Tomorrow he plans to vote "present" on that resolution. pic.twitter.com/uyIMDDvOll
"Sabotage!" Finally, if I were on Team Trump, I'd be looking carefully at data pointing to a GDP growth slowdown, and wondering if that might impact the strong unemployment numbers. You know what might help? A deal with China and an end to anti-growth tariffs.