BRUMMETT ONLINE: Trump versus Trump

Posted: November 1, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

The only person who might have a chance to beat President Trump in Arkansas is President Trump.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman is the man who isn’t there in Arkansas politics.

And Arkansas Razorback football isn’t nearly what it used to be.

That’s what I glean from interesting if ultimately inconsequential new numbers produced by Talk Business and Politics and Hendrix College in the latest installment of their occasional automated poll of Arkansas political attitudes.

The headline finding — because it’s about Trump, and Trump is a headline personified — goes as follows: The preposterous second-place president who carried Arkansas with 60 percent of the vote not 12 months ago has experienced steady two-point and three-point declines in his approval-disapproval rating in the state since then in this TBP-Hendrix poll.

It’s to the point that, last week, his approval rating was down to 47.5 and his disapproval rating up to 45.5.

Does that mean he is at risk of not carrying the state?

Oh, no. It only means that he is about to run into himself. It only means that his buffoonery becomes steadily more evident even to those who voted for him — and, I’d wager, would still.

He was elected president by the decisive votes of people who told exit pollsters they didn’t trust his competence. They simply hated Hillary Clinton and modern liberalism and wanted to turn American politics upside down.

The same would happen today in Arkansas. A general election would pit Trump against not his truly formidable foe, his incompetent self, but a pitiable and smear-inviting Democrat.

Here’s what would happen in an election today in Arkansas, because it’s how contemporary Arkansas politics works: The Democrat, any Democrat, would get lathered with guns, gays, transgender persons, boys in the girls’ bathroom, abortion, Pelosi, Schumer, Hillary and Obama. And many in Trump’s 45.5 percent disapproval rating would vote for him over the pitiable Democrat because of guns, gays, transgender persons, boys in the girls’ bathrooms, abortion, Pelosi, Schumer, Hillary and Obama.

As in sports competition, political races are all about match-ups. As in the Arkansas-Ole Miss game, political match-ups tend to be won by the competitor blundering less toward the end.

That’s why U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman shouldn’t worry much about their anemic positive-to-negative ratings in this poll — 46-39 for Cotton and 35-36 for the slightly underwater Boozman.

Republican candidates don’t have to offer personal appeal or worthiness. It’s not about them, which is lucky for them. They can poll weakly against themselves and roll on to re-election.

All they need is the “R” by their names and not to be the “D.” All they need is to say — altogether now — guns, gays, transgender persons, boys in the girls’ bathroom, abortion, Pelosi, Schumer, Hillary and Obama.

No matter how personally unexceptional any individual Arkansas Republican officeholder is — and there are several plenty unexceptional — they can never fail if they run on guns, gays … and, well, you know.

The general problem for Republicans in Arkansas right now — when judged on their own — is the poll’s finding that only 35 percent of respondents believe the country to be on the right track and 57 percent believe it to be on the wrong track. Cotton’s 46-39 approval-to-disapproval rating is essentially the same as Boozman’s at 35-36 except that fewer respondents know who Boozman is. His approval rating is the same as the number of woefully addled souls who say the country is on the right back.

Boozman’s disapproval rating is close to Cotton’s on general principles of voter unhappiness. But his approval rating is 11 points lower than Cotton’s because respondents are saying … uh, Boozman, can’t quite place him, can’t see a face. Is he that undertaker over at Stuttgart?

Finally, in perhaps the most culturally jarring finding of the poll, there was the matter of expanding apathy about the fading religion of the state, meaning Razorback football.

In this poll taken a few days after the Razorbacks got beat so brutally by Auburn that it became funny, Arkansans who once lived and died by Razorback pride told the survey they didn’t much give a rip.

Should Bret Bielema — he’s the coach — be fired? That was a poll question.

Here’s what came back: 44 percent didn’t care. The rest were inconsequentially divided.

“Woo pig sooie” used to mean “I am somebody.” Now it means “Bielema? Maybe he’s the one who is the undertaker over at Stuttgart.”

P.S. — Gov. Asa Hutchinson is all right, but just that, with 45 percent approval and 26.5 percent disapproval. That’s because he’s on the state level, not federal, which is more disdained. And 28.5 percent had no opinion, perhaps suspecting Asa was one of three undertakers in Stuttgart.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.


You’re “right-on” as usual John! Keep it up, we need some voices in the wilderness so we don’t give up on the democratic principals that DID make this Country great.

Posted by: rk1985

November 1, 2017 at 8:50 a.m. ( | suggest removal )