Approval slide bad sign for Trump

Editorial | Mary Ma 12 Sep 2018

US economic figures couldn't be better, but Republicans running in mid-term elections in November to retain control of Congress are feeling the "blue" threat - and not without good reasons.

Certainly, there was the untimely release of veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward's bombshell book, Fear: Trump in the White House. The book gives a detailed account of the crazy stuff at this White House, where staffers would steal and hide documents from the president, for fear he would endanger national security.

There was also the "gutless" letter of quiet resistance sent by members of Trump's team to The New York Times.

Nearly everybody in the White House came under suspicion, with figures as high ranking as Vice President Mike Pence having to deny being part of the plot to remove Trump from office.

Even without former president Barack Obama's calling out the crazy stuff going on at the White House of the "orange president," people with a sane mind would have arrived at a similar conclusion. For what else could all these be if not crazy?

But Trump's fellow Republicans have a greater concern on their minds. As the mid-term election campaign enters the home stretch, upbeat economic growth figures aren't translating into support for Trump, the symbolic face of the Grand Old Party.

If even the economy - the Republicans' trump card - isn't functioning as desired, they could be in serious trouble.

A recent survey by Quinnipiac University showed 70 percent of voters described the economy as excellent or good, but only 38 percent approved of the job Trump is doing, compared to 54 percent disapproving. The pollster said Trump's poor rating was compounded by lows on honesty, strength and intelligence.

A similar trend was reported in a CNN/SSRS poll despite the figures being different.

So, it's no longer unimaginable for the color of Congress changing from Republican red to Democratic blue after the mid-term votes less than two months from now. If voters were Trump's strength in 2016, they're his Achilles' heel in 2018.

On the opposite camp, the Democrats are turning to Obama for help to fire up grassroot voters in red districts where former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was unable to mobilize during the presidential election in 2016.

What does that mean? It means Democrats haven't gained as much ground as wished, despite progress in these areas over the past two years. That's disappointing because, in plunging into the campaign, Obama is also breaking the tradition that a former president would avoid criticizing the incumbent.

Clearly, the Democrats are expecting Obama to take a leading campaign role, hoping he can fire up voters to turn out in great numbers on November 6.

Obama's formula of success is about building coalitions across racial, socioeconomic and geographical divides. It's simple in theory, but hard to execute - tough enough even for Clinton. It's very likely the American grassroots will see Obama - the Democrats' national face - more often at rallies to build the coalitions.

In this sense, the mid-term elections also pit Trump against Obama.

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