The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Polling the Shutdown

Rich Galen

Thursday January 24, 2018

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  • Before you hit the SEND key with an email about how unreliable polls are, read on.

  • Two polls were released Wednesday morning which will give the staff at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue pause, even as they are ignored by its principal resident.

  • The first, a Politico/Morning Consult poll shows
    "Nearly 6-in-10 voters - 57 percent - disapprove of Trump's job performance, compared to the 40 percent that approve."

  • As to who owns the shutdown, the VP of Morning Consult, Tyler Sinclair wrote:
    "Nearly half of voters (49 percent) say the president is responsible - up 6 points since the shutdown began.

    "At the same time, 35 percent of voters blame congressional Democrats, up 4 points, while 4 percent of voters blame congressional Republicans, down 3 points."

  • That means Donald Trump is getting just about all the blame for the R side. For all the hand-wringing by Congressional Democrats, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's approach appears to be successful in protecting his troops, if not solving the impasse.

  • On the issue of The Wall itself:
    43 percent support the construction of a border wall

    49 percent oppose construction

    7 percent support dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown.

    72 percent oppose dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way.

  • The issue for House and Senate Republicans is this: According to the cross-tabs in this poll among Republican voters Trump's approval remains extremely high: 81 percent approve, only 16 percent disapprove.

  • Trump's approve/disapprove among Democrats is 7 - 92 and among Independents it is 23 - 61.

  • So, you can see why there is so little movement among Rs in the Congress: Anyone who breaks from Trump is likely to find themselves in a primary fight beginning the very next day.

  • The most Gather-Round-the-Keurig-Machine-worthy question in the poll was: "How likely do you think it is that Russia has compromising information on President Trump?"

  • 57 percent of respondents - including a quarter of Republicans - think that is very or somewhat likely.

  • Alas, there was no open-ended question asking: "If so, what do you think it is?"

  • The second poll, conducted by CBS News, has similar findings. According to that poll, Trump's approve/disapprove is 36/59.

  • The summary data show that, in spite of 71 percent saying The Wall "isn't worth a government shutdown," now that it is central to the discussion:
    "65 percent of Republicans say President Trump should refuse a budget unless it includes wall funding, and 69 percent of Democrats think congressional Democrats should keep refusing to fund it."

  • A last bit of data: Among Democrats, 69 percent approve of the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is handling her job. On the other side of the Rotunda, only 43 percent of Republicans approve of the way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is handling his role.

  • All in all, it appears that Donald Trump and the Republicans are paying a higher price for the shutdown staredown than Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.


  • A number of you have written to ask my opinion on the Buzzfeed story from last Friday that Donald Trump had told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

  • As you will remember, after most of a day of more-or-less demanding the the moving vans back up to the White House to collect Donald Trump's stuff, the Office of Special Counsel issued this statement:
    "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate"

  • Robert Mueller's shop is less likely to issue a statement than the CIA, so this very rare occurrence stopped the impeachment proceedings - or the calls for those proceedings - dead in their tracks.

  • I think the Mueller statement is too carefully written.

  • It is not a flat denial of the thrust of the Buzzfeed report - that Trump suborned perjury. Buzzfeed has continued to say it stands by its reporting and would like to know just what Mueller's shop found "inaccurate."

  • It seemed to me that the Special Counsel was making the point that the information did not leak from his shop - and Buzzfeed did not say it did; only that it came from "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter."

  • I'm betting the Buzzfeed story is largely correct, but I'm not betting the ranch.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to both the Politico and the CBS polls. There is an additional link to about 280 pages of backup data and crosstabs for the Politico poll. Also to the original Buzzfeed story and to CNN's coverage of the pushback from Mueller's office.

    The Mullfoto is a screengrab from the documentary about the ill-fated "Fyre Festival" now available on Netflix.

    -- END --

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