Tuesday, December 20, 2016

“Tell the Truth”

“Tell the Truth” was the chant at Donald Trump’s October rallies as spirited and sometimes hostile crowds shouted at the press pool. He often encouraged it with his own brand of attacks on the media – “they are terrible liars…” These statements usually corresponded to some current criticism of his politically incorrect statements or behavior, but were often just expressions of general resentment.

The aspect of the media in 2016 that was ubiquitous and profoundly influential (and ultimately misleading) was the polls. Trump, in fact, lived by the polls during the 2015 fall and winter run-up to the primaries as they made up for his glaring lack of policy knowledge and experience, his frequent falsehoods and highly charged politically incorrect statements.

Now that the president-elect has had six weeks to operate, the polls are back and they will continue to influence the perception of his presidency and tee-up his first tough political test – the 2018 midterm election, which can often be a political disaster for a new president as experienced by Ronald Reagan in 1982, Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.
The level of presidential approval has been an important metric in predicting midterm losses, but Trump may be renorming the question. He won the election with a historically low favorability rating, and it will be surprising if in the currently divided climate and considering his conservative cabinet picks if there is the usual honeymoon.

President Obama started in the upper 60 percent range after Inauguration Day in 2009. It is hard to imagine Trump getting the same early boost.

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