Though polls have lost their credibility in the wake of the 2016 election, it's hard to believe that his latest approval ratings are off by wide margins. A Gallup poll shows him with only a 37 percent approval rating. When it came to the election, the national polls were off by 1 or 2 percent (remember that Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote). I hardly believe the Gallup poll is somehow off by ten and his real approval rating is something like 47 percent. Polls can be inaccurate at time, but they don't miss something by that much.
Nevertheless, a very loyal Trump supporter could tell me that polls don't matter anymore because the his re-election bid isn't until 2020. What I am concerned about is the way the president is destroying himself and the Republican Party with the way he handles the press.
In the past, I've mentioned something called political capital. Think of it as the money a president has. That money is then spent on things they need to do. They aren't just spending political capital on policies, but also in defending themselves against the media and handling spontaneous problems that arise in any administration. Lower approval ratings and media unpopularity do drain political capital and make it harder to pass and implement legislation.
Now it is important to recognized that all of the blame should not go to Trump. I think a handful Republicans in Congress are complete imbeciles when it comes to health care reform. Even though it's a only small number who are causing trouble, the ramifications will hit almost every Republican member of Congress in the 2018 midterms.
Trump comes into the equation because most midterm elections are simply referendums on the president. Political analyst Sean Trende pointed this out in the 2014 midterms. In the states where President Obama's approval rating was at 44 percent or lower, Republicans gained Senate seats. The Republicans do have some good news. There's only a handful of seats they have to defend and most of the states they're in are very conservative. Republican voters are also more likely to show up in midterm elections. That being said, even one defeat makes governing harder. They only have 52 of the 100 seats. We should also want to gain seats in the Senate, not lose them.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who didn't vote for Trump, has consistently noted that the president has no character. That isn't likely to change, since he's over seventy, but a lack of character only hurts himself. This isn't The Apprentice. Shapiro writes:
Trump, his conservative defenders said, was a real-estate mogul — the most powerful real-estate mogul in America. That made him, by inductive reasoning, a decent person, despite his adulterous liaisons.
But many conservatives refused to acknowledge the two points about Trump that should have given them cause for concern, even if they believed the somewhat flawed meritocracy-character link. First, Trump didn’t earn his magnate status; Trump inherited a massive amount of wealth from his father and, by most available estimates, has significantly underperformed the real-estate market. Second, and more important, there is at least one area of meritocracy where conservatives discard the supposed character-success link: in the entertainment industry. Conservatives have always understood that talent for entertaining and quality of character may actually be inversely linked: You’d be hard-pressed to find a conservative touting Kim Kardashian’s success as proof of her good character.
Trump is an entertainer. He acts like an entertainer. He obsesses about his ratings, he spends hours on his hair, he agonizes over public perceptions of his successes and failures. He cannot bear to be out of the spotlight, and he feels personally threatened by those who occupy it more than he does for any period of time.
When the president isn't busy attacking MSNBC hosts for their facelifts, he is on the defensive over the Russian investigation. There's still no shred of evidence to prove Trump personally colluded with the Russians, but his son Donald Jr. certainly attempted to do so. Actions like these only damage the popularity of the Trump administration and force his team to deflect new questions. It also gives Robert Mueller the justification he needs to continue his investigationConservatives wouldn’t pretend that Paris Hilton would make a good president because she’s so successful in her other ventures. Yet many conservatives told themselves a story whereby Trump was more Warren Buffett than Paris Hilton, so they could continue to maintain the positive image of his character.
Trump's tweets and interviews only seem to hurt himself. His attacks on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, only damages his agenda and allows the media to focus on the negative parts of his presidency. The president said he would've never hired Sessions if he knew he was going to recuse himself. Worse, Trump hasn't backed down from his criticisms, calling Sessions "weak" on crimes committed by Hillary Clinton. Comments like these only draw suspicion.
Mueller has strong credentials and is respected by both sides of the aisle. With twelve years of experience as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he has little to be worried about and a seemingly limitless abundance of resources. Trump might have a history of handling litigation, but when it comes to the presidency things are very different. Social media offers our politicians a new medium to communicate with the people, but this can be good and bad. Right now, Trump's use of social media is create self-inflicted wounds.