Let’s accentuate the positive and start with the good. According to WaPo, support for the wall is up since last year. It’s still a minority proposition but as you refine the question to focus on registered voters instead of American adults generally, it’s practically a coin flip:
Support for a border barrier is building. Not only that, wall supporters are more dug in on the current standoff than wall opponents are.
Overall, Democrats appear somewhat more conciliatory than Republicans. The poll finds that 42 percent of Democrats who oppose the wall say congressional Democrats should refuse to budge even if it extends the shutdown; 37 percent say they should compromise with Trump. Among Republicans, 58 percent both support the wall and say Trump should continue to demand funding, compared with 22 percent who say he should compromise to end the shutdown.
Across all parties, 23 percent of wall opponents want Democrats to compromise versus just 16 percent of wall supporters who want Trump to compromise. Can Pelosi and Schumer continue to boycott talks given that tilt?
Now the bad. Although WaPo sees support for the wall increasing, CNN finds support flat at 39/56, practically the same as in December and almost unchanged from late 2016. And both polls find Trump taking most of the blame for the shutdown from the public. CNN:
The public generally is more apt to blame the President, with 55% saying he is more responsible for the shutdown than are Democrats in Congress, while 32% say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats. Another 9% say both are responsible. Democrats are more unified in their blame for the President (89% blame Trump) than are the Republican rank-and-file in blaming the Democrats (65% of Republicans blame the Democrats in Congress, 23% blame Trump). Independents are more apt to blame Trump (48% to 34%), and are most likely to say both sides are responsible (14%).
WaPo has similar numbers, with Trump and the GOP being blamed by 53 percent of the public versus 29 percent who blame Democrats. Interestingly, like CNN, they find more Republicans willing to blame Trump for the standoff (15 percent) than Democrats who are willing to blame congressional Dems (six percent). Maybe that’s a simple function of the stalemate revolving around Trump’s signature issue, maybe it’s a product of him telling Schumer and Pelosi on camera last month in the Oval Office that he’d take responsibility for any shutdown. More ominously, maybe it’s a sign that some Republicans are growing disgruntled with his leadership.
I don’t mean Never Trumpers either. Here’s the most hair-raising number from either poll, again via CNN:
The increase in disapproval for the President comes primarily among whites without college degrees, 45% of whom approve and 47% disapprove, marking the first time his approval rating with this group has been underwater in CNN polling since February 2018…
Those whites who do not have college degrees remain in favor of a wall along the border with Mexico (51% favor it, 46% oppose it), but they tilt toward blaming the President for the government shutdown (45% say he is more responsible for it, 39% the Democrats in Congress).
Whites without college degrees are the beating heart of Trump’s base, the key to his 2016 upset. Last month his approval rating among that group was 54/39. They’re the people who’ve been propping up his job approval over the last two years, but they’re also people who’d stand to suffer more from a cut-off of federal services than higher-income voters would. With working-class whites turning against him, Trump’s overall approval rating in CNN’s poll has dropped to 37/57 — worse than most other pollsters are seeing him right now, although there’s a general bad trend in the poll of polls too. Here’s the last six months of data at RCP:
Note the uptick in disapproval and dip in approval since late December, when the shutdown began. His overall net rating of -12.1 points is his worst mark since September. This is starting to bite in metrics of his performance, including and especially with his own base.
Even the increase in support for the wall is arguably less than it appears. Nate Cohn noted a few days ago that wall support correlates very closely with support for Trump himself. The split among the public on whether to build the wall in WaPo’s poll today, 42/54, precisely matches Trump’s overall job approval at RCP. Basically, if you’re pro-Trump you’re pro-wall, especially at a moment when he’s locked in a high-stakes staring contest with Pelosi and Schumer on the issue. Question, though: What happens to support for the wall if POTUS decides to give up on it or back-burner it for awhile? If support for the wall is mainly just a way of cheering on Trump for some people, where do those people go on the issue once the crisis is resolved? You could say the same about opponents too, of course — how many Democrats really find a border wall “immoral” and how many just want to see Trump lose this staring contest? The likely truth is that most Americans don’t feel strongly either way (although, per many previous polls, they oppose the wall on balance) but their positions intensify when there’s a big partisan showdown over it.
One last number: WaPo finds Americans strongly opposed (66 percent) to the idea of declaring a national emergency to start wall construction. Lindsey Graham suggested this morning that Trump could try re-opening the government for three weeks so that the parties can negotiate under less pressure, then go ahead and declare a national emergency if there’s no deal at that point. But that’s goofy. The only thing worse than a long shutdown would be a long shutdown followed immediately by a new shutdown. And Democrats aren’t going to deal if Trump’s standing there holding an emergency declaration over their heads. To make concessions under those circumstances would be to reward him for his threat and incentivize future threats. Besides, to hear the White House tell it, Trump might be inclined to declare a national emergency and still not re-open the government, fearing that to do so would hand Democrats a “win.” If he tried that, removing this standoff to the courtroom without resolving it in Congress by signing a clean spending bill, I think he really might see a veto override in both chambers.
Exit question: Is the president … looking for an amnesty deal?
Democrats are saying that DACA is not worth it and don’t want to include in talks. Many Hispanics will be coming over to the Republican side, watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2019
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