Archive for the 'Donald Trump' Category


So what do we make of today and what are the political implications?

Friday, July 13th, 2018

What a strange day with several massive demonstrations in London, Trump describing many of his comments in the Sun this morning as fake news and the events at Chequers and Windsor castle.

The sheer scale of the protests appears quite exceptional and, of course, there is another round of them tomorrow.

This, of course, was in sharp contrast to the pomp and Ceremony of the President’s meeting with the Queen.

I find it difficult to draw conclusions and maybe we need to wait before coming to a verdict apart from the fact that Trump appears to have no concept of how to behave.

It is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that in less than a year’s time the WH2020 White House race will be well under way.

Mike Smithson


As the two leaders prepare for lunch Betfair punters give Trump about 40% chance of re-election TMay a 62% chance of surviving 2018

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Data and charts from

Mike Smithson


Best of luck today Theresa – you are going to need it

Friday, July 13th, 2018

With the American President, Donald Trump, on the second day of his visit to the UK the Sun is carrying an extraordinary interview with the President in which he gives his views on how Mrs May should tackle Brexit.

Views of the occupant of the White House are so negative in the UK that I wonder whether this sort of bombastic approach might just attract a lot of sympathy to Mrs May as she seeks to steer a course through one of the most challenging situations for a prime minister that we have seen in decades.

The Trump approach appears to be to “stir shit” wherever he goes and it is hard to see how the US, or the Western alliance benefits by this.

This biting Tweet is from Robert Reich who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Here is another extraordinary Tweet coming out of the Trump visit – From ex-deputy PM Nick Clegg.

Mike Smithson


If Trump bothers to read UK polls he won’t be pleased about how negatively he’s viewed in the UK

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Both him & Putin viewed with almost the same level of unfavourably

The football is over bar the third place play off and over the next couple of days the visit by the US President will dominate the media

To mark this YouGov have just issued latest favourability ratings with a focus on Trump and Putin. I doubt if the latter gives a monkeys but from what we know about Trump this would infuriate him.

What a tough time TMay has had over the past few days. Everything seems to be coming together for her – one problem after another.

Also today YouGov had LAB back in the lead.

Mike Smithson


Across the UK political divide voters regard Theresa May as a much better leader than Donald Trump

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Comparing him with the PM

There’s little enthusiasm someone like Trump as British PM

To coincide with the Trump visit the latest ICM/Guardian poll has a series of findings examining the attitudes of British voters to the current incumbent at the White House. The responses to two of the questions are featured above with breakdown on party support.

The top one, comparing Trump with TMay, is interesting in that generally backers of parties other than the Tories are reluctant to favour the PM. Not so when Trump is the one being compared. Across the divide faced with a choice TMay gets overwhelming support.

To me the Tory split is particularly interesting especially in view of the huge divide that there is within the Tory party on the approach to Brexit.

The second one seeks to get reaction to having someone like Trump as the occupant of Number 10. Again the views are very clear.

Mike Smithson


If Betfair punters are right the Republicans are set to hold onto the House in the November midterms

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018


This would be a big victory for Trump

While we are all focused on the Tories and Brexit in the UK the biggest political betting market at the moment continues to be the above one on the US midterm elections and, particularly, whether the Republicans can hold on to the House.

The current RCP polling average has the Democrats 6.4% ahead but that’s not thought to be big enough to see change. In many states the congressional district boundaries very much favour the Republicans.

There is a heavy incumbency advantage but in a normal US electoral cycle the first midterms in a new President’s term tend to go against his party. Holding on would be a huge victory for the White House and would mean there’s less possibility of some of Trump’s controversial moves being impeded.

The Senate looks set to remain in the GOP’s hands because of the seats that are up this year. There are 100 members of the Senate and roughly a third come up for elections every two years.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s big deal: the Supreme Court

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Wikimedia Commons

November permitting, buying off evangelicals with nominations could change the future of America

Donald Trump regards himself as the great deal-maker. As president, there’s not an awful lot of evidence to support his contention but then he’s never much been one for being overly worried about the evidence. Nearly a year and a half into his term, there’s no wall, nor any realistic prospect of one, his immigration reforms have resulted in concentration camps for children separated from their parents, he’s started trade wars but failed to reach the renegotiated trade deals promised, and Obamacare remains in place. In foreign policy, his most striking intervention – the talks with North Korea’s Kim – has brought that regime out of the cold while getting little but warm words in return. Trump has delivered on tax cuts – but then passing tax cuts for the rich is easy for members of Congress when if you’re not one of them yourself, then your key donors most certainly are.

But there is one area where his administration has been extremely effective: in making appointments to the Federal courts. No president has appointed more federal appellate judges in his first year (12), to which he’s added a further 9 since and has another 13 pending before the Senate.

That’s in eighteen months: Obama only appointed 55 federal appellate judges in eight years. These are, of themselves, highly influential appointments given how few cases progress beyond their courts, and Trump’s nominees have been reliably conservative.

Even so, the Great Prize remains the Supreme Court, which is in many ways the most powerful institution in the United States: it is not accountable to anyone, appointments are for life, and whereas the Supreme Court can overturn or strike down an Act of Congress, Executive Order or lower court decision, nothing short of a constitutional amendment (or later Supreme Court decision), can overturn decisions made the collective apex of the judiciary.*

So far, Trump has only made one Supreme Court nomination, and that courtesy of Senate leader Mitch McConnell who refused to allow the Senate to hear Barack Obama’s nomination for the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia. Scalia, however, was firmly on the conservative wing of the Court, so his replacement by Gorsuch didn’t tip the fine balance between liberals and conservatives (whereas had Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, been approved, it would have produced a clear liberal majority).

By contrast, Trump does now have his own opportunity to mould the Court more to his liking – or perhaps more realistically, more to the liking of his electoral coalition. Trump himself would probably like to nominate someone who takes a highly activist view of the scope of Executive authority but there was a reason though why so many evangelicals voted for a man with little interest in either the Bible’s words or its teachings: abortion. Trump was once pro-choice but rare is the opinion with him that runs counter to his interests – and the votes of millions are very much his interests. They backed him because he said he would deliver on upholding a pro-life position (and pro-gun and other related stances, but abortion is the most important). And he is delivering: lots of young judges who will last decades, confirmed against regular opposition (and also overwhelmingly white and male). That is his Big Deal.

Which is where the retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy comes in. Unlike Scalia, Kennedy is as close to a swing vote as the Court has. Replacing him with someone reliably conservative would secure a narrow but firmer 5-4 conservative majority.

Replacing him, however, is not quite that simple. The Republicans have only a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and one of those 51 is John McCain who is both seriously ill (and hence often absent), and no friend of the Trump administration. Trying to tip the balance of the Court in such circumstances will be difficult, even with a highly qualified nominee.

That produces a tricky tactical decision. The Republicans are only defending nine of the 33 senate seats up for election and following the uptick in Trump’s rating, might reasonably hope to make gains, particularly if they can take attention away from DC. There’s potentially a good reason to delay the vote and use the Supreme Court nomination and abortion as the kind of practical wedge issue Karl Rove used so effectively for George W Bush – though going easy now in the hope of an easier ride later is a strategy that carries risks.

If the Republicans can retain and even strengthen their grip, that opens up their opportunity to change the country. There may well be two other Supreme Court vacancies coming up before long. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 85 years old and while she has been clear in her intention not to step down any time soon, she’s also had periods of ill health in the past. Similarly, Stephen Breyer turns 80 in August and while he too has given no indication of wanting to retire, 80 is the recent average age at which justices have done so (though Justice Stevens retired in 2010 at the age of 90).

The crucial point, however, is that both Ginsberg and Breyer are on the liberal wing of the Court. If Trump and a GOP-controlled Senate can replace them (and Kennedy) with conservatives, not only will it produce a 7-2 conservative majority but if, as with Gorsuch, relatively young justices are appointed, it would likely mean a conservative majority into at least the 2030s and possibly well beyond: it’s not unreasonable to think that Gorsuch will still be on the Court in 2050.

    Such a court would have a huge impact on America’s politics, not just in civil matters such as potentially outlawing abortion but in curtailing the state’s (or, more accurately, Congress and the president’s) reach and overturning legislation such as Obamacare

.These are, perhaps, the stakes being fought for this autumn – far beyond the ins and outs of office, the soul of a nation is at stake.

If there is irony to be found in such a crucial thing, it’s this: for all the talk of Trump’s court appointments being his legacy, the reality is that he is little more than a willing cipher in it. The legacy is not his; it’s that of the evangelicals who from time to time insert and assert their influence into US politics (as with, say, the Prohibition movement). Nonetheless, irrespective of who is the impetus for these appointments, their impact – if the nominations are sustained at the current rate – will be profound.

David Herdson

* Technically, this isn’t quite true. Congress can alter the size of the court, so it could, in a hard stand-off, approve sufficient new justices of a given slant to render the former court outgunned. There’s also the accountability of impeachment, though only one Supreme Court justice has ever been impeached (in 1804), and he was acquitted. In reality though, neither of these mechanisms is likely to be effective as Franklin Roosevelt found when, at the height of his power in 1937 and with massive Democrat majorities in Congress, he didn’t have the support to expand the Court so as to reverse rulings against New Deal legislation.


Trump’s Gallup approval rating drops a net minus nine in a week

Monday, June 25th, 2018

The immigration clampdown is hurting him and possibly his party

We’ve now got the first Gallup approval ratings for the period entirely after the immigration clampdown that saw children being forcibly separated from their parents.

His approval number is down 4 points in a week to 41% while his disapproval jumped 5 points to 55%. This reflects the hammering he has been getting in the media and even from parts of his own family.

What made this particularly challenging for him were the TV pictures and sounds of the crying children on being taken away from their parents. It was a lot harder for the normal Trump response of “fake news” – the coverage made this heart-rending.

He has found it very hard in the past to deal with issues when the TV coverage, like on the size of the crowds on his inauguration didn’t match the spin.

The big question is the political impact in the run up to this November’s midterms particularly as it was beginning to look as though the Democrats hope of taking the house were looking less likely.

Mike Smithson