To all the #NeverTrump Republicans hoping to dump the Donald in 2020, an update:
You’re not going to do it in New Hampshire.
In the past, the Granite State’s “First In The Nation” primary has proved troublesome for incumbent presidents. Some have performed so poorly they either dropped out of the race (LBJ) or went on to lose the general election (George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter). But a new poll from Suffolk University’s Political Research Center finds that, for the moment, President Trump has nothing to worry about.
If the New Hampshire primary were held today, Trump would trounce the field. He beats Ohio governor and “No Labels” heartthrob John Kasich 68-23 percent, and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake by an eye-popping 72-15 percent.
(Both Kasich and Flake have made recent high-profile appearances in New Hampshire, by the way.)
My mischievous pal David Paleologos, Suffolk’s polling director, also threw in the name of soon-to-be-Utah-Senator Mitt Romney. Once again, it’s not even close: Trump wins, 63-28 percent.
This is welcome news at the White House. In another New Hampshire poll just two months ago, President Trump couldn’t break 50 percent against these same candidates. He had a narrow 48-42 percent lead over Gov. Kasich and 49-33 over Sen. Flake, which was hardly impressive.
Now he’s crushing them by 50 points. Why this shift from “a horse race” to “Bambi vs. Godzilla?” To quote a favorite pollster cliché, his base has come home. And not just in New Hampshire.
Six months ago in the Gallup weekly tracking poll, President Trump’s approval was under water by 25 points: 35-60 percent. Last week, he hit an 11-month high. And it’s almost entirely thanks to the GOP.
As the data experts at FiveThirtyEight.com and others have noted, most presidents maintain overwhelming support from their own parties. Neither George W. Bush nor Obama’s approval rating ever fell below 85 percent among the party faithful during their first year in office.
The same was not true for Trump. As recently as December, his approval among Republican voters was down in the 70s. But in the newest Gallup tracking poll, that support is up to 89 percent. (Among Democrats? Nine.)
Which raises a question for the John Kasichs and Bill Kristols of the nation: Exactly who are you “saving” the GOP from?
Republican voters have had two years of watching Trump as a candidate and president and husband and Twitterer and embarrassing, tantrum-throwing child and—to their credit or shame—they’ve decided to stick with him. It truly isTrump’s party, and every other Republican is just renting space.
So unless Robert Mueller drags him out of the Oval Office by his artificially-golden locks, Trump will be on top of the ticket in 2020.
And if he heads into that election with an energized GOP base, he has a chance to win it, too.
According to the latest Real Clear Politics polling average, Trump’s job approval has inched up to 43.5 percent. Add in the 3 percent or so and suddenly you’re back around the 46 percent support Trump had when he beat Hillary Clinton.
Being above 50 percent would be better (obviously) but that’s just not going to happen with this president. Trump needs a re-play of 2016.
And what are the Democrats giving him? Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Oh, and Nancy Pelosi just promised “I’m not going anywhere,” while Congressional Democrats are debating what they want to do first once they take back the House: Impeach Donald Trump, or pass new gun control laws?
By every historic measure, President Trump should be the Walking Dead of American politics. But put him up against a Democratic campaign of “Pelosi, Pocahontas and Impeachment!” and he may walk right back into the White House.