Heading into Russia hearings, Donald Trump’s approval rating sinks toward Richard Nixon’s exit range

The House Intelligence Committee begins its public hearings today on Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, and while the House investigation may or may not go anywhere, the parallel Senate Intelligence Committee investigation seems likely to do far more harm to Trump’s popular standing. So it couldn’t come as worse news for Trump that his Gallup approval rating just sunk to its lowest point to date, putting him in danger of Richard Nixon’s exit range.

From the start I’ve been asked what it would take to get rid of Donald Trump. Dating back to the day after the election, my answer has consistently been the same: an approval rating in the twenties. Back when Watergate was getting worse for Nixon by the day, he managed to fend off the wolves until his approval rating finally planted itself below the thirty percent mark. At that point it meant he had basically lost the entire American middle, and he was so toxically unpopular that even his own political allies had to begin actively shunning him just so they could survive. No longer able to function, Nixon resigned.

The parameters for Donald Trump aren’t all that much different. There’s already more than enough evidence for Congress to impeach and remove Trump based on his Russia scandal, or his Trump University fraud, even his phony wiretap accusation, or really anything they want. It’s entirely up the discretion of the House to decide what an impeachable offense is, and then it’s entirely up to the Senate to decide whether that offense is a removable one. But the Republican majority is never going to even consider doing so, as long as Trump’s weak approval rating hangs in there just well enough to give them faint hope that he might claw his way back.

So it’s a big deal that Donald Trump’s Gallup approval rating has bottomed out today at 37%, just as the first Trump-Russia hearings are getting underway. If the broader attention brought to his Russia scandal serves to drive his approval rating another eight points lower, he’ll be in the twenties. At that point he’ll have no allies in government left, because no one from either party is willing to stand next to a president who’s that radioactive.

If Donald Trump’s approval rating does drop below 30%, the GOP will have to seriously evaluate whether the humiliation of having to impeach and remove him might be preferable to having to enter the 2018 midterms with him still in office. And even if the Republicans don’t take him down, he’ll have zero political muscle remaining, and no chance of rebounding in popularity. If Trump drops into the twenties, his only two options will be to be a lame duck or resign. Just ask Nixon. Contribute to Palmer Report


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Bill Palmer is the founder and editor in chief of the political news outlet Palmer Report




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