If Republicans in North Carolina needed more bad news, it comes this morning following a focus group in Wilmington. Twelve people who voted for Trump were asked their opinions of him and other matters of concern. Almost all of the participants said negative things about the president and indicated that he’s made matters worse, not better.
When asked to describe the president, members of the group “called him incompetent, a baffling fool, childlike, a loose cannon, an immature narcissist and ignorant.” And these are his supporters. In a year like 2018, when there’s no statewide election on the ballot, the president is the de facto top of the Republican ticket. The GOP needs to figure out how to distance themselves from the president before the election next year.
To put the electorate in perspective, their top priorities are the economy and healthcare. While they give Trump relatively high marks for the economy, they’re worried about healthcare at a time when the GOP is going to vote to end the individual mandate, stripping away insurance from 13 million people and raising premiums on millions more. In Virginia, healthcare was the leading issue in the elections earlier this month. That alone should be a warning sign for the GOP.
Nobody mentioned Russia or the Mueller investigation. That could change if more revelations emerge but it also might be a distraction that Democrats need to avoid. Elections are about things that affect people’s day-to-day lives, not the obsession of political junkies and social media.
One opening for Republicans could be to run against Mitch McConnell. All twelve people used negative phrases to describe Mitch McConnell. It’s hard to be a member of the party in power and to run against it, but there might not be any other option if the president and Congressional leadership are held in low esteem by voter who previously supported them.
The focus group shows the problems Republicans face heading into the midterms. Healthcare is a leading issue and Republicans can’t figure out how to improve it. The people who elected the president no longer support him. The GOP leadership in Congress is not respected by the voters Republicans need to win next year. On the bright side, they’ve got a year to figure out how address these concerns. It’s still not looking good.