Sunday 22 September 2019

Trump's hopes of mid-term election success are rising

US President Donald Trump. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump's hopes of avoiding a Republican wipe-out at the mid-term elections have markedly improved on the back of foreign policy successes and a booming economy.

One poll has put the Democrats just three points ahead of the Republicans, down from a 16-point lead in February, with the US president's approval ratings on the rise.

The turnaround in the North Korea stand-off, with a meeting between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un scheduled and three US detainees returned, has confounded the critics.

There are also signs that enthusiasm among Trump supporters for getting out to vote in the November congressional elections is on the rise - this will be crucial for turnout.

Republican strategists say they are feeling much more upbeat about their prospects for keeping control of the Senate.

Some believe voters are taking little interest in the Russian election-meddling investigation and White House personnel controversies that dominate coverage from Washington.

Instead, they now think the president will get the credit for the growing economy - expanding at 2.3pc a year, according to recent figures - and a low unemployment rate.

The optimism is a far cry from last autumn, when Mr Trump had failed to pass any major legislation after several months of White House chaos and a plummeting approval rating.

However, in the last six months he has forced through a $1.5 trillion (€1.24trn) tax cut, delivered on campaign promises - like scrapping the Iran deal and implementing steel tariffs - and made progress on calming the North Korean nuclear situation.

Republicans currently hold majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the two law-making bodies that make up the US Congress.

While they are still expected to lose control of the House to the Democrats at the November mid-terms, hopes are still high for holding the Senate and keeping House losses to a minimum.

A recent CNN poll, asking voters which party they would back in congressional elections, showed the Democrats leading the Republicans by just three percentage points.

Some 47pc said Democrat and 44pc Republican - a major change from February, when 54pc said Democrat and 38pc Republican.


Mr Trump's approval rating is also at its highest point since May 2017, although it remains lower than most past US presidents at the same point in their first terms.

Tax cuts have helped us, jobs are good, the economy is doing good and the stock market is relatively strong, according to one Republican strategist.

He said: "The images of the hostages coming back from North Korea gives us a sense of international stability and security, whereas people might have had some trepidation six months ago.

"The Washington bubble can get lost in the topics that they feel like covering rather than the issues the average person feels."

A senior Republican aide in Congress said: "What the Democrats really need but they don't have is some national issue and message."

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