First things first: The theme song of the week is The Tonight Show theme song by Rickey Minor.
Poll of the week: An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that only 37% of Americans approve of the job President Donald Trump is doing. A significantly higher 58% disapprove. This makes for a net approval rating of -21 points.
The previous ABC/Washington Post poll put Trump’s net approval rating at -13 points, so his net approval rating fell by 8 points.
What’s the point: Make no mistake: Trump lost the shutdown fight. The ABC News/Washington Post poll is merely the latest to show that Trump’s approval rating was plummeting. In average of all recent polls, Trump’s net approval rating had dropped 6 points compared to before the shutdown.
Moreover, it was clear that the longer the shutdown, the worse it was getting for Trump. Just two weeks ago (i.e. halfway into the shutdown), Trump’s net approval rating had declined only 3 points. In other words, half the drop occurred in the last two weeks.
Trump’s decline occurred during a time when Americans clearly blamed Trump and the Republicans for the shutdown. The ABC News/Washington Post, for instance, found that 53% thought Trump and the Republicans in Congress were to blame compared to 34% for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress. Other polls, depending on their wording, found a similar 20-point margin advantage for congressional Democrats vs. Trump and congressional Republicans on the shutdown.
Indeed, at the same time Trump’s approval rating was declining, Pelosi’s ratings were actually increasing. In an average of the five most recent polls taken, Pelosi’s net favorability rose 3 points compared to where she was before the shutdown began. The average poll now consistently has Pelosi more popular than Trump.
Trump’s biggest problem was the he was not able to make the case for the need for a border wall along the US-Mexico border. Americans still are overwhelmingly against the wall. In fact, CNN and Quinnipiac University showed no difference between wall support just before and after the shutdown. Before the shutdown, Americans were against the wall by a 15-point margin. Today, these pollsters put the margin at the same 15 points.
Meanwhile, Democrats were making gains on issues regarding immigration that historically have been good for Republicans. When Americans are typically asked about which party they trust more on “illegal immigration”, they usually say Republicans. The ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that Pelosi and Congressional Democrats were favored on illegal immigration by a 5-point margin over Trump and congressional Republicans.
Trump also lost ground when it came to border security (i.e. the way Trump wanted to frame the shutdown fight). Trump held a 10-point edge over congressional Democrats when voters were asked before the shutdown who they trusted more on border security. A Quinnipiac poll taken after the shutdown had congressional Democrats with a 5-point edge over Trump on border security. The ABC News/Washington Post poll asked a similar question and had congressional Democrats and Pelosi with a 2-point advantage. Both polls are double-digit gains for Democrats.
But perhaps the ultimate diss to Trump is what Fox News polling discovered. Voters think that Pelosi is better than Trump at “Washington gamesmanship” by 6 points, according to the latest Fox News poll. That has to hurt for Trump who is said to “relish” the gamesmanship with congressional Democrats.
Put another way, the shutdown turned Trump’s strengths into weaknesses.