On the shutdown, Trump gets one thing right: he is ‘getting crushed’

Updated

After watching some of the recent coverage of his government shutdown, Donald Trump reportedly told White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, “We are getting crushed!”

It may be the only thing the president has said about this fiasco that rings true.

A strong majority of Americans blame President Donald Trump for the record-long government shutdown and reject his primary rationale for a border wall, according to a new poll that shows the turmoil in Washington is dragging his approval rating to its lowest level in more than a year.

Overall, 34 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance in a survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. That’s down from 42 percent a month earlier and nears the lowest mark of his two-year presidency.

The results from the new AP poll are roughly in line with the latest national surveys from CBS News, the Pew Research Center, Gallup, CNN, and Marist, which found the president with an approval rating between 36% and 39%. The same polls found most Americans blaming Trump for the shutdown and opposing his demand for a taxpayer-financed border wall.

As the president’s third year gets underway – the second anniversary of his inauguration was this past Sunday – the FiveThirtyEight tally averaging all of the available data puts Trump’s support at around 39%.

At what point in Barack Obama’s presidency did his approval rating fall below the 40% threshold? Actually, that never happened.

Some observers will note that Ronald Reagan was roughly as unpopular as Trump as his third year got underway, and the Republican icon nevertheless recovered and won a second term. The difference is, Reagan’s support was weak in early 1983 because of poor economic conditions – the unemployment rate reached 10.8% in December 1982 – and as the economy improved, so too did his public standing.

Trump, in contrast, is below 40% support, despite an unemployment rate below 4%.

Common sense suggests a president would recognize the direction of the prevailing political winds, change course, and align himself more with the country’s political mainstream. This president, however, tends to believe independent pollsters are conspiring against him. Trump has also made clear that his principal concern is the attitudes of his far-right base, not Americans at large.

But the significance of the latest survey results should spark greater interest from congressional Republicans. They are, after all, following their party’s president – and he’s leading them off a political cliff.