TRUMP THE INCUMBENT
There’s another well-known, fist-shaking, former outsider still contending with the transition to incumbency. In 2016, Donald Trump won a sizable majority of the 18 percent of US voters who told pollsters they disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton. Even before he arrived in office, Republicans rode to tidal-wave victories in the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections in part by capturing 26- and 27-point margins respectively among voters unhappy with both parties.
Things have changed. An NBC/WSJ poll released this week found Democrats winning the “plague on both your houses” vote (13 percent of the total electorate) by 30 points. Of these voters, 68 percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance and 63 percent say they’re enthusiastic about November’s midterm elections.
The point is NOT that Trump is doomed. The Mueller investigation aside, it’s way too early for any reliable forecast of Trump’s re-election chances with more than two years to go. We have no idea whom Democrats will choose to take him on, and anyone who under-appreciates the deadly accuracy with which Trump can diminish/dismantle a rival, particularly a well-known political professional, has been asleep for the past two years.
But in a world of angry voters, it’s not easy for any outsider to remain popular once he/she has spent some time on the inside. Maybe Democrats will consider that lesson as they choose among more and less familiar faces for a presidential candidate.