Inside the Beltway: Democratic dream of riding a 'blue wave' to victory in 2018 fades

The 72-hour government shutdown melodrama is over, leaving analysts to explain what it all means. Or doesn’t mean. The phrases “Democrats caved” and “Republican victory” were bandied about a great deal. But one reality looms for both political parties. The shutdown is but a few steps on a long march which leads right through the midterms and onto the final destination, which is the 2020 presidential election.

Meanwhile, the proverbial Trump train is rolling. Polls are slowly revealing that, percentage point by percentage point, Americans are not automatically rejecting President Trump and his administration these days — to the horror of the mainstream media. Their creative and hostile coverage cannot mask a record-breaking stock market boom and emerging optimism, clearly products of the 12-month-old Trump administration. The weary public has noticed, and is giving positive ratings on a number of issues. A Harvard/Harris poll released Monday reveals that 59 percent of all U.S. voters give Mr. Trump a thumbs up on his prowess with both the economy and job creation; 52 percent praised him on terrorism, 44 percent on immigration. The president’s personal favorability numbers are climbing — now at 46 percent among all voters according to a recent Zogby poll. A new Rasmussen Reports also found that 42 percent of all likely voters believe Mr. Trump now “sets the agenda” in the nation’s capital.

“This last year has been a humdinger for President Trump. Coming in with the lowest of expectations, he has exceeded virtually all forecasts and the dire predictions of doom by his naysayers. Tax cuts and deregulation, the twin pillars of Trumponomics, have been a success by any measure. If Trump’s second year is as successful as his first, the ‘blue wave’ Democrats expect in the 2018 midterm elections may not materialize,” notes an Investors Business Daily editorial which calls this initial victory “a triumph of economic realism over foolish skepticism.”

MALWARE ALERT

“Hackers are using ‘Fire & Fury’ to install malware. Don’t open unsolicited PDF copies of Michael Wolff’s Trump book. Researchers uncovered one bundled with malware,” warns Daily Beast analyst Joseph Cox, who credits the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky with discovering the flaw.

“To be absolutely clear: Malware is not affecting the ordinary, retail copy of Fire and Fury, but files linked to a PDF version circulating online. The dangerous types are the pirated PDFs you’d find in Google searches and on torrent sites, but not ones on traditional ebook retailers like Apple Books or Amazon. Still, the gambit shows some of the downright bizarre hooks criminals, hackers, or pranksters may use to spread malware — including juicy entries from the nonfiction rack,” Mr. Cox explains. “But, if someone unsolicitedly sends you a several hundred-page PDF of embarrassing Trump anecdotes, maybe think twice about opening it.”

SOME ADVICE FOR DEMOCRATS

They may fret about the midterms, but 2020 looms large on the horizon for Democratic senators who are already striking presidential postures and talking about “resistance.” A fellow Democrat has some practical advice, though.

“For my colleagues who are hoping that they might be on the ticket in 2020, I don’t think simply moving further and further to left is the best way to accomplish that,” Sen. Chris Coons told MSNBC on Monday afternoon. “I think showing we can solve big problems is the way to encourage people to believe that Democrats belong in control of the Congress and back in the White House.”

WARREN’S ‘GHOST’

“There’s a ghost haunting Elizabeth Warren as she ramps up for a possible 2020 presidential bid and a re-election campaign in Massachusetts this year: her enduring and undocumented claims of Native American ancestry,” points out Annie Linskey, a staff writer for the Boston Globe who says that the Democratic senator’s heritage claim “is a long-festering issue which could cloud her prospects in 2020.”

Certainly President Trump and assorted Republican critics have taken Ms. Warren to task about the matter in recent years.

“More telling, there’s also discomfort on the left and among some tribal leaders and activists that Warren has a political blind spot when it comes to the murkiness surrounding her story of her heritage,” Ms. Linskey writes, also noting that the progressive lawmaker listed herself as a minority in a legal directory published by the Association of American Law Schools and on federal forms associated with Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania.

“Warren is mentioned as a serious presidential contender in 2020, even some who should be her natural allies say Warren has displayed a stubborn unwillingness to address the gap between the story she was told of Native Americans in the family tree and a dearth of hard evidence to back it up. It’s a disconnect that has lingered unresolved in the public sphere for more than five years,” Ms. Linskey says.

DAVOS BOUND

Fox Business Network global markets editor Maria Bartiromo will anchor her daily signature program “Mornings with Maria” live from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, starting Tuesday. She will also moderate the conference’s opening session, titled “Global Markets in a Fractured World,” featuring NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman, Blackstone chairman Stephen Schwarzman, Deutsche Post DHL Group CEO Frank Appel, Bank of American chairman Brian Moynihan and Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam.

In all likelihood, President Trump will depart for Davos on Tuesday after the uproar lessens over the demise of the government shutdown.

POLL DU JOUR

• 79 percent of U.S. voters say immigration priority should be granted on a person’s “ability to contribute to America”; 87 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of independents and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

• 79 percent of Americans say the U.S. should have secure borders; 93 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree.

• 68 percent overall oppose a lottery-based immigration system for “greater diversity”; 78 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats agree.

• 61 percent overall say U.S. border security is inadequate; 84 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats agree.

• 54 percent overall support building a combination physical and electronic barrier between the U.S. and Mexico; 85 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Harvard University/Harris/Hill survey of 980 registered U.S. voters conducted January 17-19.

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