Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Numbers Behind Washington Post-ABC News Poll Reveal Depth of Trump's Re-Election Troubles

This morning the results a new Washington Post-ABC News poll on President Donald Trump's popularity was released.   The top line of that poll is Trump has a 40% approval rate among registered voters, 38% among the general population. As is typical with news coverage of polls, that finding is what gets almost all the coverage.

But it is the other the other data in the polls, the cross tabs, which are often more significant and telling than the totals that get widely reported.  The is true definitely with regard to the Post-ABC News poll, which highlights the mountain Trump would have to climb to be re-elected.

Let's take a look at those cross-tabs:

Of the 56% of the poll respondents who said they disapproved of Trump, 48% of those said they "strongly" disapproved of him.  Meanwhile just 27% "strongly" approved of Trump.  The 48% and 27% are hard numbers, i.e. it is highly unlikely that those "strong" respondents can be budged from their positions.  48% means it is virtually impossible for Trump to get a majority of the vote.  Of course, there is still the Electoral College.

It doesn't take long to find out why Trump is so deeply underwater. Women.  Most women loathe Donald Trump.   In the poll, Trump is 34 points under water with women.  Of the 64% of women disapprove of Trump, 54% do so strongly.  Again, that 54% is a hard number.  Trump's support among men is much better, 47% approve and 47% disapprove.  But Trump's numbers among men on Election Day needs to be much, much better than that to offset women.

I always thought Trump was popular with Catholics so the cross-tab that showed Trump under water, 46% to 48%, with Catholics caught me by surprise.  Probably the most interesting thing about that cross tab is that the large "strong" numbers that make up these totals - 41% and 38% respectively.  Catholics are certainly not on the fence when it comes to Trump.

Although Trump's overwhelming support among Republicans is often touted, the poll Post-ABC poll does not show that.  Trump polled at 82% approval among Republicans, which is a far cry from the 94% the President often cites.  Perhaps even more significantly, only 66% of the GOP respondents said they "strongly" approve of the President.

When it comes to self-identified conservatives, Trump's approval is 73% and only 57% of those conservatives say they strongly approve of Trump.  This is consistent with my position that, although the media constantly portrays Trump's actions and words as "conservative," many long-time conservatives, like myself, do not at all agree with that characterization.

While it is still early, I don't buy the assumption that these numbers are fluid.  The polling seems pretty set in stone.  What is not set in stone though is turnout.  Trump is obviously counting on that his GOP base will turn out and Democrats, and independents who have turned strongly against Trump after the 2016 election, will not go to the polls.  I wouldn't bet on it.  While Republicans did turn out exceptionally well in 2018, so did the Democrats.  That mid-term election, which Trump portrayed as a referendum on himself, resulted in the GOP getting thrashed at the polls.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Why are NRSC Campaign Resources Being Used to Sell a Senator's Books?

The last few days, I've received in my email inbox solicitations to buy Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's new book "Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery."   What I found perplexing is that the solicitation came from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an entity which bills itself as "the only national organization solely devoted to strengthening the Republican Senate Majority and electing Republicans to the United States Senate." Why in the world is an officially established party political action committee involved in a non-political activity, i.e. selling books?

When I dug into the NRSC website, I found an entire page devoted to selling Cotton's books.  It would appear that by making a large enough "contribution" ($35 or more) to the NRSC, one can receive a Cotton book.  By the way, one can buy a hard cover copy of the book on Amazon for $14.49.  The fact that hard cover copies of the book are priced that low on the open market suggests they were not selling.  That might have been the reason, Cotton turned to the NRSC to sell his books. 

But how does the arrangement work?  Did Cotton donate his books to the NRSC to sell?  Or did the NRSC buy a bunch of Cotton books that it is now hawking on its website and in GOP emails?   Or is the NRSC selling the books for Cotton on consignment?   Is Cotton personally profiting off the sale of these "Sacred Duty" books?  Is the NRSC splitting profits with Cotton?

I would note that although political resources are being used to sell Cotton's book, Sacred Duty, the book is applauded for keeping politics out of the book.  Apparently politics though is not being kept out of the selling of those books.

It could well be legal.  But being an attorney and somewhat knowledgeable about the restrictions on campaign expenditures, the arrangement raises major red flags.