Do Sharp Elbows Spike Poll Numbers? -- Sunday Political Brunch July 29, 2018


CHARLESTON, W. Va – Last week was a bad one for President Trump, or was it? He faced a barrage of criticism in both parties and in the media for “going soft” on Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue of interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Trump got pummeled. So, what happened? His poll numbers went up. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“A Trump Bump?” – A new poll out from American Barometer this week showed President Trump’s approval rating at 48 percent. No, it’s not a majority of the public, but it’s about as high as he’s ever been. Even though he was widely lambasted for his summit with Russian President Putin, a lot of people still believe Trump is doing a good job, especially regarding the economy.

“On the Other Hand” – Another poll from NBC has more troubling news for Republicans because it zeroes in on specific key states – Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Even though Trump won Wisconsin and Michigan in 2016 – his main keys to the White House along with Pennsylvania – he now finds himself struggling. Trump’s approval ratings are 36 percent in Wisconsin and Michigan; and 38 percent in Minnesota (which he narrowly lost in 2016). My point is that all three states have marginal House and Senate races that could trend Democratic in 2018, as the parties fight for control of the House and Senate. Keep an eye on these three!

“Speaker has Spoken” – One of the House races in the above states is the seat currently held by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin. The first district race in the Badger State (my home) is competitive. If Paul Ryan walked away from a safe seat, only to see it go blue, it could be a bad election night trend for Republicans. It might not bode well for his future presidential ambitions either.

“A Speaker Squeaker” – The race to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker, is really heating up. Rep. Jim Jordan, (R) Ohio, an arch-conservative supporter of President Trump has announced his intention to run for Speaker, likely against the more moderate House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, (R) California. Jordan is co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, a group of 30-plus hard-core, right-leaning lawmakers who first drove then-Speaker Rep. John Boehner from office. Can Jordan beat McCarthy? Well he’ll need a lot more than 30 votes, but this could be divisive in the GOP caucus and among non-incumbent Republicans running for the House. Which horse do you bet on?

“On the Other Hand – Part 2” – Republicans may be in disarray over who would be their next leader, but they are not alone. Many current Democratic House members – and hopeful candidates – are not for supporting former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) California, in her hopes to return to the top office. Upwards of 40 House candidates say they can’t endorse her.

“The Politics of Distraction” – Here we go again. As Stormy Daniels fades away, now there are allegations that Trump and his then-attorney Michael Cohen were arranging a pay-off for Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal who says she had an affair with then businessman Trump. My gut tells me this is not a successful road to travel. While there was wide public disdain for President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs, there was little stomach to remove him from office because of it. I suspect the same for Trump.

“A House Divided” – Another drama playing out in Washington, DC this week is an effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation of the alleged Trump-Russia political connection. Several House Republicans want to impeach Rosenstein, but House Speaker Paul Ryan is opposed. That probably means no dice. It’s an odd idea anyway. Impeachment is normally reserved for the top jobs: President, Cabinet Secretary or Federal Judge. Rosenstein is the number-two guy in his agency, not usually a top-tier candidate to be removed from office.

“On the Other Hand – Part 3” – Speaking of impeachment, we are going through that process in West Virginia right now. The five State Supreme Court Justices are facing potential impeachment. One in particular – suspended and indicted Justice Allen Loughry – authorized the purchase of a $32,000 blue-suede couch for his office - according to fired Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury who said he confronted the Chief Justice about the bill: "This couch is 32-thousand dollars, do you want me to go through with this? I remember specifically and now in hindsight, it seems to be prophetic. But he said 'yes' and essentially said, 'If it ever becomes public I'll just blame it on you. You're the administrator.'" If true, wow! House Speaker Pro-Tem John Overington noted that Big Lots has a three-piece couch set for a mere $400.

Summer days are long, nights are short! We’re keeping the blog short this week. If you have opinions, click the comment button at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar TV stations serving West Virginia and the surrounding states.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options