Mellman: Don’t bet on better numbers

Mellman: Don’t bet on better numbers
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Desperately trying to quell the panic growing in their guts and in their ranks, Republicans are spinning themselves dizzy trying to explain why President Trump’s approval rating will improve before the midterm.

Their desperation arises from the president’s extraordinarily low approval rating and the impact it will likely have on the 2018 elections.

President Trump’s approval rating is below 40 percent in the RealClearPolitics average and lower than that in HuffPollster’s calculation. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight pegs it at an even more sickly 37 percent.

Those numbers induce panic among Republicans because there’s a strong relationship between a president’s approval rating and his party’s midterm performance.

Only three times in the history of polling has a president been below 40 percent at the midterm — and those presidents lost between 29 and 55 House seats.

Even higher midterm approval ratings have brought about massive losses. Presidents Clinton, Obama and Johnson were in the mid-40s when Democrats lost 53, 63 and 47 seats, respectively.

On average, presidents below 50 percent approval have lost 37 House seats.

Republicans understand this, if only intuitively. Hence the rising panic.

Instead of chanting “serenity now,” a la George Costanza, they’re attempting to spin their way to calm by offering a number of arguments, some of which contain just a kernel of truth, while quietly thanking their maker for the gerrymander and praying it’s enough.

First, Republicans maintain the midterms are over a year away and a lot can happen. There’s that kernel of truth.

But, historically, the trend between this point and the midterm is downward, not upward. On average, presidential approval ratings have dropped over 12 points between this time in…

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