The Democratic Party has a lot riding on the 2018 midterm elections — and the early polling for President Donald Trump should provide its leaders with hope.
In the last four midterm elections that ended with the party that controls the White House losing one or both houses of Congress, the president had an approval rating below 85 percent among members of his own party and approval ratings among independents that were no higher than in the low 40s percentage range, according to The Cook Political Report. It then pointed out that, according to a recent Gallup survey, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is at 85 percent, but he is has a treacherous 33 percent rating among independents.
“If he drops a few points among GOPers, Trump’s ratings today would look exactly like those of President George W. Bush right before his party was routed in 2006,” Cook wrote.
Democrats seem to be more galvanized in their dislike of Trump than Republicans are in supporting him, with 81 percent of Democrats “strongly disapproving” of the president’s performance and only 54 percent of Republicans “strongly approving” of it Cook stated, citing a SurveyMonkey survey. Forty-five percent of independents strongly disapprove of Trump, compared with 18 percent who strongly approve.
As Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight explained in February, however, Trump’s low approval ratings do not necessarily doom Republican legislators’ chances: Democrats will still have to nominate strong candidates in key House races, they will still be at a disadvantage due to gerrymandering, and there’s often a wide gulf between the public perception of a president and how that affects local congressional races. As Enten wrote, “Trump’s low approval rating is good news for Democrats. But they’ll have to work to capitalize on the national environment, or they might fall victim to the same structural forces that hurt [Hillary] Clinton and fail to take advantage of Trump’s unpopularity.”