Could Trump’s Erosion Become a Political Avalanche?—Sunday Political Brunch March 11

Sunday, March 11, 2018


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Mark Curtis

President Trump has had some bad weeks since moving into the White House, but this may be one of the worst. Amid staff resignations, plus personal and legal controversies, a politician never likes to see this stuff especially in a challenging mid-term election. Voters won’t just be electing many Senate and House members in November, they will also be expressing the national mood on the Trump Presidency so far. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“’Stormy’ Weather” – Washington, D.C. loves scandal, especially a sex scandal (whether true or not). There’s even a popular network TV show called, “Scandal.” When Watergate and the Clinton impeachment replaced fictional soap operas with real soap operas the public tuned-in in droves. So, when a porn star named “Stormy Daniels” now claims she had an affair with then citizen Trump in 2006, the news and social media went nuts. Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen says he paid Daniels $130,000 dollars of his own money to sign a non-disclosure agreement, ten days before Trump was elected President. Now the deal has gone south. This is probably going nowhere politically, but as always stay tuned for the entertainment value!

“Another Cohn Brother Controversy!” – No, not the Coen Brothers of movie fame (you know, Fargo, etc.) This week Michael Cohen was joined in the headlines by his “Trump-brother” Gary Cohn, who was the President‘s top economic advisor. Of course, they aren’t real brothers, and don’t even spell their names the same, but I couldn’t resist. Anyway, Gary Cohn resigned from the Trump administration because he does not support the President’s tariffs on imported steel, and the trade wars that might result. The President has lost another key advisor in a now long series of departures from the West Wing. The financial markets were not pleased and dropped. But by Friday, a new report showed 313,000 new jobs created in February and the markets once again soared!

“Keep Hope Alive!” – It’s bad enough President Trump lost his Communications Director and close confidant Hope Hicks last week. Now is he on the path to losing Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, too? Trump is said to be upset with Sanders for how she answered a question about porn star Stormy Daniels’ legal claim against him. Sanders said an arbitration regarding the Daniels case was won, "In the President’s favor.” That was an admission that the nondisclosure agreement with the President exists, marking the first time the White House acknowledged the President was involved somehow with Daniels – despite previous denials. Ouch!

“The Tweet Sessions” – President Trump continues to whack Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, though Sessions remains publicly loyal to the President. Trump tweeted his frustration: “Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren't they the subject of the investigation?" Trump asked. "Why didn't Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren't Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Session!" Truth be told Sessions has the safest job in Washington right now. Trump firing him would be a disaster. The late Attorney General Janet Reno got under the skin of the Clinton White House, but they had no choice by to keep her!

“Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” – The “New York Times” reported this week that the President had questioned a number of people who have spoken to investigators in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Some of it was mundane like Trump asking then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus if Mueller’s team was “nice” to him. The Times says two people were questioned by Trump about their statements to investigators. Look the case is radioactive. The last thing the President needs is any suggestion of witness tampering. It goes to his undisciplined nature. I am sure the White House Counsel’s Office told him explicitly to not discuss any issues with potential targets or witnesses, but he did it anyway. Unlike some of his “loose cannon” tweets, this could be legally serious.

“Postcards from the Edge of North Korea” – As the week ends, President Trump has apparently accepted an invitation to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for discussions about that country’s nuclear program, and presumably U.S. sanctions. While it’s not as pioneering as Nixon going to Russia and China in the 1970s, it does have the potential to be a breakthrough for the embattled President. A lot of people both domestically and overseas would rather see a peaceful solution to the tensions with the North rather than the United States being provoked to blowing Un and North Korea off the map. It could be a turning point for Trump.

“Why All of this Matters” – Late last year I wrote a column clearly indicating that Trump had far more top-ranking departures than any other President since 1960. A revolving door at the White House is not a sign of stability and does not engender confidence amongst the public, or the financial markets (where up until now Trump had been performing strongly). 2018 is an election year, and we’re about to head into a busy primary season, and then on to November. Republicans want a show of stability, normalcy, and reliability from the White House. Anything short of that could turn the steady erosion in the White House staff, into a Democratic political landslide in November.

If you had to give President Trump one bit of advice, what would it be? Just click the comment button at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, analyst and author now based at the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virgin and five surrounding states.


Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

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Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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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%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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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%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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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%

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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?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

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Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%


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