Opinion

Trump poll numbers reflect ignorance of supporters’ priorities

Donald Trump's presidency has fallen into a precarious retreat precisely because he has been ignoring two iron rules of presidential success.

The first rule is that presidents place their re-elections in peril when they govern based upon why they wanted voters support, rather than why voters actually elected them in the first place. The second rule is Richard Neustadt's admonition from his classic treatise, "Presidential power is the power to persuade."

Gallup's daily tracking poll at the end of March showed Trump's job approval cratering to 35 percent as did a recent Quinnipiac poll. That decline is significant, because no president has been able to win re-election (Jimmy Carter's low was 28 percent and George H.W. Bush 29 percent) or have their party win the next presidential election (in their second term's Harry Truman's low was 22 percent, Nixon at 24 percent and George W. Bush 25 percent), after their Gallup job approval rating dipped below 35 percent.

Consequently, will Trump rebound or continue to decline in the polls becomes a seminal question? President Trump's decisive air strike in Syria, in response to the Assad regime's slaughter of innocents via chemical weapons, could boost his standing in the short-term, but the acid test remains persuading the American people and the world that there is an enduring strategy behind the air strike in Syria.

RELATED: How much will the city lose in Trump's budget?

The Trump administration's sequencing of their governing initiatives has been startlingly inept. Any analysis overlaying exit polling with actual voting returns, leads straight to the conclusion that voters wanted Trump to have a laser-like focus on the economy, while keeping the homeland safe from terrorism and bringing security to an unstable world.

But instead of rolling out a domestic agenda on jobs and economic growth, the Trump administration inexplicably placed infrastructure on the back burner. Moreover, Trump has gone down rabbit hole after rabbit hole: the administration pursued a divisive refugee ban so far barred by the courts, embraced a health care bill that could not pass the House, generated needless provocations with allies (Australia, Germany and Great Britain), while getting ever more entangled in an investigation of campaign collusion with Russia, not to mention several self-inflicted wounds undermining the President's credibility. Is it any wonder that Trump's public support sounds like air escaping a blown tire?

The Trump administration wanted public support for his priorities of building a wall, a refugee ban and the quick repeal and replacement of the ACA. Meanwhile polls show that public support was not behind any of these policy thrusts.

The Trump administration wanted public support for his priorities of building a wall, a refugee ban and the quick repeal and replacement of the ACA. Meanwhile polls show that public support was not behind any of these policy thrusts. A Quinnipiac poll showed only 17 percent supported the Trump-Ryan health care bill and by 80 to 14 percent opposed the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which was included in that bill.

From the first stirrings of the transition, through the debacle on health care, Trump has not sought to expand his public support beyond his base. The result has been a steady decline in the president’s public prestige.

Poll ratings are just a tool, not an end in itself, because as Neustadt wrote, "The essence of a President's persuasive task, with congressmen and everybody else, is to induce them to believe that what he wants of them is what their own appraisal of their own responsibilities requires them to do in their interest, not his."

RELATED: Threat of federal cuts dominates city budget talks

Trump's declining poll ratings tied to his repeated tactical mistakes have not led Republican members of Congress to fear his wrath, instead it has left his congressional allies wary of walking the plank for him, while emboldening Democrats to believe that opposing Trump's initiatives reflects sound policy and smart politics.

Neustadt may have been a professor, but his advice carried the sagacity of a grizzled political professional, "The Presidency is no place for amateurs."

Neustadt also observed, "The greatest danger to a President's potential influence . . . is not the show of incapacity he makes today, but its apparent kinship to what happened yesterday, last month, last year. For if his failures seem to form a pattern, the consequence is bound to be a loss of faith in his effectiveness next time. The boy who cried wolf came to a sad end because nobody paid attention to his final cry."

Ironically, Republicans are more nervous than Democrats, silently praying that Trump will internalize Neustadt's wisdom connecting these two iron rules of presidential politics: persuasively making progress on the public's priorities. To date, those prayers have gone unanswered.

Bruce N. Gyory is a political and strategic consultant at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.