The coverage of Trump has had a catastrophic tone since the election, shared by some of his critics on the right. In the NBC poll at the end of last week, according to First Read at NBC News, I was struck by this breakdown of where the parties stand on the question of “which party would do a better job”:
Dealing with health care: Democrats 43 percent, Republicans 26 percent (D+17)
Looking out for the middle class: Democrats 42 percent, Republicans 29 percent (D+13)
Dealing with immigration: Democrats 38 percent, Republicans 32 percent (D+6)
Dealing with transit, roads, and highways: Democrats 24 percent, Republicans 22 percent (D+2)
Dealing with foreign policy: Democrats 34 percent, Republicans 33 percent (D+1)
Dealing with taxes: Democrats 29 percent, Republicans 33 percent (R+4)
Dealing with the economy: Democrats 29 percent, Republicans 36 percent, (R+7)
Changing how things work in Washington: Democrats 18 percent, Republicans 27 percent (R+9)
Dealing with ISIS: Democrats 17 percent, Republicans 35 percent (R+18)
There is softness here to be sure. You’d hope Trump would be doing better on the middle class, and the tie on foreign policy is a poor showing for the GOP. But this isn’t exactly the picture of a party in a state of collapse.
As for Trump’s approval rating, it’s at 40 in the NBC poll. We always hear that that number is a historic low for a president at this point. True, but no president has ever been elected despite his unpopularity the way Trump was last November. If the next presidential election were held tomorrow, Trump would start about where he was last year at 46 percent, with a fighting chance at reelection.
Finally, there’s the state of the 2018 midterms. Democrats are up 8 on the generic ballot. This is good for them, but not great. As First Read notes:
When Democrats have scored big midterm wins, their advantage in congressional preference has been in the double digits. What’s more, Republicans on this measure enjoy a 52 percent–41 percent lead in GOP-held districts vs. Democrats’ 62 percent–28 percent lead in Dem districts, which helps explain what happened in GA-6 on Tuesday. Democrats may very well have the political winds at their backs, but those gusts haven’t blown into Republican areas — at least not yet.
In short, Trump has hurt himself in all sorts of unnecessary ways and is in middling shape, but, as usual, the catastrophic tone is unwarranted.