One thing that has come out of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings is that Democrats and liberals remain befuddled as to why Republicans stick up for Trump. The answer is simple: Most of the Republicans in Congress have pro-Trump majorities in their state or district. If they were to oppose Trump, they would quickly have an opponent in the next Republican primary.
When one’s party holds the presidency, it is tough enough holding on to legislative and congressional seats plus governorships. (Remember, Democrats lost more than 1,030 such seats during the Obama presidency.) No need making things tougher on oneself with intraparty strife.
Democrats argue that Trump is way behind in the polls. While it is true that Trump’s approval rating has held steady at approximately 55 percent disapproving of his conduct in office and only 40 percent approving, those numbers are based on national polling. A presidential election is actually 50 state elections plus the vote in the District of Columbia. The Electoral College aggregates the results of each such election in order to choose the winner.
The reality is that the president is doing really well in some states, and terrible in others. Polling has come under criticism since 2016, Almost everyone thought Hillary Clinton was going to win based on the polls. Realclearpolitics.com keeps track of most of the national polls, and found that collectively the final polls predicted Clinton winning by 3.3 percent. She actually won by 2.1 percent of the popular vote, but those votes were highly concentrated in urban areas, particularly on the East and West coasts. That small difference was all it took for Trump to win states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Rasmussen Reports is normally thought of as a conservative polling organization in that it consistently produces polls that show more popularity for GOP candidates than other polling organizations do. As it was, however, Rasmussen came the closest to the actual national results, predicting Clinton would win the popular vote by 2 percent. Other polling organizations had her winning by up to 6 percent.
Recently, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political newsletter originating out of the University of Virginia, published an article comparing the popularity of the 50 state governors to that of President Trump – in each state. Using polling by Morning Consult, it gives us a better picture of what is happening in the individual states. The poll results were measured through the end of the third quarter.
Surprisingly, given the negativity in Washington, Morning Consult found that residents in 44 states gave positive approval ratings to their own governor. The 12 most popular governors in the nation are all Republicans, led by Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, ironically a state more anti-Trump than all except Vermont.
Meanwhile, Morning Consult found that Trump had a positive approval rating in only 19 states. Those 19 states have only 166 electoral votes. It takes 268 to win.
In seven states – Florida, Utah, Montana, Arizona, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio – Trump is underwater by 5 percent or less. Given polling biases, he may still win all seven, giving him 87 more electoral votes, bringing his total to 253.
To go over the top, Trump also needs Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. However, Trump has an approval rating of minus-8 there.
Of course, approval ratings compare the incumbent to nobody. Once the Democrats put a face to their nominee, the equation will be different. If the Democrats go too far out on the socialist limb with, say, Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, they may give Trump enough room to saw it off. In Wisconsin, for example, 11 percent more residents disapprove of the president’s job performance than approve. However, a Marquette University poll of Wisconsin residents last week found Trump would beat former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren, Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Only New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is leading Trump, and that only by 1 percent. In Minnesota, Trump is also underwater by 11 percent, so the results here are probably similar unless he were running against the home-state Klobuchar.
Biden is leading the national Democratic primary polling, but more than two-thirds of Democrats would prefer someone else. If Trump were to be acquitted of all impeachment charges – a likely possibility – Biden’s son’s acceptance of a $50,000 per month seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company would negate corruption charges against Trump.
Trump completing his term is likely because, again, Trump has positive approval ratings in 19 states, which have 36 Republican senators and only two Democrats. He only needs 34 to complete his term. Further, those seven states where he is 5 percent or less underwater have 11 Republicans and three Democrats, and only three of those Republican senators are facing voters next year. Of the remaining six GOP senators, three face voters next year: Colorado’s Cory Gardner, Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Maine’s Susan Collins, where Trump’s negative margins are respectively, 15%, 14% and 13%. Even if all three are joined by Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, an outspoken Trump critic, to oust him, Trump would still have enough votes to claim impeachment was just partisanship run amok, plus eliminate the Democrats best argument for ousting that trio.
Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at email@example.com.