From the second Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Democrats (and their cohorts in the mainstream media) had a singular, focused, foolproof plan: They would attack Trump from every angle available, nonstop, and ultimately prevail in their quest to bring this president to his knees.
They would attack him as a racist. As a sexist. As a loose cannon who can’t keep his mouth shut on Twitter. As an ineffective CEO whose White House is out of control. As a Russian conspirator. As an idiot. As a Machiavellian genius who cares about nothing but his own power and enrichment. As a dictator-in-the-making who poses an unprecedented threat to democracy.
But it’s been eight months, and none of their attacks have hurt President Donald J. Trump in the slightest.
This is a remarkable failure on the part of the Democratic Party, because no one can argue that Trump’s first eight months in office have been filled with nearly as much “winning” as he promised on the campaign trail. There’s been no funding for the wall, Obamacare repeal and replace went down in flames, and we haven’t even gotten to tax reform or infrastructure. Under ordinary circumstances, he would be an easy target to hit for anyone inclined to do so.
But Trump has remained “Teflon,” according to an amusing new Politico story. No matter what the Democrats throw at him, it just slides right off. He remains fiercely popular with his core supporters, and the majority of registered Republicans are standing by their man. And with the 2018 and 2020 elections on their way, Democrats are starting to wonder: Is there anything they can do or say to bring this man down?
Data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states paint a difficult picture for the Democratic Party heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election. It suggests that Democrats are naive if they believe Trump’s historically low approval numbers mean a landslide is coming. The party is defending 10 Senate seats in states that Trump won and needs to flip 24 House seats to take control of that chamber.
The research, conducted by private firms and for Democratic campaign arms, is rarely made public but was described to POLITICO in interviews with a dozen top operatives who’ve been analyzing the results coming in.
“If that’s the attitude that’s driving the Democratic Party, we’re going to drive right into the ocean,” said Anson Kaye, a strategist at media firm GMMB who worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns and is in conversations with potential clients for next year.
What may be even worse news for Democrats is that their BIG IDEAS are failing to inspire much enthusiasm among voters. According to the latest polls, liberal touchstones like a higher minimum wage, free college, and universal healthcare test poorly even inside the Democratic base, with most left-leaning Americans inclined to view them as pipe dreams that Washington will never deliver on.
All of this is indicative of a failing party that failed to learn the right lessons in the 2016 election. Trump isn’t doing a perfect job as president, but even many Americans skeptical of his performance would like to see Democrats give him a chance to govern. So far, they’ve been mostly unwilling to do so. Now we’ll see if they back off…or if they double down and cost themselves the next election.