The news articles on all the putative political fallout president Trump is putatively receiving for revealing how utterly inconsequential the federal government is to the well being of middle America are pulling fast ones on their readers. Here’s an example from my favorite polling outfit, Reuters-Ipsos:
Forty-seven percent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the Dec. 21-25 poll, conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans.
Yikes, that’s a 14-point gap in blame for Trump relative to Pelosi and co. The figures are virtually identical today as they were when that poll was commissioned a couple of weeks ago. Not good.
But wait. Adults? Who cares? Nearly half of all US adults don’t even vote in presidential elections. If election polling in 2016 had been of “adults” instead of “likely voters” or even “registered voters”, Hillary Clinton would’ve been up by double-digits on election day. Those who are the least politically engaged just–to the extent that they’re aware of them at all–echo the pop culture zeitgeist on political figures when asked about them. Those vague, apathetic sentiments have no electoral consequences.
When we just look at those who actually vote, things look considerably better for Trump. While a similar 47% of respondents who actually vote assign blame to Trump, 41% of respondents who do blame Democrats in Congress. A six point spread in the age of the imperial presidency is perfectly manageable, and Trump is managing it well. We will really see if he’s found his spine tomorrow.