Does the White House edict that “any negative polls are fake news” still hold here or do Fox polls get special dispensation because they’re on the team?
The good news: At 48 percent, the number who say the economy is getting better rather than worse for their family is the highest it’s been since 2003(!!). That’s due to a massive swing in post-election optimism among Republicans, who are up 54 points in this metric. A lot of red-staters out there are excited about the Trump economy. Between this month’s jobs report and the sustained Wall Street rally, who can blame them?
That’s one gruesome number on health care when the GOP’s in the middle of trying to overhaul ObamaCare. (The GOP bill itself draws a similar rating of 34/54.) In fact, it may be that angst about health-care reform is beginning to cannibalize Trump’s overall job approval. He was at 48/47 in Fox’s poll just a month ago; today, despite the economic excitement among voters, he’s slipped to 43/51. If you’re a Trumper who hates “RyanCare,” here’s your cue to encourage him to bail out before he sustains any more damage. Before you do, though, ask yourself this: How much better could Trump’s numbers on handling health care realistically be? The other party will uniformly oppose any GOP attempt to undo ObamaCare, and within the GOP there’s bound to be dissatisfaction for conflicting reasons — conservatives will find any compromise too far to the center while moderates will find it too far to the right. Result: No one’s happy. And in fact, when Fox News drilled down into its numbers here, that’s what it found:
Two-thirds of the bill’s opponents think it goes too far in wrecking O-Care but a significant minority of one-fifth think it doesn’t go far enough. And even that fifth might contain a spectrum of opinion. Some people may be Rand Paul conservatives who want a clean repeal; others may be Bernie Sanders socialists who want single-payer. (Liberals complained for years that ObamaCare’s poor polling didn’t reflect the “true” state of public opinion since some of its critics were hard-leftists who disliked the bill because it wasn’t a big enough step towards socialized medicine.) What you’re seeing here in two small data sets is the agony of health-care politics. It’s hard to thread the needle and win majority support when there are so many different strains of opinion to please. Maybe a more populist bill could do it, but “ObamaCare Lite”?
If I were Trump, though, I think I’d be more worried about the “repeal and replace” number here than my job approval on health care:
The GOP has spent a lotttt of rhetoric on repealing ObamaCare, not just last year during the campaign but over the six years previous. It’s why Ted Cruz was telling a crowd today that they’ll be laughing stocks if they don’t follow through. For most voters, though, reforming ObamaCare is a distant priority. As always, jobs are job one — especially so with Trump, who got elected preaching protectionism and infrastructure. Byron York devoted his column today to the oddness of Trump, the “jobs president,” kicking off his term with a high-stakes health-reform showdown that looks headed for dismal failure instead of some broadly popular job-creation program like the Steve Bannon infrastructure plan. Looking at this Fox data, that point seems more salient than ever. If you dislike the House bill, maybe that’s the way to pressure Trump into dropping it — simply table it for now, focus on infrastructure to build support for your broader agenda, and then return to health care in a few months with a new, more populist bill masterminded by the White House itself.
As for Paul Ryan, remember that interview this morning where he reminded his “RyanCare” critics that Trump co-wrote the bill? Here he is making the point much more forcefully this afternoon. Could it be that he’s heard the rumors that White House aides are starting to blame him for the House bill’s poor reception? There’s no telling how ugly this clusterfark might get!