To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New Observercast

Trump’s Time’s Up Moment

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BY SUSAN ESTRICH

The man who claimed he could murder former FBI Director James Comey in midtown Manhattan and his base wouldn’t care might still be right.

If you’re still with him right now, you’d probably be with him through anything.

The problem for the president is that the base in shrinking. In the meantime, the Democratic base is growing.

Two weeks after President Trump took office in 2017, Gallup found that 31% of all Americans identified themselves as Republicans, and 31% as Democrats. Today, the Democrats have a 9-point advantage.

In terms of approval ratings, shutdown and meltdowns and all, Rasmussen found that 31% of all Americans strongly approve of the way the president is doing his job. That’s the base. That’s the crowd who will stick with him even if he kills someone – maybe.

But the opposition is 15 points ahead; the percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of his job performance is up to 46%. People who strongly disapprove of politicians very rarely vote for them. And the number of those who somewhat disapprove is up to 56%. On Trump’s worst day in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton never broke 50% in the polls.

If you put those numbers in crude electoral terms, 23% of the electorate is up for grabs: They neither love him nor hate him. The opposition is four points short of a majority; the base is 19 points short. That means the president needs the support of 90% of all Americans who don’t already strongly disapprove of him. And the trends, not surprisingly, show him losing support, not gaining it.

Barry Goldwater won 38% of the vote in 1964, losing to then-President Johnson a year after the Kennedy assassination. It was the worst landslide in modern Republican history.

Even a six- or seven-point margin in a presidential contest is a near wipeout. That’s how much George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis by in 1988. Even taking account of the advantages offered by the Electoral College, it’s still a wipeout.

As of today, the president’s approval rating overall is 13 points lower than his disapproval rating. Rasmussen, which measures the difference between those who strongly approve and strongly disapprove, puts its Presidential Approval Index at -15.

Going into a general election with numbers like that should mean you lose, not win.

There are too many Democrats running. True. But most of them, at least those who aren’t billionaires, will figure out soon that if they don’t win early – really early, maybe even before the first votes are cast – it stops being fun and starts being a threat to their future or their legacy. And it’s very expensive.

Independents like Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz could draw votes from a Democrat and allow Trump to win with a minority, shades of Ralph Nader in 2000. But Ralph Nader only made a difference because the election was so close. By the time November rolls around, the argument about “wasting” your vote gets pretty compelling, especially if the alternative is Trump. Bloomberg or Schultz could win, but only if the Democrat were running a poor third.

And, of course, the president still has the strong economy to run on. But what makes the numbers so significant right now is that they aren’t tracking economic trends.

Poll numbers usually do. The economy being on the right track means the incumbent is, too. Them being on the wrong track is what you “want” when you’re the opponent.

But what’s on the wrong track now isn’t the economy. It’s Donald Trump.

It’s been quite a show for the last two years, like nothing most of us have ever seen – damn scary for quite a few. But it can only go on so long.

The shutdown was too long.

And Donald Trump is not the kind of man who is at his best when he is down. It brings out the worst in him. He hates it, clearly. He doesn’t know how to eat crow. He has never been wrong. Everyone else is; right now, that group includes a majority of Americans.

There comes a tipping point when people start making up their minds, when impressions harden and become more difficult to change. It’s a moment when you can’t turn back, a moment when, in retrospect, it is clear that time was up. This may well be it.

Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer

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Susan Estrich
Susan Estrich
Estrich served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1988, she was the campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential run, even though she had never before managed a political campaign. She was the first female campaign manager of a major presidential campaign, and the first female campaign manager of the modern era. [5] [6] Estrich appears frequently on Fox News as a legal and political analyst, and has also substituted for Alan Colmes on the debate show Hannity & Colmes. She writes regular articles for the conservative website NewsMax, for which she is a pundit.[7] She is also on the Board of Editorial Contributors for USA Today.[8] She is currently a law professor at the University of Southern California Law School and a political science professor at its affiliated undergraduate school. Before joining the USC faculty in 1989, she was Professor of Law at Harvard University, where she was the youngest woman to receive tenure.[9] On January 10, 2008, Estrich joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, a law firm based in Los Angeles, where she chairs their Public Strategy in High Profile Litigation: Media Relations practice area. [10][11] She writes a nationally syndicated print column distributed through Creators Syndicate.