What’s Behind Trump’s Rising Popularity?

Three theories as to why the poll numbers are improving for the president and his party.

  • First, the president’s personal standing has rebounded.
  • .. Second, the formidable Democratic advantage on the generic ballot for Congress has narrowed.

Let’s call them the economy, exhaustion, and equilibrium.

.. based on the strength of the economy, one would predict more favorable views of Trump.

.. The rise in Republican numbers has also coincided with the tax bill passed in December.

.. “There’s no question that Trump benefits when a critique of his tax and health care policies is not front and center—especially when voters are hearing Trump’s side of the story on the economy,”

.. another product is fatigue: When there are so many scandals, they all start to blend together and fade. One retort to the anti-Trump slogan “This is not normal” is to point out that by now cataclysmic scandals are in fact the new normal. Trump’s improvement may reflect exhaustion with scandals and diminished anger at the president as a result.

.. Democrats would need a strong slate of wins to take back the House and a near-miracle to take back the Senate.

.. Democrats still don’t have a unified message.

What Toronto Knows About Trump After Living Through Rob Ford

Ford, who died just over a year ago, from cancer, lied constantly and consistently and railed against the media and liberal élites. As one scandal led to another, he surrounded himself with cronies and family loyalists and, when truly tested, fell back on the flag-waving rallies that fired up his base.

.. In a city of immigrants, Ford’s message wasn’t built along racial divisions but along economic and social ones. Toronto’s inner suburbs were his Appalachia, less wealthy than the downtown core of the city, which served as his proxy for a sort of coastal élite. Ford created a culture war, presenting himself as an advocate for the hardworking everyman with the long commute behind the wheel on potholed roads and against the coddled, bike-riding latte sippers who lived downtown. Ford evoked his “war on the car” as brazenly as Trump’s own “war on coal.”

.. He effectively adopted this posture despite the fact that he inherited millions of dollars from his family

.. His typical supporter was the small-business owner fed up with taxes and traffic, who believed that he was ignored by a political class focussed on high-minded ideals of global urbanism and walkable cities. His campaign slogan was “Respect for Taxpayers,” and he promised to stop the city’s “gravy train” of runaway spending, on behalf of the little guy.

.. His swearing-in ceremony was conducted by the hockey commentator Don Cherry, who wore a pink double-breasted paisley suit in mockery of the “left-wing pinkos” opposed to Ford

..he included the city’s newspaper reporters, a group of people “that ride bicycles and everything,” Cherry said, implying a host of liberal sins.

.. When, three years into his tenure, journalists reported the existence of a video showing the mayor smoking crack, Ford fell back to his base and the comforts of the culture war.

.. Post-truth was a hallmark of his administration. He peddled in falsehoods (for example, a repeatedly disproved claim that he’d saved the city a billion Canadian dollars) and flat-out lies (he claimed not to have smoked crack, even though the video had been seen by numerous journalists, police, and others who described it in detail), and reiterated them loudly and unashamedly. Efforts to debunk his lies were dismissed by Ford as nothing more than the jealous desperation of the liberal élites. His Breitbart was a weekly call-in afternoon radio talk show that he hosted with Doug, coupled with friendly columnists at the right-wing Sun tabloid newspaper

.. The more Rob Ford’s lies were flagged and earnestly debunked, the more he was perceived as a straight shooter by his base.

.. Ford’s foibles were, to them, a big middle finger to Toronto’s status quo.

.. Jimmy Kimmel mocked him nightly. But nothing stuck. He was shameless, and that shamelessness coated him like Teflon.

.. but as the months wore on and Ford stayed the course it all felt a bit futile. Why bother writing articles, mounting investigations, and uncovering facts if they had no discernible impact?

.. What we couldn’t see at the time is that politics is a long game. Yes, Ford held onto office, but, by the time he was forced to bow out of his reëlection campaign, because of illness, his political career was already damaged. His name was a global punch line, he retained few political allies, and many of his formal powers had been stripped from him by the city council. Even his radio show was cancelled

.. Yes, the true loyalists of Ford Nation still adore him, and many voted for his brother, but his appeal to a broader base of small-government conservatives was gone. It hadn’t vanished overnight in a sudden, dramatic revelation that forced Ford from office. It built over each story, eroding Ford’s appeal bit by bit, until at least some of the voters who put him into office were ashamed to admit they’d done so and did what they could to right their mistake.

Scandal Fatigue and the Trump Ethical Swamp

a major Chinese financial services firm may invest $4 billion in a Manhattan skyscraper owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that Kushner’s family stands to take home about $500 million for itself from the transaction.

.. The Kushners would become equity partners with the Chinese firm, Anbang Insurance Group.

.. Best of all for the Kushners, the deal would rescue the family company from the consequences of overpaying for the building, 666 Fifth Avenue, which it purchased in 2007 for $1.8 billion. It would also buy out another prominent Trump political backer who invested in the building, Steve Roth of Vornado Realty, for 10 times his original investment.

.. The New York Times reported in January that Kushner spearheaded the talks with Anbang about an investment in his family’s business

.. “A classic way you influence people is by financially helping their family,” one public interest advocate told the Bloomberg reporters about the Anbang deal.

.. If we’ve learned anything about Trump in the chaotic seven weeks since he assumed the presidency, it’s that his entire clan will test our capacity for surprise, distaste and even outrage when it comes to financial conflicts of interest.

.. the sheer volume of flagrant conflicts that have already emerged may induce “scandal fatigue” in anyone who values – in the most nonpartisan and most non-ideological of ways — ethics and good government.