Jun 25, 2018

Trump's winning, cynical plan

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

An odd paradox in defining this moment in politics: The more President Trump does, says and tweets outrageous things, the more his critics go bananas and the better he does in the polls. 

The big picture: Our parallel universes are spinning farther apart. The coverage (and much of the reality) is a White House in chaos, and an erratic president improvising as his own policy adviser, chief of staff, comms director and tweeter-in-chief.

Tune into Twitter, and you'd think the entire civilized world has turned against him. And yet:

  • Gallup has Trump's approval at a new high since the beginning of his presidency: 45%. That's roughly the same as others at this point: Barack Obama (46%), Bill Clinton (46%), Ronald Reagan (45%) and Jimmy Carter (43%).
  • Support among Republicans is 90% in Gallup, also a high.
  • Among independents, he's up to 42% — tied for his personal best, and only the fourth week in his presidency that he has been at 40% or above.
  • Trump's attacks on Mueller are working, too: The special counsel has a 53% unfavorable rating in Morning Consult polling — a new high, and a whopping 26-point spike since July of 2017

Trump thinks he has found a winning formula, his advisers tell Axios. And he might be right:

  • The more he trashes Mueller, and the more he trashes the media and the media trashes him, the more Republicans want to have his back.
  • And the more casual viewers see everything like the Russia probe as messy and muddy, not just Trump.
  •  Our politics are becoming ever more tribal, and his voters are numb to the outrageousness.
  • It's arguably the most cynical strategy imaginable. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful politically. 

Be smart: The rise in Trump’s numbers, and the shrinking Democratic advantage in House races, are reinforcing Trump’s worship of his own instincts on policy.

  • Except many of these choices may make his reelection even more dependent on his worshipful base, and less appealing to swing voters.
  • It’s a circular political strategy that relies on ignoring independent voters, and assuming they won’t turn out.
  • It creates a narrow, treacherous path to reelection.

Go deeper:

Editor's Note: Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our Smart Brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Total cases surge to over 700,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now than more than 700,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 32,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Saturday he would issue a "strong" travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 min ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 704,095 — Total deaths: 33,509 — Total recoveries: 148,824.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 132,637 — Total deaths: 2,351 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked" people
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reported 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reported almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Cuomo: Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "really panicked people"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference Sunday that President Trump's unexpected Saturday announcement of a possible "short-term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut to curb the spread of the coronavirus "really panicked people."

Why it matters: Though Trump ruled out the mandatory quarantine later that day, Cuomo said people still called "all night long" asking about the comments and many likely fled the New York area — possibly spreading the virus further.