If you’re involved in politics in any way, it is always important to distinguish between what matters, what’s important and what will have concrete effects, effects on political outcomes, elections, and so forth. Often they overlap. But that is not always the case.
Take a couple examples. Unless there is a shattering revelation in the Trump/Russia investigations, the story is not likely to break Trump or his political coalition. Will it cause damage over time? Yes. But it won’t break him.
Similarly, advocacy and activism against Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies is similarly unlikely to do so. It is hugely important to who we are as a country and the fate of millions of Americans and millions more immigrants. It has vast political traction but it largely lines up with our existing political divisions. For this reasons, in electoral terms it is not likely to be a game-changing issue.
Health care is different. The political traction of health care is difficult to overstate or compare to any other in politics. That’s what has always made it such a volatile and explosive political issue.
This is an update from SurveyMonkey’s on-going polling out from last night.
Here’s Gallup’s running approval numbers for Trump from yesterday. These come as the scale of the impact of the Trumpcare proposal was coming into view. But it actually includes only a sliver of polling from after Monday’s CBO report.
These are momentary readings of course. But they illustrate the central point. Health care politics resonate like nothing else. They cut across President Trump’s coalition like a scythe. If you’re looking for the political battle that will damage President Trump and his party it is Obamacare repeal. Of course, there are few issues before the political nation today that will more affect the lives of people across the country, especially the most vulnerable, the least politically powerful. So there’s no trade-off between ‘politics’ and things that effect people’s lives.
The GOP and President Trump are now woefully exposed with a deeply unpopular reform, deep in enemy territory with little hope of an organized retreat. The Senate GOP wants to go left; the House GOP wants to go right. And you’re already seeing a growing chorus from the feral Trump right that Paul Ryan has led Trump into a trap and he, Ryan, should be forced to pay the price.
This can break Trump if his opponents can organize effectively, maybe even if they can’t.