Shutdown Drags On, And The Numbers Get Worse For Trump

As the shutdown continues the numbers get worse for the President, but he doesn't seem to care.

With the government shutdown now in its twenty-seventh day, there really is nothing new to report from Washington. As has been the case for days now, there don’t appear to be any active negotiations going on among any of the relevant parties in Washington, D.C. The only significant development yesterday other than Speaker Pelosi seemingly repealing the invitation issued to the President to deliver the State of the Union Address on January 29th, it appears likely that both the House and the Senate will cancel the two-week recess that was scheduled to begin this weekend unless the shutdown is resolved beforehand, something that seems entirely unlikely. If anything, the current momentum appears to be that the shutdown will continue into the weekend and into next week and that Federal Government workers impacted by the shutdown will once again fail to receive a paycheck, their second of the month. In addition, the shutdown will continue to impact sectors of the economy well beyond the immediate universe of Federal workers, including contractors, suppliers, and the numerous national and local businesses, big and small, that indirectly rely on people who work for the Federal Government.

As Politico’s Ben Smith notes, this is causing some economic analysts to become increasingly worried about the shutdown leading to an economic slowdown:

The partial government shutdown was supposed to be a brief non-event for the economy. Now it’s starting to look like a serious crisis that could nudge the U.S. toward recession and threaten President Donald Trump’s economic message during his reelection campaign.

Across Wall Street, analysts are rushing out warnings that missed federal paychecks, dormant government contractors and shelved corporate stock offerings could push first-quarter growth close to or even below zero if the shutdown, which is wrapping up its fourth week, drags on much longer.

Their broader fear: The protracted impasse could convince consumers and businesses that the federal government will spend all of 2019 on the brink of crisis — whether on the border wall, trade with China or the debt limit. That could choke business investment and consumer spending, bringing an end to one of the longest economic expansions on record.

Recessions don’t just happen, after all. They are usually triggered by largely unforeseen shocks to the system, like the tech over-investment and dot-com crash of the late 1990s or the credit crisis of 2008. The government shutdown is not there yet. But the longer it drags on, the closer it gets.

“You can take the ruler out right now and calculate the exact impact from missed paychecks and contracts and you don’t have to go many months to get to zero growth,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank. “But this is not just some linear event. It can get exponentially worse in very unpredictable ways, from government workers quitting, to strikes, to companies not going public. It’s no longer just a political sideshow, it’s a real recession risk.”

Part of the reason for the increased alarm is that economists and Wall Street forecasters were already worried about the direction of the economy in 2019 as stimulus from the big tax-cut bill fades, growth slows outside the U.S. and Trump’s trade battles send shock waves through the stock market. Consensus estimates for growth this year were already down to under 3 percent before the shutdown.

Now some are slashing their estimates even further. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics this week said if the shutdown lasts through March it could push first-quarter growth below zero, a sentiment echoed by J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on the bank’s earnings call on Tuesday in which he implored Trump and Congress to make a deal.

Even the White House itself is admitting that the shutdown will have an impact on the economy that is not going to be reversed even if it were to end today. The President’s own Council of Economic Advisers, for example, acknowledged on Tuesday that the shutdown will have a real impact on economic growth, with the impact being roughly double what it first forecast. This could mean that first-quarter economic growth will end up below an annualized level of two percent. Given the fact that he had promised sustained growth at three percent or higher, and that he touted the fact that GDP had exceeded those numbers during the third quarter, President Trump is not going to like those numbers. And speaking of numbers, the shutdown is continuing to have a negative impact on the President’s job approval numbers. The RealClearPolitics average now puts his disapproval number at 55.7% and it’s rapidly heading upward, while the FiveThirtyEight average puts the number at 54.9%. Even Rasmussen, the President’s favorite poll, puts the President’s disapproval number at 55%. Additionally, polling continues to show that most Americans hold the President responsible for the shutdown and do not support the border wall. As the shutdown drags on, these numbers are only going to get worse, and this will be especially true if the economy is negatively impacted as the forecasters are predicting.

Of course, while these numbers are significant and would cause any normal politician and any normal President that they needed to act to bring an end to this shutdown, it’s worth remembering that the President is not a normal politician and hardly a normal President. The fact that most voters and most Americans appeared to be arrayed against him, or even that his party suffered its worst loss in the House of Representatives since the 1974 elections held in the wake of Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation, seems to have had any impact on him or his approach to governing. In his mind, as long as his base is happy then he’s doing the right thing and, so far at least, the same polls that show the public as a whole turning further against him show his base remaining relatively old. This can be seen in the same poll numbers I reference above. While there has been a significant jump in the President’s disapproval, his approval has only fallen from 42.5% to 41% according to RealClearPolitics, and from 42.2% to 40.2% according to FiveThirtyEight. This is essentially the same 40% floor the President has stayed above for most of his Presidency, and it indicates that his base remains loyal to him. As long as that’s the case, this President seems likely to stick to his current intransigence.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    This is essentially the same 40% floor the President has stayed above for most of his Presidency, and it indicates that his base remains loyal to him.

    It also indicates that you’re not going to find a source of weakness in his approval ratings.

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  2. Teve says:

    The RealClearPolitics average now puts his disapproval number at 55.7% and it’s rapidly heading upward, while the FiveThirtyEight average puts the number at 54.9%. Even Rasmussen, the President’s favorite poll, puts the President’s disapproval number at 55%. Additionally, polling continues to show that most Americans hold the President responsible for the shutdown and do not support the border wall.

    And mattbernius mentioned in the Pelosi thread,

    “With the 2020 presidential election already underway, 57 percent of registered voters said they would definitely vote against President Donald Trump, according to the latest poll from the PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist.”

    Barring some miracle Trump is cooked for 2020 so the interesting questions become:

    1 Will trump still be president in 2020?
    2 if not, are people blaming President Pence for the whole thing too?
    3 if he is still President, will he be the GOP nominee in 2020?
    4 if not, who will be?

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    Trump won’t be running in 2020, that’s my guess.

  4. CSK says:

    Trump has maintained that his approval rating would be 75% if The Fake News didn’t lie about him all the time. I suspect his fan club believes this to be true, and he may have convinced himself of it as well.

  5. Kathy says:

    I know neither El Cheeto nor the GOP are negotiating in good faith, or at all. But what are the Democrats doing on that front? They could state what they’d take in exchange for how much wall funding.

    To be fair, I get that there’s a dominance game going on, and the Democrats want to make it clear that, unlike the Republicans, they are not Dennison’s flunkies. But the more they are seen as trying to solve the impasse, the more people will blame Trump for the current mess, and for the sequelae of messes that will follow.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    They could state what they’d take in exchange for how much wall funding.

    They’ve stated there won’t be negotiation until the government is reopened. The subject isn’t open for negotiation as long as the shutdown is being used as leverage.

    If your kid throws a tantrum and won’t go to bed unless you let them eat 200 oreos, you don’t compromise by letting them eat 100 oreos.

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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve:

    if not, who will be?

    Jeff Flake? Mitt Romney? Devin Nunes?

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: They can not be seen surrendering to hostage taking. If that were to happen, we’d be right back here again in 6 months time.

  9. Teve says:

    While there has been a significant jump in the President’s disapproval, his approval has only fallen from 42.5% to 41% according to RealClearPolitics, and from 42.2% to 40.2% according to FiveThirtyEight.

    Trump’s RCP polling average immediately before the 2016 election was 43.6%, and he barely lucked in through the electoral college bank shot. Each % point below that represents 1,260,000 votes. Trump “won” with -3 million votes. Could he win with -4.26 million votes or -5.52 million votes? No way.

    And is McConnell figuring in that the shutdown can’t go on for very much longer without triggering a recession? How does he think his senators and his Republican president are going to fare in a shitty economic environment considering how abysmally they did in a good economic environment 3 months ago?

  10. James Pearce says:

    @CSK:

    Trump has maintained that his approval rating would be 75% if The Fake News didn’t lie about him all the time.

    If he had a more conciliatory approach, and Americans circa 2019 weren’t so full of their own shit, his approval ratings would be much higher. 75%? No way.

    But they’d be in normal ranges.

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  11. drj says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Trump won’t be running in 2020, that’s my guess.

    He has to. Once he stops being president, he’ll go to jail.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Pearce:

    It also indicates that you’re not going to find a source of weakness in his approval ratings.

    What does it smell like? That far up his fat orange ass?
    From an NPR/Marist poll out this morning:
    Down significantly among suburban men, a net-positive approval rating of 51-to-39 percent to a net-negative of 42 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove. That’s a net change of down 18 percentage points;
    Down a net of 13 points among white evangelicals, from 73-to-17 percent approve to 66-to-23 percent approve;
    Down a net of 10 points among Republicans, from 90-to-7 percent approve to 83-to-10 percent
    Down marginally among white men without a college degree, from 56-to-34 percent approve to 50-to-35 percent approve, a net change downward of 7 points.

  13. Teve says:

    @drj: wasn’t Berlusconi or Chirac in a similar position at one point?

  14. drj says:

    @Teve:

    Chirac was given immunity for the duration of his presidency. But afterwards, he was put on trial and handed a suspended sentence in relation to corruption charges dating back to his term as mayor of Paris.

  15. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I hope you’re right.

    But if he doesn’t, he’ll get there the Trumpian way(*). Meaning he’ll first make a BIG deal about running, he’ll warn off others in the GOP from running against him, he’ll claim there doesn’t even need to be an election because he’ll obviously get 100% of the EC, then halfway through the primary season, after he’s belittled, disparaged, and insulted every GOP challenger, he’ll say he’s not running.

    But two or three days later, he’ll go back on the race, make grandiose claims again, then drop out again after a few weeks of terrible polling.

    (*) Trumpian way: Wronger than wrong.

  16. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Down marginally among white men without a college degree, from 56-to-34 percent approve to 50-to-35 percent approve, a net change downward of 7 points.

    This is the politically significant one, since it means his base is finally starting to turn on him.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    Americans circa 2019 weren’t so full of their own shit

    Pot, I’d like you to meet my friend, Kettle.

  18. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Trump is just extrapolating from his numbers among Republicans and can’t figure out why there would be such a sharp departure. Under normal circumstances, he’d have a point, but the body politic is so fractured at the moment that polarization plays a very strong role.

  19. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    If Trump had a more conciliatory approach, he’d lose his base. The fact that he’s a loudmouthed oaf and a buffoon is precisely why they adore him. He’s just like them, they say. You should know that by now.

  20. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I understand that. But I’m puzzled they haven’t stated their position, even if they’ll wait until the baby tires himself out throwing a tantrum first.

  21. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    What does it smell like? That far up his fat orange ass?

    Preparation H and sandalwood.

    (Probably. I mean, I don’t know.)

    @Neil Hudelson: When Cardi B stops being the voice of reason, please let me know.

    @CSK:

    The fact that he’s a loudmouthed oaf and a buffoon is precisely why they adore him.

    Close. The fact that he’s a loudmouthed oaf and a buffoon who leaves the left discombobulated and unhinged is why they love him.

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  22. Franklin says:

    the same polls that show the public as a whole turning further against him show his base remaining relatively old

  23. Teve says:

    Tea Berry-Blue
    @teaberryblue
    ·
    20h
    Between AOC being ‘too young’ and Pelosi being ‘too old’ I’m getting the sense that for some people the only right age for a woman in politics is ‘male.’

  24. Kathy says:

    In this shut down, Dennison is like the guy who sets up a bomb in a crowded place, then phones in the threat, all so he can “find” it and defuse it, and be hailed as a hero. It goes along his narcissistic personality disorder (oh, it’s self-evident).

  25. Jen says:

    he’ll warn off others in the GOP from running against him

    I don’t know if this has been tried in other states, but here in NH the state GOP tried to change its bylaws to provide an endorsement in the primary, and other states are considering measures to block primary challengers to Trump.

    So not just “warn off”–there’s a concerted effort by some RNC members to block challengers.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I agree. Although that Evangelical one really surprised me too. These people gave money to Jim and Tammy Faye Baker! Gullible doesn’t begin to describe it…

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    Preparation H and sandalwood

    Now I’m going to be sick to my stomach the rest of the day….

  28. Hal_10000 says:

    I was just talking to some NASA postdocs. They will not get their next paycheck. They are not eligible for back pay. Their health insurance will disappear at the end of the month. These are bright scientists right out of grad school that the feds made a three-year commitment to and and are now having to back out because of a Presidential temper tantrum.

  29. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan: You know what’s gonna make me sick to my stomach all day? The experiences of Hal’s NASA buddies.

  30. Teve says:

    @Hal_10000: Everything Trump Touches Dies.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @James Pearce:

    If he had a more conciliatory approach, and Americans circa 2019 weren’t so full of their own shit, his approval ratings would be much higher.

    So close, and then you blame Americans.

    Donald Trump has done nothing to reach out to Americans outside his base. That, along with the treason, is why he is so hated.

  32. PJ says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Trump won’t be running in 2020, that’s my guess.

    He’ll run in 2020. Twice.

    In the Presidential election, and then on November 4, 2020, Trump will start running towards Russia.

    He’ll have a cheeseburger induced heart attack after about 200 yards or so.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    The fact that he’s a loudmouthed oaf and a buffoon who leaves the left discombobulated and unhinged is why they love him.

    That simply must be why Democrats picked up 40 Congressional seats in the last election…because they are just so discombobulated and unhinged