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Paul Ryan’s policy agenda is more toxic than Trump’s low approval ratings

House Speaker Paul Ryan Holds Weekly News Conference
Erratic twitter behavior isn’t the only determinant of political popularity
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted out a video of him wrestling a person with CNN’s logo over his face to the ground. Within hours of him doing so, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was ready with a response: Trump’s opponents should focus on the Republican Party’s health care bill, not his Twitter antics.

A new batch of polls suggests that Murphy may be onto something. On Monday, Public Policy Polling released surveys showing that Trump’s approval rating is more than 10 points higher than the Senate Republican health care bill in three crucial battleground states — Colorado, North Carolina, and Iowa.

Trump continues to be more popular than Republican health bill

In all three states, Trump remains a deeply polarizing figure. In Iowa, Trump’s approval rating stands with 46 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed. In North Carolina, his approval rating stands at 46-50.

Those numbers really are low — part of Trump’s historically low approval ratings this early into a presidency — but they’re not all that far off from Trump’s base of support heading into the election in November 2016. (Relative to polling before the election, Trump has lost just one point in North Carolina and one point in Colorado, while improving by 2 points in Iowa.)

The health care bill, by contrast, is unpopular across the board. In Iowa, just 27 percent of voters approve the bill — compared to 54 percent who oppose it. In North Carolina, similarly, 33 percent of voters approve the bill, and 54 percent of the state is against it. Colorado voters disapprove of it by a 33-point margin.

These three states are also particularly crucial to watch because they’re all represented by Republican senators who will be up for reelection in 2020. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are all expected to be safe “yes” votes on the health care bill. But by a 20-point margin in all three states, voters said that they’d be less likely to support their Republican senators’ reelection campaigns if they support the bill, according to PPP.

The unpopularity of the health care bill isn’t new or surprising. But between his firing of FBI Director James Comey and his campaign’s potential ties to Russia, Trump has given plenty of ammunition to his Democratic opponents. These findings again suggest that the GOP vision on health care may be the most fertile line of attack for Democrats.

“On Comey and Russia, voters see there’s a lot of smoke and maybe even some fire; they’re yet to see that the fire might burn them,” said Jesse Ferguson, a former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee official, in an interview last month. “Whereas on health care, the country knows that repeal will burn them.”