The GOP has one big problem in November

President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to lash out at someone. (I know, what's new?) While Trump's target, spec...

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 9:37 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 9:37 AM

President Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to lash out at someone. (I know, what's new?) While Trump's target, special counsel Robert Mueller, was familiar, Trump's line of attack was new. The President tweeted that the Mueller investigation "seems intent on damaging the Republican Party's chances in the November Election."

But let's get real for a moment. The person who is actually hurting the GOP's election prospects this fall is not Mueller. Rather, ironically enough, it's the head of the Republican Party. And that would be Donald J. Trump.

Just look at Trump's recent actions and policies that are increasingly unpopular with much of the American electorate.

Last week Trump held a disastrous summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he publicly sided with the Russian leader over our nation's intelligence agencies. While Trump tried to walk that comment back in an unintentionally comedic statement about "double negatives," as a new CBS poll makes clear, only 32% of voters approved of Trump's "performance" at the summit.

Did Mueller play a role in Trump's comments at the summit or his bumbling walk back? No, that was all Trump.

Then there's Trump's family separation policy that dominated the headlines for much of June. This cruel policy that resulted in children being ripped away from their mothers and fathers was even less popular than Trump's dreadful performance at the Helsinki summit.

As a CNN poll last month found, only 28% of Americans approved of that heartbreaking policy. In contrast, nearly two thirds of all Americans -- including nearly 70% of independent voters -- disapproved of Trump's immigration policy.

Did the Mueller investigation produce this heartless family separation policy? No, once again the credit belongs to Trump.

There's also Trump's numerous tariffs against our friends and competitors -- from Canada to China to the European Union. We are now seeing how these economic policies are having a negative impact on some Americans. Trump's trade war hits parts of the Midwest particularly hard, especially since China has responded with tariffs on farm products, cars and crude oil.

For example, as Bret Davis, an Ohio farmer who also serves as a director of the American Soybean Association, recently told Politico: "Since the announcement of the tariffs: we've lost 20% of our income in soybeans, that's nationally." GOP leaders are so concerned that Trump's tariffs will hurt Republican congressional candidates in the Midwest this fall that Vice President Mike Pence recently headed out to the region on a "damage control" mission to speak with GOP activists and donors.

And just a few days ago, the Tax Foundation, which generally favors conservative policies, warned that Trump's trade wars could cost 365,000 American jobs. Given all that, it's no surprise that a recent Pew poll finds that only 40% of Americans support Trump's tariffs. (And if more Americans lose their jobs and prices continue to increase, we can expect Trump's support to fall even further.)

Unless Mueller took a break from his investigation into the Russian government's attack on our 2016 elections to draft the President's trade policy, this again is the work of one man: Trump.

Now add to that Trump's personal woes. For example, we learned on Friday about a secret recording of a discussion between Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that took place shortly before the 2016 election. In it, they discussed Trump buying the rights to a story about his alleged affair with former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.

If true, this raises possible election law violations if Trump used campaign funds to buy McDougal's silence. It also raises the question of whether Trump cheated on his wife Melania shortly after she gave birth to their son.

How exactly is Mueller part of this? Answer: He's not.

All of this is likely having a growing impact on how Americans say they will vote this November. In late May, before these Trump policies and errors were in the news, a generic congressional ballot showed Democrats, on average, with only a 3.2% edge -- their favorability having narrowed significantly since earlier in the year.

Flash forward to today and Democrats have more than doubled their lead to 7.7%. Clearly, an increasing number of Americans want to send a message they don't approve of Trump -- and that they will elect Democrats to Congress who will act as a check on him.

Now to be fair, the political party of the President always tends to lose seats in midterm elections. So, it was very likely Republicans were going to lose some seats in Congress come this fall anyway.

But given Trump's unpopular policies and personal misconduct, if the Republicans find themselves drowning in a massive "blue wave" come election day, it won't be the fault of Mueller.

No, the blame for that will fall squarely on the shoulders of one person: Donald Trump.

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