By Dave Andrusko
Before I offer some thoughts on a very encouraging new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, let me just throw this out as food for thought (or to choke on, I suppose).
Let’s say, for the sake of discussion, Jenna Johnson, the Washington Post reporter whose story I read this morning, was writing about Barack Obama, whom the Post adored, rather than Donald Trump, whom the Post hates with unbridled passion.
Let’s say President Obama (whose popularity at a comparable time in his first administration is now lower than President Trump’s is) decided that he’d play to his base. Ask yourself this. If his approval numbers are only 45%, why waste precious time and energy and resources going to the parts of the country where he was less than loved rather than go to areas where he could more readily “motivate the troops”?
I’m guessing the headline for Johnson’s comparable story in 2010 would be along the lines of “President Obama shrewdly plays to his strength, encourages base to get out to vote Democratic.”
What’s the headline for today?
Trump’s comfort zone this year: Smaller venues and rapturous fans in places where he remains popular– The president has mostly stayed away from the suburban battlegrounds that will determine control of Congress in November.
You can’t make this stuff up. President Trump is addressing enormous crowds with thousands and thousands and thousands trying to get in but can’t. But the message from Johnson is not that he’s rallying the base—the prime directive in any election—but rather that he’s choosing smaller venues in areas where he is especially popular.
What about the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll? Tom Bevan, over at Real Clear Politics, captured it perfectly in a tweet:
1) D’s +9 in national generic ballot
2) In House battlegrounds generic ballot tied
3) Trump approval rating highest of presidency
4) GOP largest lead on economy in poll history
Those do not sound like the components of a “blue wave.” https://t.co/CZMK6qSeOY
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) October 21, 2018
Translated that simply means that the mainstream media continues to focus on the irrelevant—that Democrats have a near double digit lead in the national generic ballot where people are asked which party (not which candidate) they would vote for.
What matters is the 66 battleground districts. There the two parties are tied.
In addition, President Trump’s approval numbers are at their highest point. On top of that Republicans enjoy a 15 point advantage on the question of which party is best at dealing with the economy, the “highest level ever for the GOP,” according to Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey. “Those numbers can’t look good for Democrats who have been campaigning in this cycle to make the midterms a referendum on Trump” .
By the way, the number one factor respondents said was most important in deciding their vote for Congress? Economy/jobs.
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