Horowitz: State of the Union Provides Trump With an Opportunity to Reset
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
While it is important to heed those well-taken cautions when gauging the impact of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address, which he will deliver tonight, the speech still provides an opportunity to build on some small upward momentum and begin to alter the perception of most voters that he is a failed, divisive and dysfunctional president.
The continued good economic news, combined with the successful adoption of tax cut legislation, which is becoming more popular, has given Trump a bit of a boost in his approval ratings. The economy is one area where right or wrong most voters give Trump some credit. This provides a launching point for a reset-where he actually attempts to communicate and govern in a way designed to reach and benefit all the people-not just his relatively small base.
Two upcoming issues, which if press reports are accurate will be highlighted in tonight’s speech, give him an opportunity to reach out to the broad middle of the electorate—if he so chooses. On immigration, if he is willing to embrace a more limited deal that includes just legalization for the dreamers and funding for the border wall, there is a potential win—one that will be supported by the overwhelming majority of voters. Insisting on the restrictions on legal immigration outlined in his current proposal will likely make reaching agreement any time soon—if ever—impossible. Similarly, investing in upgrading our aging infrastructure is a broadly popular issue that has the added political advantage of generating new relatively high paying jobs for people without a college education.
President Trump has the opportunity to frame his second year of office around these kinds of issues that appeal more broadly as he continues to tout the strength of the American economy. For this change of approach to be truly effective, however, will require a change in his tone and behavior. In other words, no matter how optimistic or unifying the speech is tonight, if the president reverts to his usual divisive rhetoric and un-presidential behavior any positive reviews will have a very limited impact and almost no shelf life.
But despite the train wreck that best describes the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump still has the opportunity for a reset and redefinition. I am not optimistic that this will occur, but the opportunity is still there. Tonight could be the beginning of something new and better. As an American, I am willing to suspend disbelief and put my wishes ahead of my better judgment.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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