By Kent R. Kroeger (Source: NuQum.com, July 17, 2017)
The TV at the bar is tuned to CNN whose scroll is announcing that President Trump has hit a new approval rating low.
The people around the bar with me start launching anti-Trump quips.
“He can’t do the job,” the waitress says. “I could do it as well as he can.”
The same news scroll continues with other findings from the newest Bloomberg Poll. Health care is considered the most important problem by 35 percent of U.S. adults.
That’s good news for the Democrats, I say to myself. My blogsite, NuQum.com, recently published an analysis of the 2016 American National Election Survey showing that health care is one of the few issues where the Democrats have a strategic advantage over the Republicans (…the other Democrat-favorable issues are climate change and government spending on social programs such as Social Security).
The scroll continues…
Besides health care, unemployment (13%), terrorism (11%) and immigration (10%) also remain high on people’s list of concerns, while U.S.-Russian relations is mentioned by only 6 percent of respondents.
That is bad news for the Democrats. Eight months of 24-7 Trump-Russia coverage and very few people seem to care. Are people burned out from the whole thing?
“I don’t care about the Russia-Donald Trump junior thing,” says Sam, a 29-year-old landscaping contractor from Ewing, New Jersey, who calls himself politically independent but admits he almost always votes Democrat. “Its not good if Trump was getting help from Putin to beat Clinton, but that stuff happens in politics.”
“He’s a con artist,” says Cathy, a 32-year-old waitress and a ‘proud feminist and Democrat.’ “But the election is over. We need to worry about what he’s going to do to health care, not whether or not his son and son-in-law got cozy with the Russians.”
Health care really seems to get people talking, in a way other political issues don’t, except for perhaps war and terrorism.
“I didn’t vote for the guy,” says Ben, a 45-year-old real estate broker – the only registered Republican in my impromptu focus group around the bar at Houlihan’s in Lawrence Township, New Jersey. “But I’m sick of all the negative stuff coming from both parties. I just think our politics is broken and the media feeds off it. I don’t watch the news anymore.”
While there is no evidence (yet) that the cable news networks are seeing a ratings drop, the one constant from the Houlihan’s lunchtime patrons is that ‘Russia’ is a more of a distraction than a major concern to people.
Tim, a retired municipal worker and Marine Corps veteran, may fit some pundits’ perceptions of the classic ‘angry white male’ that put Trump in office. He did, admittedly, vote for Trump largely due to his stands on immigration and terrorism and admits he is ‘pissed off’ at the politicians in Washington, D.C. and Trenton. But he insists he’s not angry.
“He (Trump) says things that typical politicians are scared to say,” says Tim. “Radical Islamic terrorists would love to take away our freedoms and you can’t fight terrorists with nice words and hope.”
Tim voted for Obama twice.
What should worry the Democrats, however, is what Tim says about the next presidential election.
“I think Trump has brought in millionaires and billionaires that don’t know what they’re doing. He may be the worst president ever,” says Tim as he starts his second beer of the afternoon. “But you know what? If I had to choose between Trump and Clinton today, I’d vote for Trump again.”
Tim’s declaration attracts a mix of approving nods and rude rebuttals from the other Houlihan’s patrons.
Donald Trump may be the first truly ‘teflon’ politician — a term typically associated with Ronald Reagan, who weathered years of media attacks and still remained popular among the majority of Americans. In Trump’s case, the term may be even more appropriate. I am talking to people that don’t like him, that think he’s unprepared and unqualified to be president, and are still open to voting for this guy in 2020. That, to my way of thinking, is a ‘teflon’ candidate.
“What if it were Obama versus Trump?” I ask.
“Obama. No question,” Tim replies.
“I’d vote for the good-looking Obama daughter,” yells someone from one of the booths lining the bar.
“Malia versus Ivanka,” someone else chimes in from another corner of the bar. “That’s the election I want to see.”
Sasha Obama is very good-looking young woman as well, but that point is not going to penetrate this crowd at this moment.
“Kid Rock versus The Rock! That would be awesome.”
No, it really wouldn’t.
The informal focus group deteriorates into a bad open-mike night and I ask the bartender for my check.
“Trump versus Wonder Woman,” a waitress says quietly as she walks by.
Yeah, I’d like to see that one. Trump says something rude to her during a debate about ‘jiggly thighs’ and she promptly gives him a vicious leg swipe. Now THAT would be awesome.
I pay my bill and leave the restaurant.
As I drive back to the home office, I wonder, is the lunchtime crowd at an over-priced chain restaurant representative of voting Americans? I suspect not…but, I’m just as certain these opinions are not uncommon either.
Not here in a Democrat-dominated, western New Jersey suburb.
Trump’s polling numbers look grim, but we are more than a year removed from the 2018 midterm elections. More than enough time for the Democrats to screw up. More than enough time to make the 2018 election just as inhospitable to their candidates as the last couple of national elections.
Diana Prince. If you are reading this, please give Tom Perez at the Democratic National Committee a call at your earliest convenience.
About the author: Kent Kroeger is a writer and statistical consultant with over 30 -years experience measuring and analyzing public opinion for public and private sector clients. He also spent ten years working for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He holds a B.S. degree in Journalism/Political Science from The University of Iowa, and an M.A. in Quantitative Methods from Columbia University (New York, NY). He lives in Ewing, New Jersey with his wife and son.