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Trump’s Polling Numbers Since the Helsinki Debacle Have Something For Everyone

It has now been ten days since President Trump stood on the same Helsinki stage as Vladimir Putin, refused to condemn him, threw our own intelligence agencies under the bus, and then blatantly lied about what he meant to say in a pathetic attempt to spin his way out of his self-made debacle.

For any other Republican president, such a poor performance, especially under the stunning specter of being utterly beholden to Russia, would have easily threatened to bring him down. With Trump, though, we knew from the moment it happened there was very little chance that these events would have that sort of immpact.

Since that unforgettable day, there have been six major national polls so far in the aftermath. As someone who once briefly worked as a polling analyst for Quinnipiac University, I have always believed that we in the media are far too impatient when it comes waiting for enough polling data to determine what, if any, impact a news event has created.

Only now, in my opinion, can we come to some potentially valid conclusions. In short, there is literally something for everyone in the numbers which, while largely static, are still quite interesting and potentially important.

Trump’s approval ratings for these six post-Helsinki polls average out to just over 42% approval and just under 54% disapproval. (The fact that only 4% on the nation fits in neither category is rather amazing). Quinnipiac, which often produces the worst numbers for Trump, has him “underwater” by 20 points, while Rasmussen, which almost always gives him his best polling, has Trump at minus seven.

Before Helsinki, Trump’s poll numbers had been on a fairly steady increase since their low point at the very end of 2017, just before he signed the tax cuts got into law. These numbers do indicate a small, but discernible slippage for Trump, especially considering the direction in which he has been trending. Basically, it appears his disapproval went up by a little over a point and his approval dipped by about half of that.

Based on traditional analysis, these numbers are obviously an indication that Helsinki didn’t have much effect at all, and could be easily be dismissed as mere statistical “noise.” And while there is definitely some truth in that, there is also validity in the concept that in the Trump era, we are now so incredibly entrenched along partisan lines (thus only 4% having no real opinion) that any discernible movement in the numbers has at least some meaning, especially following a media deluge.

When delving into the internal numbers, the Quinnipiac poll (which, it should be pointed out, may have had a survey pool that was significantly more anti-Trump than the others) was by far the most fascinating. Check out some of these mind-blowing results:

  • Voters believe by a 51-35 spread “that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump.” Republicans, by a 70-18 margin, don’t believe there is compromising information, which means that almost every non Republican things that our president might be compromised by a foreign adversary!
  • Only 41% of voters say Trump was acting in “the best interest of the United States” in Helsinki. 54 % say he was NOT.
  • 68% of voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about President Trump’s relationship with Russia, while only 32% are “not so concerned” or “not concerned at all.”
  • Voters say by a 48-39 margin that Trump himself did not “collude with Russia” during the campaign. But 46% say that the Trump campaign did colluded with the Russians, with 44% saying it did not.
  • By a rather large 55-31 spread, voters think Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into possible collusion. 54% of voters say the investigation is “legitimate,” while 40 percent say it is a “witch hunt.”

The logical takeaways from all of this are the following:

  • Trump’s cult-like base, as expected, was totally unmoved by what happened in Helsinki.
  • The mainstream news media has completely lost, partially due to their own actions, any ability to influence Trump supporters. Trump’s war on “Fake News!” has achieved its desired/nefarious end.
  • There is evidence that opposition to Trump has now hardened to the point where, barring a massive national crisis, it is very difficult to see him ever getting significantly under 50% disapproval for the rest of his first term.
  • If Quinnipiac’s numbers are close to accurate, there are probably just enough people who are open-minded about the Mueller investigation that, should he make a convincing case of serious wrong-doing, Democrats would be able to impeach the president if they take back the House of Representatives in November. Removal from office however, appears to still be a real long shot no matter what Mueller may come up with.

That’s polling in the time of Trump.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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