President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) is in a position to accomplish something in Washington – destroy the Republican majority in Congress.
There is strong evidence that rank and file Republicans are turning against GOP leaders, Congress and possibly their own party. Most interesting is a September 28 CNN Poll that shows anger at Congress is rising to new heights among the Republican base.
Highlights of CNN’s findings that should scare Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to death include:
- 63% of Republicans surveyed admitted to being angry at their own party as well as Democrats.
- The percentage of Republicans who said they had a “favorable” view of the Grand Old Party fell by 22% in just six months. Back in March, 88% of Republicans had a favorable view of the GOP, by September that number fell to 66%.
- Only 56% of self-described Trump supporters said they had a positive view of the Republican Party in September. That number was down from 76% in March.
- Only 20% of rank and file Republicans approved of the performance of GOP leaders in Congress in September. That number was down from 39% in January.
- Only 31% of Trump supporters said they back the Republican leadership in Congress.
- Only 39% of all Republicans said they backed the party’s leadership in Congress.
- Ryan had a 49% approval rating among Trump supporters in September.
- McConnell had a 31% approval rating among Republicans in September.
- 79% of Republicans thought Trump was moving the Party in the right direction.
- Only 52% of Republicans thought Congress was moving the party in the right direction.
Worst of all more than two-thirds of Americans now disprove of the Republican Party. Just 29% of Americans approved of the GOP, the lowest number since CNN collecting data back in 1992. The GOP’s approval rating is now lower than it was during the government shutdown in 2013.
Will Trump Supporters Turn on Congress
These numbers are bad news for Congressional Republicans because they indicate that Trump supporters might turn on them. The biggest nightmare for Ryan and McConnell is that Trump supporters would vote Democrat just to spite them.
This is a strong possibility because there is evidence that some voters are crossing party lines and voting for candidates they dislike, to hurt party standard bearers they hate. The 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey found that 12% of the supporters of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) voted for Trump in November, Newsweek reported. Around 10% of those who switched their vote to Trump considered themselves strong Democrats.
If this pattern repeats itself many Trump supporters might follow the lead of Sanders supporters and vote against Congressional Republicans. This is even more likely if Trump supporters think Congressional Republicans are turning against their hero.
The only strategy Republicans might have is to convince voters that Democrats plan to impeach their hero. Next year’s Republican Congressional strategy is likely to be a constant series of warnings that a Trump impeachment is imminent.
How Abandoning Impeachment can Help Democrats win
Therefore a smart move on Democrats’ part would be to promise not to vote to impeach and to try and work with Trump. It will not be popular among the Democratic base, but such a promise might lead to majorities in both houses of Congress.
It is not clear if Democrats are that smart or if Trump would be willing to work with them. The situation will be made worse by outrageous behavior by Trump, or evidence of criminal behavior.
A dark horse possibility is that Republicans themselves will move to impeach Trump after the 2018 Congressional elections. This is likely if the GOP loses and blames Trump and punishes him. Remember there will be a lame duck session in December 2018 when Republicans will have a chance to throw Trump out.
A big reason why Republicans would do this is to put Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana), who can be relied on to veto all Democratic legislation in the Oval Office. Trump is likely to sign Democratic measures he likes; such as single-payer health insurance, especially if it helps him in the polls.
Trump himself can make this situation far worse by attacking individual members of Congress or sabotaging their reelection efforts. If Republicans blame Trump for losses or find him a political liability they will turn on him. When they do it will be ugly because there is evidence a destructive Republican Civil War is brewing.
The Republican Civil War is here
U.S. Senator Bob Corker’s (R-Tennessee) recent outbursts show there is little love for Trump on Capitol Hill. Instead, the relationship between Trump and Congressional Republicans (and Trump supporters and Republicans) is beginning to resemble a GOP civil war.
The New York Times described the relationship between Trump and McConnell as a “political cold war.” In August, the Times reported that Trump and had McConnell cannot the sight of each other and have not spoken in weeks.
One reason why McConnell is mad at Trump is that the President has all but endorsed Dr. Kelli Ward; who has promised a primary challenge to a sitting Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Trump sent out tweets against Flake that might be a sign of things to come.
“Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!” – Trump wrote on August 17, 2017. All it would take is a barrage of such emails against other Congressional Republicans to tear the party apart.
It looks as if Trump is about to unleash another wave of political upheaval that might tear his party apart and destroy the Republican congressional majority. Like Britain’s Conservatives, the Republicans seem destined to tear their party apart with meaningless conflict.