Half-Time! American public opinion midway through Trump’s (first?) term – and the race to 2020

By Lord Ashcroft

This piece was first published in the Mail on Sunday

It is two years today since Donald Trump entered the White House. That means we are exactly half way between the last presidential inauguration and the next one; whether it also proves to be the half-way point in his presidency remains to be seen. Does President Trump have two years left in office – or six?

As my research has found over the last two years, those who voted for him positively, rather than as the only way of avoiding President Hillary Clinton, remain solidly behind him. They point to a thriving economy stoked by tax cuts and deregulation, two conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, a newly combative approach to international affairs, willingness to reshape global trade deals in the interests of American jobs, and a tough line on immigration and border security. They like that he continues to say exactly what he (and often, they) think, and the outrage this causes in some quarters only adds to their enjoyment. And if his statements sometimes fall foul of the fact checkers, they see him as honest in what they regard as the more important sense that he is authentic and has set about doing the things he said he would: rare enough traits in an elected official. After years of feeling ignored or even despised by the political class, believing a President is speaking and acting for them is an almost exhilarating experience. And if some Trump voters view his personal ethics with distaste and wish he would calm down on Twitter, they decided at the election that other things mattered more, and this still holds true.

Those who did not support Trump think he has been every bit as bad as they expected, and worse (more…)

The midterms and beyond: my reflections on the next chapter of American politics

By Lord Ashcroft

For many months before America’s midterm elections the conventional wisdom was that newly enthused Democrats, Republicans embarrassed by the antics of President Trump, and non-voters spurred into action by indignation at the state of their country’s leadership, would join forces to sweep the GOP from Capitol Hill.

As we know, this did not quite come to pass. While the Democrats gained 40 districts to take control of the House of Representatives, the Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate, making a net gain of two seats in the upper chamber. Hardly the rout that Democrats had predicted – in fact, more like the tide flowing in both directions at once. What’s going on?

(more…)

What should happen next? What really matters? And how bad is this crisis? My new Brexit deal poll

By Lord Ashcroft

The vote has been deferred while the Prime Minister seeks “reassurances” from the EU, but her message to the House of Commons yesterday was clear – this is the only Brexit deal on the table, and there is no realistic prospect of substantially changing it. Theresa May’s campaign to sell the agreement to sceptical MPs and the public therefore continues. My last survey in late November found that the proposed deal had a cool reception, but with large numbers still to make up their minds. My latest 5,000-sample poll finds shows that more people now have an opinion – but with the balance tipping away from the deal rather than in its favour (more…)

My new Brexit poll: good for Theresa May, bad for her deal

By Lord Ashcroft

After perhaps the most difficult fortnight as Prime Minister, which is saying something, the news from my latest poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, is surprisingly mixed for Theresa May. Though she would probably say this is a side issue and she is focused on other things, her personal standing among voters is actually consolidated. She now leads Jeremy Corbyn by 15 points in the best Prime Minister stakes, and while “not sure” still leads the field over both leaders, the proportion naming Mrs. May has risen while Mr. Corbyn’s numbers have fallen, most dramatically among his own voters (more…)

‘I was like, we have to pick between these two? But honestly, I’m kind of pleasantly surprised’: my final pre-midterm focus groups in California

By Lord Ashcroft

The final round of our American research tour takes us to two districts in California, one in prosperous Orange County, and another further north around the city of Fresno. This is usually thought of as a heavily Democratic state, but the Republicans are defending crucial districts here that could decide whether they keep control of Congress this week. These include districts which elected Republican Congressmen two years ago but chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for President – how they choose this time will help determine the balance of power in Washington.

The migrant caravan making its way to the US from Honduras continued to loom large in voters’ minds as they began to make their minds up. Our groups’ reaction was a combination of sympathy for the families leaving their countries in search of a better life, and resolve that America’s borders – including California’s – had the be protected and the law enforced (more…)

New Ashcroft in America podcast – California

By Lord Ashcroft

In the last of my series of pre-midterm podcasts, voters in key districts in California discuss the latest political developments and consider their voting decisions in the elections that will determine the balance of power in Washington

Ashcroft in America podcast: my interviews with Bob Shrum and Reed Galen

By Lord Ashcroft

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft in America podcast I interview campaigning legend Bob Shrum about the future of the Democrats, how Hillary could have won, and his time working in British politics – and Reed Galen, who once worked for President Bush, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger but now helps run the Serve America Movement, which is aiming to end two-party dominance in Washington.

‘Why should I change what I think or do so I can win? What kind of win is that?’ My interview with Gov. John Kasich

By Lord Ashcroft

John Kasich is the Governor of Ohio, and won over 4 million votes in the battle to become the Republican nominee for President two years ago. He declined to endorse Donald Trump, and even decided not to attend the party’s nominating convention despite it being held in his own state. At the Governor’s Mansion in Columbus, Ohio’s capital, I asked him about his reflections on the bruising encounter that was the 2016 Republican primary.

“Well I don’t think it’s a very good way to pick President is to begin with (more…)

New Ashcroft in America podcast: my interview with John Kasich, Governor of Ohio

By Lord Ashcroft

In the latest edition of the Ashcroft in America podcast, Ohio Governor John Kasich talks to me about the bruising 2016 Republican primary, his criticisms of President Trump, the future of his party and his plans for 2020.

New Ashcroft in America podcast: Iowa and Minnesota

By Lord Ashcroft

Our US focus group tour takes us to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, where we listen to voters discuss the Saudis, the Honduras caravan, President Trump and his attitude to women, potential alternative presidential candidates, divisions in American politics, and how to vote in next month’s midterm elections.