Mitch McConnell’s Historically-Low Approval Ratings

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

President Trump continues to set new records for plummeting approval ratings after such a short time in office. As we noted over the weekend, Trump’s numbers are falling fast even in states where he performed well in the 2016 election.

Various polling outfits have shown Trump’s approval ratings in the low-30s this summer, which are historically low numbers for a President after his first six months in office. But as The Hill reports today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would need to nearly DOUBLE his approval ratings just to catch up to Trump’s record lows:

A Public Policy Polling survey found just 18 percent of respondents approve of the job McConnell is doing, compared with 74 percent who disapprove.

If McConnell were up for reelection today, 37 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Kentucky Republican. Another 44 percent would instead choose a Democratic opponent, according to the survey.

It’s important to understand just how difficult it is to have an approval rating of 18-freakin’-percent. Take a look at some of these comparisons:

♦ Late last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recorded the lowest approval rating for a sitting governor that Quinnipiac University pollsters had ever measured…and he bottomed out at 19%.

♦ Last month, Morning Consult released polling results for every U.S. Senator; Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake sported the worst approval rating at 37%.

♦ In a February Gallup poll, Russian President Vladimir Putin checked in with a 22% approval rating among Americans.

♦ Former President George W. Bush suffered low approval ratings for much of his second term, but still bottomed out at around 23%.

McConnell was just in Denver last week for a fundraiser with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has the unenviable job of leading the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for the 2018 election cycle. Gardner himself is scraping the floor with approval ratings at a meager 24%.

Great American Eclipse Thread

UPDATE #2: Apparently President Trump looked at the eclipse without protective glasses. Because, of course he did.

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UPDATE: President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump doing the eclipse:

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UPDATE

See it, shoot it, discuss it, mind your pets, drive safely.

BREAKING: Perlmutter Will Run for Re-Election in CD-7

UPDATE #3: Democrats Brittany Pettersen and Dominick Moreno have both “suspended” their campaigns and endorsed Perlmutter for re-election.

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UPDATE #2: The Colorado Springs Gazette has more response from the four Democratic candidates who had already filed to run in CD-7:

The Colorado Pols website first reported Monday morning that Perlmutter would officially seek re-election, and The Denver Post first reported Perlmutter’s statement on his decision.

Colorado Politics was the first to report Perlmutter was reconsidering his earlier decision and would likely run for his seat in Congress again, and that other candidates were reconsidering, as a result…

…Moreno announced Monday morning he is dropping out of the Democratic primary and will instead back Perlmutter.

“We continue to be in great hands with Congressman Perlmutter,” Moreno said in a statement. “Thank you to the many people who supported me along this journey. My time serving our community does not end with our campaign suspending, and I remain committed to standing up for our values in the state Senate.”

Kerr said through a spokeswoman Monday he will be discussing the development with friends, family and supporters before making a decision “in the next day or two.”

Campaigns for Pettersen and Baer also responded with comments from spokespeople. It is unlikely that any of the four Democrats will ultimately remain in the race now that Perlmutter is back.

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Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County).

UPDATE: Here’s Perlmutter’s official statement on his decision:

“Over the last few weeks a lot has happened, both for me and in the world. I’ve taken some time to regroup and recharge, and in so doing I’ve had many meaningful conversations with friends, neighbors, supporters and family who have encouraged me to run again. I have appreciated each and every conversation. It has made me take time to reflect on the future. And I’ve come to the conclusion to run again for re-election. To ask the hardworking people of the 7th district to once again put their trust in me to be their voice in Washington. I care deeply for our state and I love my home which is here in the 7th district.

“I’ve talked to Andy, Brittany, Dominick and corresponded with Dan about my decision. They are all wonderful people and I know for them and some others my decision is not convenient or well timed, for which I’m sorry. But I know I have more to do and more to give to the people of the 7th district. I understand this is not an ideal situation – I really do – but I know we can all work together to fight for our Colorado way of life.”

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Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) has decided to run for re-election in CD-7 and has informed other Democratic candidates in the district of his decision. Colorado Pols was first to report the news Monday morning.

Perlmutter’s decision to seek a seventh term marks a whirlwind few months for the longtime Jeffco Democrat. Perlmutter was a candidate for governor for a few months before a surprise announcement in July that he would no longer be a candidate for any office in 2018. In recent weeks, however, word began to leak that Perlmutter was reconsidering that decision and being encouraged by supporters to run for re-election in a district he has never failed to win by a margin of at least 10 points.

Perlmutter’s decision likely ends the Congressional candidacies of four Democrats who had been running to succeed him. For reasons related to campaign finance laws, candidates currently in the race may not officially “close” their campaign committees until a later date.

Monday Open Thread

“I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”

–Booker T. Washington

America Doesn’t Do Snap Elections, And That’s Too Bad

Jennifer Calfas of TIME writes today about a particularly damaging new poll for President Donald Trump:

Amid a tumultuous week across America, President Donald Trump saw low approval ratings in three key swing states that helped catapult him to victory last November.

According to a new NBC News/Marist poll released Monday, Trump has an approval rating of under 40% in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, three states that turned red in the 2016 election for the first time in a presidential election since the 1980s. He won each of those states by less than 100,000 votes.

In those states, more than six in 10 voters said they believe Trump has embarrassed them since the election. About one in four said Trump made them proud, according to the poll.

Trump won surprise victories in critical Rust Belt and Upper Midwest states–at least they were surprising to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which was foolishly campaigning in states that as it turns out she would never win in the campaign’s final days while letting these presumed safe states slip away. The economically nationalistic (and xenophobic) message Trump offered to voters in a few economically beleaguered states gave him an edge that in the allowed him to overcome a three-million popular vote advantage for Hillary.

But that was never going to be the end of the story, with those voters needing to see tangible progress in order to remain loyal to Trump. The near-total lack of not just progress, but basic functionality in Washington since Trump took office despite one-party control of the government, while the administration’s innumerable scandals compound almost daily, is lethal to the swing-vote support that put Trump over the top.

We imagine a lot of them feel rather swindled, much like the majority of Americans (and Coloradans) who didn’t vote for Trump themselves felt after fewer than 100,000 voters in four states trumped the votes of millions.

There is of course no provision for “taking a mulligan” in American politics like there is in other places like the United Kingdom. Right now, the inability to constitutionally change what could be broadly characterized as failing leadership in the United States looks pretty bad in the eyes of the rest of the world. Anything that can be done about it rests in the hands of Trump’s own party, which does not appear to have the collective will to intervene.

The result is that the 2018 elections may see historic pent-up voter frustration unleashed on Trump’s party, in the Rust Belt but not just there. Perversely, the growing likelihood of a major defeat in 2018 could prompt Republicans to hold on to Trump for longer than they would otherwise, in hopes of accomplishing agenda items.

That could be the story of the next year. How much can the GOP-controlled government jam through before the voters make them stop.

Weekend Open Thread

“A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry.”

–George Bernard Shaw

You Should Probably Stop Saying That

Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne. Most likely.

Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne is totally absolutely probably maybe running for Governor in 2018. Possibly.

Earlier this month we learned that Lynne was “exploring” a bid for Governor, with the self-professed caveat that she wasn’t sure there was enough support for her among Democrats to pursue a campaign in 2018. As the Denver Post quoted Lynne on Aug. 1:

“I want to make sure that I have everything in order. A lot of people urge candidates to run. But you really want to make sure that you can solidify that — that they will be endorsers, that they will be financial supporters and that’s a process.”

As we said at the time: “If you’re not sure that you would have the support to mount a strong statewide campaign, then you don’t have the support to mount a strong statewide campaign.” But as the Summit Daily News reports, Lynne’s proto-campaign is sticking with its message that she still isn’t sure if she should really run, even though she’s already filed to run:

Lynne is scheduled to appear at a Summit County Democrats mixer in Breckenridge on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 20, with gubernatorial candidates Mike Johnston, Cary Kennedy and Rep. Jared Polis. The private party event will include brief introductions followed by a short Q&A.

Reached Thursday afternoon, Curtis Hubbard of OnSight Public Affairs — an advisor to Lynne — said she has received a groundswell of encouragement to run, but is still lining up formal support before making an announcement. [Pols emphasis]

“Donna is using this exploratory phase to identify supporters and to hear from key Democrats across the state,” Hubbard said in a statement. “Sunday’s appearance is part of that ongoing effort. She expects to make a formal announcement in the weeks ahead.”

Thursday’s story in the Summit Daily News was a follow-up on the fact that Lynne had officially filed paperwork to run for governor as of Aug. 11. There is no such thing as an “exploratory committee” in Colorado — you either file paperwork to form a candidate committee or you don’t — but this detail is apparently confusing to some news outlets.

As the Aspen Times Tweeted today, the only step left for Lynne’s pending gubernatorial campaign is to announce that she is really running for Governor. This is partially true; the real next step for Lynne is to STOP SAYING THAT YOU DON’T KNOW IF PEOPLE WILL SUPPORT YOUR CAMPAIGN.

I’m Donna Lynne, and I’m really not sure that anybody wants me to run for governor!  

In politics and in life, cantaloupes can be great metaphors. We’ll leave you with this image from the La Junta Tribune-Democrat on July 30, 2017 (we couldn’t possible make this up):

Mostly ripe, but I’ll make a final decision at a later date.

 

Get More Smarter on Friday (August 18)

The sun will come out…tomorrow…and Sunday…but not Monday. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

So long, Steve BannonPresident Trump’s Chief Strategist is out of a job.

Earlier this week, Bannon told American Prospect magazine that he thought the recent news focus on white supremacists would actually be politically beneficial to Trump and Republicans.

 

► Lawmakers are growing concerned that President Trump might deliberately refuse to spend money allocated by Congress for federal budgets. As Politico reports:

Lawmakers and activists are preparing for the possibility that President Donald Trump’s administration, in its zeal to slash the federal budget, will take the rare step of deliberately not spending all the money Congress gives it — a move sure to trigger legal and political battles.

The concern is mainly focused on the State Department, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has drawn criticism for failing to spend $80 million allocated by Congress to fight Russian and terrorist propaganda and for trying to freezecongressionally authorized fellowships for women and minorities. Activists and congressional officials fear such practices could take hold at other U.S. departments and agencies under Trump…

…Advocacy groups are consulting lawyers and gathering information on current spending and the laws that govern the budget; one nongovernmental-organization network is even surveying humanitarian organizations to gather more facts. Capitol Hill staffers are scouring the fine print of appropriations bills, hunting for loopholes that would allow the executive branch to slow down or stop spending.

The goal is to fend off cuts that they fear could damage foreign aid programs, hobble U.S. diplomacy and ultimately weaken America’s national security.

So, about that separate “branches of government” thing…

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Buh-Bye, Steve Bannon

UPDATE: As The Atlantic reports, Bannon ain’t happy:

“He’s going nuclear,” said another friend. “You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.”

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Steve Bannon, one scary looking dude.

That’s the word from the New York Times, controversial White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is being shown the door as the Trump presidency’s struggle to find footing in the grip of self-inflicted chaos and disaster goes on:

President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but it was delayed in the wake of the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Bannon had clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers and members of the president’s family.

Bannon, who never looked comfortable in the Donald Trump White House’s strict Manhattan dress code, was both the focal point of controversy and the ideological pole star that drew in the specific segments of voters considered integral to Trump’s narrow election. It was Bannon’s unapologetic nationalism as voiced by Trump that appealed to Rust Belt voters disaffected by NAFTA, which proved key to Trump’s Electoral College majority. And Bannon’s platform also played a role in motivating the racist fringe to support Trump–a disturbingly symbiotic relationship as became clearer in the past week.

It’s safe to say that history will not miss this creep.

Amber McReynolds Moves Toward SoS Bid

Word of a possible new Democratic entry into the 2018 Colorado Secretary of State’s race could spark new interest in a critically important but underappreciated statewide downballot office, one that Democrats have tried and failed to win for a number of years. Amber McReynolds, the current Director of Election for the Denver County Clerk and Recorder’s office, is reportedly well down the path of discussions to determine if she should challenge incumbent Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

McReynolds, who is currently unaffiliated but would likely register as a Democrat for this race, would represent a departure from previous candidates with mostly legislative or other political experience; an elections professional from the state’s foremost county clerk’s office–more in the mold of successful Republican candidates for Secretary of State like Donetta Davidson and…well, yes, incumbent Secretary of State Wayne Williams. There’s an argument that a challenger from a position of competency like another well-known elections official would represent a better challenger to Williams, who has prided himself on running as smooth and uncontroversial a ship as possible.

That was of course made much more difficult by Williams’ very poor handling of the recent request from the Trump administration’s so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, voicing support for an effort that even most Republican secretaries of state think is a waste of time and resources. Williams’ initially confusing statements about what data was bring provided resulted in thousands of Colorado voters un-registering in an act of misguided protest. Since then Williams has tried to walk back that gaffe while reaffirming the integrity of our state’s elections, but for lay political news consumers in Colorado the damage is arguably done.

So yes, we’d say there is an opening here–to win an office that has bedeviled Democrats for longer than most of us have been doing politics in Colorado. And if she does get in, McReynolds could be just the candidate Democrats need to make the most of it.

Friday Open Thread

“If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”

–Richard Branson

Jason Crow Keeps Up Momentum in CD-6

Democrat Jason Crow

With every Trump Tweet, Democrats seemingly become more emboldened about their chances in 2018. Whether sensing opportunity or stoking the fires of their own growing anger with the White House and an inept Republican Congress, Democrats in Colorado have had little trouble finding candidates for the most high-profile races in the state.

Three Democrats are running for the opportunity to take on Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) in CD-6, a seat that Dems have been perpetually optimistic about capturing ever since redistricting changed the boundaries in 2012. While the slate of candidates may not yet be complete, with each passing week Democrat Jason Crow seems to be pulling further and further away from the rest of the pack. Today, Crow’s campaign announced that it has secured two more significant endorsements that should play big dividends in a Democratic Primary: former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and state Senator Irene Aguilar.

Crow’s solid Q2 fundraising numbers and a steady stream of notable endorsements have given him plenty of momentum over the other two Democrats in the race (Levi Tillemann and David Arrestad). We’ve got a long way to go here, of course, but surrogates for the incumbent Coffman have already demonstrated that Crow is the Democrat who concerns them the most in 2018. If Crow can keep up this momentum, we’re likely to see that General Election matchup heating up one year from now.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 17)

On this day 11 years ago, it was 2006. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) isn’t up for re-election until 2020, but he has a LOT of work to do just to win back his Republican base. Conservative writer Jennifer Rubin absolutely dismantled Gardner in a column yesterday in the Washington Post titled “Cory Gardner Has a Choice: Voters or Trump.” Here’s an excerpt:

Gardner has sacrificed his integrity and betrayed the confidence voters place in him to be an independent-minded voice. And for what? His reputation has suffered, his profile has fallen…

…It’s Gardner’s moral absenteeism that reminds all voters how unworthy of office are Trump and his go-along Republicans. Anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats should get ready for 2020 — they can and should have the chance to knock him out of office.

Yikes! It has not been a good week for Sen. Gardner. Maybe he’ll feel better tomorrow after he hosts a fundraiser tonight in Denver along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

President Trump is on a mission to burn every bridge imaginable, and it may only be a matter of time before he is forced to answer his own phones in the White House. As Politico reports, Trump is essentially just an orang-er version of that angry old man down the street who shakes his fist at kids for running on his lawn:

President Donald Trump’s decision to double down on his argument that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do…

…The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.”

That thing about the old guy down the street? We take that back. Trump is 9-years-old. You’re not the boss of me!!!

Never content to let a divisive issue settle, Trump is now raging about the removal of statues that celebrate the Confederate Army. From the Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of “beautiful statues and monuments” in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee.

Trump’s string of morning tweets made clear the president was not willing to back down over his claims Tuesday that some of the demonstrators had legitimate grievances over the loss of Southern “history,” and that “both sides” were to blame in the mayhem that left a woman dead and at least 19 more injured. Trump made those claims a day after he had belatedly condemned the neo-Nazi and Klux Klan groups that organized the Unite the Right rally. Politicians from both parties have criticized the president for inflaming racial tensions and failing to provide clear moral leadership for the nation.

History may well show that Trump’s Presidency truly did collapse this week. Hell, even Brick Tamland Rep. Doug Lamborn is condemning Trump’s comments about white supremacists in no uncertain terms.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Even Doug Lamborn Is Dissing Trump Now

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, that’s everybody:

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pushed back against President Donald Trump’s Tuesday comments that “there is blame on both sides” for weekend violence in Virginia, saying any statements that in any way embolden white supremacists are wrong.

“The KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and nationalists are abhorrent,” the El Paso County Republican said. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong.”

Trump remarks on his home turf at Trump Tower in New York City backtracked on a more deliberate statement he made Monday in Washington condemning those hate groups. He angrily placed blame on liberal groups on Tuesday in addition to white supremacists for the Charlottesville, Va., violence. Some of those protesting the rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were “also very violent,” he said.

“There are two sides to a story,” he said. He added that some facts about the violence in Charlottesville still aren’t known.

Not to be gratuitously insulting to the Republican representative of deep-red El Paso County and Colorado Springs, but Rep. Doug Lamborn has a well-earned reputation for not being, you know, the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer. Lamborn has had his own racially-tinged gaffes, like his unfortunate reference to President Barack Obama as a “tar baby” he’d rather not hug–an incident that may in retrospect may have been more clumsy than than it was intentionally racist.

Either way, President Trump has now given even the most gaffe-prone politician a wide-open shot at rehabilitation, simply by jumping on the bandwagon of condemning Trump’s increasingly undeniable and unapologetic racism–and even a bunch for whom the offenses were not ‘gaffes’ at all. After doubling down on horrifying initial remarks after the violence in Virginia last weekend that everyone thought the White House would try to walk back–and indeed, they tried–there’s just not much for Republicans to do now other than minimize the collateral damage.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that more or less the whole Republican Party expressed its disapproval of Trump–and considering they did so just a couple of weeks before he won the election, their sincerity is not real easy to gauge.

Unless that prior behavior tells you everything you need to know.