Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro

Heading into the 2020 presidential election year, President Trump’s political prospects don’t look so good.

Real Clear Politics, the political campaign website that charts all of the presidential election polls and reports their average each month, had bad news for the president to close out 2019.

When voters were asked if the country was moving in the “right direction” under Trump, or was on the “wrong track,” 55.8 percent said “wrong track,” compared to only 37 percent who replied “right direction.”

But just days before, on Dec. 18, the venerable, widely read Gallup Poll had reported a brighter picture for the president:

“Trump approval inches up, while support for impeachment dips,” the polling organization said in a news release. Among the poll’s findings:

  • 45 percent approval of Trump’s job performance — his third consecutive increase.
  • Support for impeachment still contentious, but dips to 46 percent.

“Approval of the president’s performance remains high among Republicans (89 percent) and low among Democrats (8 percent),” the firm stated. “Less than half of political independents approve, but the current 42 percent is up from 34 percent at the start of the impeachment hearings and matches their highest rating of Trump so far.”

While voters remain divided on impeachment, Gallup said, those who support such action “has dipped slightly each time Gallup has polled on the matter since October.”

“Currently, 46 percent support impeachment and removal, down six percentage points from the first reading after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry,” Gallup said. “Meanwhile, 51 percent oppose impeachment and removal — up five percentage points over the same period.”

Democrats (85 percent), of course, “remain widely supportive of impeachment and removal, while a small percentage of Republicans, 5 percent, agree.”

However, “the movement in the national figure mostly reflects a small shift among political independents, a slight majority of whom supported impeachment and removal in two October polls (55 percent and 53 percent), but whose support has fallen below the 50 percent mark in the two polls since (45 percent in November and 48 percent in the latest poll).”

Another factor Gallup points to is the relatively high approval of Congress in the latest poll, driven largely by Democrats, 39 percent of whom currently approve of the job the institution is doing. This is the highest figure recorded for this group in nearly a decade — since the 41 percent in April 2010, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

Approval of Congress is also up among independents, “with today’s 29 percent the highest for this group since June 2009.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of Republicans approve of Congress — their lowest rating of the body since June 2016.

Charlie Cook, editor of the widely read Cook Political Report, offered some additional stats at the end of last month that shed further light on where we are politically as we head into the 2020 election year.

First and foremost, he tells us that Trump “routinely gets approval ratings among Republicans in the 85 to 90 percent range; in fact, many have far more allegiance to him, a relative newcomer to the GOP, than to the party itself.”

In fact, Cook said, “When registered voters who were either Republicans or GOP-leaning independents were asked in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll whether they were supporters more of Donald Trump or of the Republican Party, 48 percent said they were more aligned with Trump, while 40 percent said the Republican Party.”

What will the Republican Party look like after this November’s election?

Cook reminds us that the old Republican Party “was based in the suburbs, with a college-educated base. But “the heart of the GOP right now, as polls and actual election results attest, is moving to small towns and rural areas, toward working-class whites, those who feel they have been left behind,” he writes.

This year’s election could change GOP politics for many years to come.

Donald Lambro has been covering Washington politics for more than 50 years as a reporter, editor and commentator.