Donald Trump has managed to accomplish something no other modern U.S. president has ever done, which is to receive a 35 percent approval rating in December of his first year in office, CNN reports. This historic low leaves Republicans wondering whether they should side with the controversial president or distance themselves from him.
If the GOP wants some help with their decision, they need only look to the most recent elections in Virginia and Alabama, where Trump-backed candidates such as Ed Gillespie, Luther Strange, and Roy Moore experienced devastating losses. For Gillespie, it came in the form of an unexpected 9-point loss in the Virginia Gubernatorial race. The loses of Strange and Moore, however, paved the way for a Democrat to take control of an Alabama Senate seat; something that hasn’t happened in 25 years. Given these examples, some Republicans are understandably rattled.
According to Politico, President Trump has been aware of midterm election anxiety since before the Alabama Senate race. The Trump-appointed RNC leader, Ronna Romney McDaniel, warned about the possible negative consequences of President Trump supporting the now-defeated Roy Moore, given the candidate’s unpopularity and allegations of sexual misconduct. The President, of course, did not heed these warnings and stepped up his public support of Moore at a Pensacola rally right before the election.
Senior Congress members are also voicing uncertainty for 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan is concerned that senior Republican lawmakers will opt for an early retirement rather than risk losing in a contentious midterm election. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mentioned in a private meeting that he believes both chambers could be lost in the 2018 midterm elections.
Recent polls also favor Democratic candidates. A December CNN poll conducted by SSRS reveals that 56 percent of registered voters prefer a Democratic Congressional candidate, while only 38 percent would prefer a Republican candidate. This is in line with an earlier August poll, in which it was shown that most voters would prefer to choose an unnamed Democrat against an unnamed Republican candidate. While the Republican base remains strong, the party has little favor with groups such as women, the college-educated, minorities, and voters in suburban areas.
One glimmer of hope for Republicans will be their Tax Reform Bill, which President Trump just signed into law today before going on his Christmas break. While some were speculating that Donald Trump would wait until next year to sign the bill to delay its effects, it now looks like the Republican Party will end its first year with the signing of their first major legislation. While tax cuts will definitely be a selling point to many constituents, GOP critics will be quick to point out that the newly passed bill provides a great benefit to corporations and attacks Obamacare. Since reactions to the GOP tax bill will surely affect both Congressional polls and the President’s own approval rating, it’s safe to say that Democrats don’t have a victory in 2018 just yet.