Low approval rating as shutdown wears on

Low approval rating as shutdown wears on

Donald Trump’s ebullience only seems to grow with every day of the shutdown, but the polls belie his confidence ahead of next year’s elections.

Mr Trump is determined to secure a second term as US President, and has been openly campaigning for re-election from the beginning of his tenure. Yet his approval rating sits at just 41.4 per cent of Americans, with 55 per cent disapproving of his performance in office, according to polling data aggregator RealClearPolitics.

Poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight found that his net approval rating was down from 42.3 per cent on December 21 to 40.8 per cent.

The record-breaking government shutdown, now on its 25th day, is not doing Mr Trump any favours. A Washington Post/ABC News poll on Sunday found 53 per cent of respondents said the President and Republicans were “mainly responsible” for the shutdown, while only 29 per cent blamed congressional Democrats.

In a CNN poll by SSRS, also released on Sunday, 55 per cent of adults said Mr Trump bore primary responsibility, while 32 per cent said Democrats did.

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The President excitedly tweeted on Tuesday that most Americans now agreed there was a crisis at the US-Mexico border. But the Quinnipiac University Poll he appeared to be referring to also found that most did not believe a wall was the solution — at 55 per cent against to 43 per cent in favour.

The US President was not helped by The New York Times’ weekend revelation that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into him regarding his relationship with Russia. That was followed by another embarrassing report from the Post that the President had tried to hide the details of his conversations with Vladimir Putin.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the FBI investigation within days, as part of his probe into alleged collusion with Russia by Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign team, and his upcoming report could be even more damaging for the US President.

The former reality star is fierce in his denial of the “witch hunt” Russia probe, and regularly shares positive feedback from Americans and evidence the economy and employment rates are still faring well.

But this good news may not last — and may not be enough to help him to another win. The Democrats have been lacking an obvious presidential candidate, but the field is growing, with a large number of women prepared to present a very different proposition to Mr Trump.

The polls, of course, have let the party down in the past, so they are working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

Democrats have launched numerous investigations into Mr Trump’s affairs since taking the majority in the House of Representatives this month.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel would now “take steps to better understand both the President’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behaviour” after the weekend’s reports.

The panel is also investigating the recent deaths of two immigrant children in US custody and whether Mr Trump’s alleged hush payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with him breached campaign finance laws.

Mr Nadler said the panel will wait for Mr Mueller’s investigation to conclude before considering any possible impeachment inquiry, although some Democrats are eager to make it happen.

The House Intelligence Committee is also running an investigation into ties between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The House Financial Services Committee is seeking records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to the Trump Organisation.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is investigating how Mr Trump’s foreign business deals have affected government foreign policy, his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his family’s ties to the Saudi crown prince and why he so suddenly called for a Syria withdrawal in December.

Mr Trump has refused to release his tax returns, as is customary for a US President, so the House on Ways and Means Committee is building a case for why they should be made public, and could later lodge a formal request for their release.

The Trump family will come under intense scrutiny. The House Oversight and Reform Committee plans to investigate Ivanka’s use of private email for government business, and wants to look at allegations the Trump administration is manipulating the 2020 Census for political gain. It will also look at the administration’s response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico; the water crisis in Flint, Michigan; and Cabinet officials’ use of government jets for personal travels.

There is, of course, potential that the Democrats’ many investigations will work against them, with the public perceiving them as obsessed with humiliating Mr Trump at the expense of getting vital work done for the country.

The public — and most Democrats — does not support impeachment.

But the revelations so far have been major, suggesting the new investigations may well turn up more scandal.

One thing seems uncertain for this divided government, and that is continuing turmoil. Chaos is now the new normal.

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