California insiders: Trump won’t help the GOP here, but he’s not going anywhere

It’s not news that President Trump isn’t popular in California: a July survey found voters here disapprove of him by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Still,  he’s wildly popular among most Republicans, so a presidential visit to the Golden State would surely provide an electoral lift to the state’s struggling GOP candidates, right?

Wrong, says California’s political class. In a survey of state political insiders, we asked which surrogate campaigner would be more helpful to the candidates of his own party: President Trump or former President Obama.

Roughly two-thirds of Target Book Insider Track Survey respondents said that the bigger political boost would come from Obama. Earlier this month, he made a tour through California’s swing congressional districts, stumping for Democratic candidates including Harley Rouda, Katie Porter, Gil Cisneros, and Josh Harder.

Only a quarter of respondents believed that Trump would be equally or more helpful. The president has yet to visit California this campaign season, so it’s an untested proposition. One of his sons made a quick stop last week though.

Our Insider Track Survey participants are paid subscribers to Target Book, and feature a who’s-who of state operatives from both major parties, plus lobbyists, labor and business groups, and others whose livelihoods depend on being politically in-the-know. But it isn’t just political insiders who worry about the Trump effect in California. When San Diego-area Republican congressional candidate Diane Harkey was asked last week about the seal of approval she’s received from the president, she hedged.

“I think anybody would be proud to have a presidential endorsement, and I am,” she said, touting the effect of last year’s federal tax legislation on the San Diego area economy. But her tone wasn’t exactly celebratory. “He supported me, I don’t know what to say here…I wish he’d tweet less.”

Even so, Trump is here to stay for the remainder of his first term, according to the same insiders. Though an anonymous New York Times op-ed writer and (reportedly) Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have both floated the idea of invoking the 25th amendment to eject the commander in chief from office—and Democratic activists have clamored for impeachment—a mere 8 percent of respondents predicted that the president will be removed before 2020 one way or another.

And of the remaining 92 percent, 1-in-4 predict he will be re-elected.

Latest in Blogs

Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris before the start of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami.

Blogs

Frontrunner no more: California poll puts Harris on top and Biden (way) down

Animal rights advocate Deborah Classen holds a poster featuring rabbits to support a bill that would ban fur from wild animals., at a Capitol hearing July 9, 2019.

Blogs

Fur flies as California moves closer to a statewide ban

Blogs

Introducing a new look for CalMatters

Students are joining teachers in the rain today on the picket line at Marshall High School in Los Angeles, as an LAUSD teachers strike began. Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News

Blogs

If L.A. won’t raise taxes for schools, will Californians vote to overhaul a Proposition 13?

Gov. Gavin Newsom surrounded by legislators at the 2019 State of the State address in the Capitol. Photo by Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio

Blogs

Newsom’s biggest budget win? Lawmakers didn’t break his heart

Blogs

A million independent voters risk being irrelevant in California’s presidential primary