California Republicans’ hopes for re-election in 2018 may rest on separating themselves from the unpopular President Trump. A new poll shows that’s not happening as the year begins, at least in two of the state’s most competitive congressional districts.
Majorities of likely voters in the districts of Republican Reps. Dana #Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and Steve #Knight of Lancaster aren’t happy with Trump and are disinclined to vote for their representative’s re-election.
The polling, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) in mid-January, finds that support for the two Republicans’ re-election is highly correlated with voter opinions about the president’s job approval, their 2016 presidential vote, and GOP control of Congress.
Rohrabacher’s web of ties to Russia have drawn the attention of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team. But his connection to Trump may be equally, if not more, damaging. Despite a Republican voter registration edge in Rohrabacher’s district, over half of likely voters there disapprove of the president. Knight faces a similar dynamic.
Among those voters in Rohrabacher’s district who disapprove of Trump, 86 percent are not inclined to support their congressman’s re-election bid. In Knight’s district, that figure rises to 90 percent.
Just 38 percent of likely voters approve of Rohrabacher’s job performance compared to 50 percent who disapprove, including 38 percent who disapprove strongly. Knight fares marginally worse. Thirty-seven percent of likely voters in his district approve of the second-term congressman’s job performance and 53 percent disapprove – 40 percent strongly.
“The situation nationally seems to have a huge impact” on two men’s standing in their districts, said IGS Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. “It’s not just local issues that are affecting voters.”
That’s bad news for Republicans in California, where two-thirds of registered voters disapprove of the president. 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won seven GOP congressional districts in California that her party is now gunning for in 2018. Skeptics point out that Trump is not a good fit for those districts, many of them affluent suburbs, but argue their Republican representatives are better in tune with constituents. Events in Washington, however, appears to be shaping local attitudes.
In Knight’s district, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and even Rohrabacher’s, where Republicans outnumber Democrats, certain Trump policies are proving extremely unpopular.
More than 60 percent of likely voters in both districts oppose the White House proposal to expand offshore drilling off the coast of California. And roughly two-thirds support legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to this county as children, also known as “dreamers.”