A series of recent polls show a surly electorate in North Carolina. They don’t like Donald Trump and they think the country is heading in the wrong direction. That’s bad news for incumbents, the majority of whom are Republicans.

According to polls by Elon University, High Point University and Spectrum News (formerly Time-Warner), Donald Trump is highly unpopular in the Old North State. His approval rating is below 40% in each of the polls and in two of them, a majority of people disapprove of the job he’s doing. Nationally, Trump is more unpopular than any president in history at this point in his term.

In addition, the Spectrum and High Point polls find that more than 60% of the people believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. According to the High Point poll, only 13% of the people approve of Congress. These findings should have Republicans scrambling. In a non-presidential year, the national mood will be the single biggest factor in the election and voters are clearly not happy.

Among North Carolina politicians, only Roy Cooper fares well. He has solid approval ratings while both Senator Tillis and Senator Burr get mixed, mediocre results. Neither Senator has approval ratings outside of the low thirties and about the same number disapprove of them. If Cooper’s numbers hold, he gives Democrats some cover while Republicans may find themselves running from the president.

Historically, the first mid-term following a new president is bad for the party in the White House. If these trends hold, 2018 will be no exception. That said, the election is still more than a year away and plenty could change.

Republicans in Congress would be wise start working with Democrats to get a few things done. Their focus on repealing Obamacare has probably hurt them. The program is more popular than it’s ever been and throwing people’s health care into doubt won’t help them next year.

The GOP has created a problem for itself, though. They’ve promised their base a lot that the rest of country doesn’t want. Failing to repeal Obamacare could leave incumbents vulnerable in primaries, but repealing it would almost certainly make them more vulnerable in the general election. They have little to show for the amount of power they’ve accumulated. If they want to keep their power, they should probably move to the center, pass broadly popular legislation and let the chips fall where they may. Otherwise, they’re letting about a third of the electorate dictate their agenda and that’s a recipe for disaster.


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