Nancy Pelosi won the first round in the showdown over wall funding. She said “no.” She stuck to “no” during the ensuing lengthy shutdown. President Trump ended the shutdown without getting wall funding.
Here in the Washington, D.C. area, everyone seems to believe Pelosi also won (and Trump lost) the battle for public opinion. But did she?
Trump’s approval rating was at 43% in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, with 54% disapproving of his job performance. That was the same mark as in a December survey taken 10 days before the start of the shutdown. The latest survey was conducted over a four-day period that ended Jan. 23, two days before Mr. Trump backed off his demand for border wall funding in what was widely viewed as a victory for congressional Democrats.
Maybe Trump’s rating declined when he ended the shutdown, but I don’t assume it did. It’s even possible that his rating improved because he seemed, in comparison to Pelosi, like the adult. In any event, the WSJ/NBC poll is evidence that the shutdown wasn’t hurting Trump in the court of public opinion (as opposed to the court of Republican insiders).
What about Pelosi’s ratings? The same poll showed that her approval rating dropped by six points during the shutdown.
Maybe Pelosi’s rating improved after she won the first round, but I don’t assume it did. Her preening victory lap with Chuck Schumer may have turned off at least as many swing voters as it impressed.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll is just one measure of public opinion on the subject. Maybe other polls have yielded (or will yield) different results.
But this is a reputable poll by an outfit with no allegiance to Trump. It should hearten Trump as he considers whether to go another round on the wall, either via a second shutdown or, perhaps more likely, unilateral executive action.