The Corner

Trump’s Standing

Trump is coming into office with record-low poll numbers for a new president. This is surely an artifact of how he managed to win last fall despite his unpopularity and of the contentious environment of the last few months, with Democrats determined to de-legitimize him and Trump not willing to leave any fight, no matter how petty, to his surrogates. Do the numbers matter? Usually you spend political capital over the first year of legislative fights rather than accrue it. This raises the possibility of Trump sinking from a low starting point over the next year, meaning Republicans would enter the 2018 with a president with low approval numbers at the top of the party, which is never a good sign.

On the other hand: 1) It may be that Trump’s approval ratings will always be suppressed because of the way he behaves, but the numbers don’t have the same significance that they had in the past; this would the obverse of the dynamic with Obama — his approval ratings have been elevated, but it wasn’t enough for people to want to vote for a de facto third term. 2) The economy certainly feels like it’s on the verge of a nice run, and this would boost Trump. 3) Events always take a hand. We don’t know what crises he will face in the first year, or how he will react to them. 

Even if Trump is at, say, 35 percent in a year, it’s hard to see him losing his leverage over Capitol Hill Republicans, since the source of it is the intensity of his support, not its breadth.

Finally, Nate Silver takes on the idea that none of the polls can be trusted, which has currency after Trump’s upset victory in November.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

John Brennan’s Bad Behavior

My Bloomberg View colleague Eli Lake is right about this: "[W]hen Brennan uses his authority as a former CIA director to launch flimsy attacks on the president's legitimacy, he validates Trump's claim that the intelligence agencies are biased against him." Over the last two years the president's critics have ... Read More
White House

Bill Clinton Redux

Stormy Daniels could have stepped right out of the 1990s. She would have been a natural in a Bill Clinton scandal, and, in fact, all the same means would have been used against her. Donald Trump’s tactics in these cases are almost indistinguishable from the Clintons’. The effort to shut down the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

If California’s upcoming gubernatorial race gets decided solely by money, Michael Shellenberger doesn’t have a chance. The latest campaign filings show that Shellenberger, an environmentalist from Berkeley, has about $37,000 in cash on hand. The frontrunner in the June 5 California primary, Lieutenant ... Read More

Encouraging Signs in Iraq

Last year, relations between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds reached what was possibly an all-time low when the Kurds held an independence referendum in which 93 percent of voters opted to secede. The timing was no coincidence: Iraqi forces had retreated from Kurdish territory in 2014 as the Islamic ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do Not Congratulate

Do you want some good news out of the gargantuan budget bill now making its way through Congress? Buried among the mountains of pork and assorted unmentionables, there is one random provision I really like. It requires the Congressional Research Service -- which does a huge amount of very valuable policy research ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More