In this episode we discuss President Trump’s address to Congress last week, check in on the public polling data after one month of the Trump administration, and take a look at the Obamacare replacement bill released by House GOP leadership last night.
Segment 1: Presidential Address to Congress
- President Trump’s address to Congress on Tuesday night was widely praised as his first “presidential” moment, a moment that voters watching at home seem to have responded to. A CNN/ORC poll of voters who watched the speech showed 57% of respondents with a very positive reaction to the speech, a number that exceeded the reaction to all of President Obama’s State of the Union speeches except for his very first in February 2009.
- While 58% of respondents thought that President Trump would move the country in the right direction before the speech, after the speech that number shot up to 69%. That’s a data point that the Trump White House has to love seeing. And not surprisingly, that same percentage, 69%, say that Donald Trump made them feel more optimistic about the direction of the country after his speech.
- A CBS/YouGov poll found similarly positive reviews for President Trump. Even a near majority of Democrats, 46%, found the speech to be “presidential”, and nearly ¾ of Independent voters thought it was “unifying”.
- One thing to keep in mind, as this CBS article on their poll results points out, members of the president’s own party are more likely than others to watch an address to Congress or State of the Union, which presumably affects these overall numbers somewhat.
- After a few more days to process the speech, a Huffington Post/YouGov online panel weighed in, and they too generally approved of the speech, with 57% approving of the speech, though 52% also said it was similar to most of what he’s said and done since becoming president. So whether the public really viewed this speech as a change in tone is open to question.
- Monmouth University also released a poll conducted a few days after the speech and over the weekend, which found about 1-in-5 respondents saying they feel more confident about Trump’s presidency after the speech. A large number of those who came away feeling more confident were Republicans (47%) or Independents (44%).
Segment 2: Public Polling on President Trump and Congress / The Obamacare Replacement Bill
- Even before his address to Congress, there was some good news for President Trump in the public polling. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey from February 18th-22nd among registered voters showed Trump with significantly higher favorability ratings than both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party generally. The survey also found that a majority, 51%, of respondents thinks the media has been too critical of President Trump.
- A Morning Consult/POLITICO survey found President Trump’s job approval at 50%, the highest that it has reached in their tracking surveys since he became president. The same survey also found that 43% believe that the country is headed in the right direction, which might not look good on it’s face, but it is a serious improvement from the 71% who believed the country was on the wrong track on the day after Election Day.
- The Morning Consult/POLITICO survey also asked respondents whom they trust more to handle a variety of issues: Democrats in Congress or Republicans in Congress? Republicans are trusted more on the economy, jobs, and immigration, while Democrats are trusted more on health care (and Medicare and Medicaid), the environment, energy, and social security.
- That shows the extent to which President Trump has work to do to gain the public’s trust on certain issues, especially as the Republican Congress begins their efforts in earnest to repeal and replace Obamacare. The country is still very much divided on whether to trust them in those efforts.
- This line of questioning on who voters trust more becomes even more relevant as the GOP leadership’s newly released Obamacare replacement bill has finally seen the light of day, drawing instant criticism from the House Freedom Caucus and from Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, among others, as “Obamacare lite”.
- Our own Senator Cory Gardner is in the middle of the fray, as he joined 3 other GOP Senators in voicing concerns over the Medicaid expansion – concerns which were addressed in the bill that was eventually unveiled, but which only added to the criticism from more conservative members of the House and Senate. Clearly this is an issue where the Republican Party is fractured, and these divisions will likely need to be resolved for a repeal and replace bill to eventually pass.