Michigan Republicans are facing some ugly political winds in 2018.
Recent polling shows that Gov. Rick Snyder’s numbers remain dismal — and only look good in comparison to those of President Donald Trump.
In fact, EPIC-MRA found in its Aug. 27-Sept. 1 poll that 53 percent of likely ‘18 voters worry about Trump having access to the nuclear launch codes and 43 percent believe he’s a “mentally unstable person.”
And NBC/Marist had in its Aug. 13-17 survey that 62 percent said the new president “embarrassed” them and 59 percent said Trump’s decisions have “weakened the global image of the United States.”
Those are some jaw-dropping numbers for the GOP to contend with in ‘18, especially as every election cycle since 2006 has been dominated by national, top-of-the-ticket concerns.
We’re still more than a year away from the election. As we saw in 2016, the political landscape can change dramatically and conventional wisdom can be proved a farce. And Republicans have some key advantages in Michigan: a deep bench, generally good economy, favorable legislative maps for down-ballot races, and strong fundraising, aided by ever-laxer campaign finance laws.
Still, the fundamental question for any political party before an election is: Would you rather be us or them?
Right now, Democrats have some big positives in election fundamentals with poll numbers, an ignited liberal activist base, and voter fatigue after almost eight years of Republican rule in Michigan — and now they have total control in Washington.
Let’s drill down into some recent statewide surveys. Michigan has been a source of endless national fascination after giving Trump a narrow win last year, which helped put him over the top in the Electoral College. That was after Democratic nominees, win or lose, had won Michigan every cycle since 1988. Former President Obama’s margins of victory were 16 points in 2008 and almost 10 points in 2012.
So Trump’s 2016 victory in the Mitten State appeared to be a sea change.
But in poll after poll, indicates that Michigan’s infatuation with Trump was short-lived. His job approval sat at 62 percent negative in the EPIC-MRA survey. And when asked who was a more effective leader as president, 56 percent said Obama and only 32 percent answered Trump.
NBC/Marist had the new president with a 55 percent negative job approval rating. They also polled the other two Rust Belt states that flipped to Trump, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where his job approval was at 56 percent and 54 percent negative, respectively.
Snyder’s job approval was 57 percent negative in the EPIC-MRA poll. He’s the fifth most unpopular governor in the country, according to a July roundup from Morning Consult.
His numbers have been in the dumps since the Flint water crisis made international headlines in late 2015, but the governor has languished in negative territory for much of his tenure. Snyder managed to win re-election in 2014 anyway.
So if Snyder and Trump continue to post brutal numbers next year, Republicans can always hope that even some demoralized and disgusted voters will mark their ballots for them in 2018, just as they’ve done in years past.
Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at SusanJDemas.com. Follow her on Twitter here.