WASHINGTON — It’s almost fitting that, on the final day of President Trump’s first year in office, Washington is facing the real possibility of a partial government shutdown — especially given all of the stunning news events and chaos since Jan. 20, 2017. The “American Carnage” inaugural address. “Alternative facts.” The Comey firing. The Mueller probe. Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation. The legislative defeat on health care. The legislative victory on taxes. Charlottesville. The Alabama Senate race. “Shithole.” And now a likely shutdown.
But our new NBC/WSJ poll is a reminder that Trump’s first year in office didn’t have to be this way. Back in our Dec. 2016 poll, respondents were asked which word best described how they felt about the results of the election, and the top answers (allowing for multiple responses) were “hopeful” (32 percent), “disgusted” (25 percent), “scared” (23 percent), “excited” (12 percent) and “relieved” (11 percent).
But when we asked the same question about how Americans feel about Trump’s first year as president in our latest poll out this morning, here were the top responses: “disgusted” (38 percent), “scared” (24 percent), “hopeful” (23 percent), “proud” (12 percent) and “angry” (11 percent).
“At the time of his inauguration, ‘hopeful’ was the word most used word about the 2016 results,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “But at the end of his first year, ‘disgust’ was the word most cited about him.”
When asked in the poll which one or two accomplishments made them feel the most positive about Trump, 20 percent cited a strong economy and low unemployment; 13 percent said “putting America first”; 10 percent said the tax legislation that Trump signed into law late last year; and another 10 percent said the military successes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
As Hart puts it, Trump’s “positions on some issues play better than his personal character.” Indeed, our Sept. 2017 NBC/WSJ poll found that Trump’s MOST POPULAR action was his bipartisan deal with Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Here’s the state of play when it comes to the looming government shutdown, per NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell: “House Republicans overcame a major obstacle late Thursday when the most conservative wing of the conference announced its support for the short-term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. The measure passed the House on a mostly party line 230-197 vote. But the fate of the measure is uncertain in the Senate where at least six Republican senators have come out against the measure and Democrats are confident they can block it from advancing.”
Democrats will argue in this shutdown fight:
Republicans are in control of the government (White House, House, Senate);
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Trump and the GOP rejected the one bipartisan DACA compromise (Graham-Durbin) when a solution to DACA needs to happen ASAP to begin processing the paperwork;
Republicans have no plan other than to pass stopgap measure after stopgap measure;
And that Trump isn’t showing the leadership needed to forge a bipartisan compromise (given that he’s the only one who can convince House conservatives to allow a vote on a bipartisan immigration compromise).
Republicans will argue:
Democrats co-own the Senate, since 60 votes are required to pass legislation there;
Democrats are siding with undocumented immigrants over CHIP — since a long-term CHIP extension is the measure the House voted on yesterday;
DACA doesn’t need to resolved right now given Trump’s March 5, 2018 deadline;
And Democrats, after railing against governmental chaos during the 2013, are inviting chaos with their DACA demands.
Beyond the arguments, there are two big questions that could determine how this looming shutdown plays politically.
Which party has more bipartisan cover? Do a handful of GOP senators (including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.) side with Democrats in rejecting the House stopgap measure? If so, that will make it MUCH harder for Republicans to argue Democrats are shutting down the government. Conversely, do more red-state Dems (Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.) vote for the House CR?
How are the players conducting themselves? As the 1995-1996 shutdown proved, behavior (we’re looking at you, Newt Gingrich) can influence public opinion). So we ask again: Is Trump really going to Mar-A-Lago if the government shuts down?
Also, can the Trump White House actually MANAGE a shutdown? Here’s the Daily Beast: “Obama administration officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said they were shocked at the apparent lack of seriousness with which lawmakers, and the Trump White House, appeared to be approaching the potential funding lapse. When they went through a shutdown in 2013—and when they prepped for one in 2011—the contingency planning took weeks.”
“As of late Thursday afternoon, however, numerous federal agencies appeared to have not submitted updated plans to the Office of Management and Budget. Of the nearly 130 agencies and offices that submit contingency plans, 66 of them had not publicly updated their proposals since 2015.”
Going back to our new NBC/WSJ poll… President Donald Trump ends his first year in office with 39 percent of Americans approving of his job performance, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll – the lowest mark in the poll’s history for any modern president ending his first year.
Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Trump’s job, including a majority of respondents — 51 percent — who now say they strongly disapprove, which is a record high for Trump in the survey. That’s compared with 26 percent of Americans who strongly approve of the president’s job.
Among key demographic groups, 46 percent of men, 45 percent of whites and 41 percent of seniors give Trump a thumbs-up, versus 35 percent of those ages 18-34, 33 percent of women, 26 percent of Latinos and 8 percent of African Americans who do.
By party, 78 percent of Republicans approve of the president’s job, compared with 8 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of independents.
Trump’s overall approval rating of 39 percent in the NBC/WSJ poll is lower than George W. Bush’s (82 percent), Bill Clinton’s (60 percent) and Barack Obama (50 percent) at this same point in their presidencies.
Trump’s job rating in last month’s NBC/WSJ poll was 41 percent.
The rest of the NBC/WSJ poll — which was conducted Jan. 13-17 of 900 adults, and which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.3. percentage points — comes out later today.