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Donald Trump is running for president on some staggeringly unpopular ideas

What if cable news covered the Republicans the way they cover the Democrats?

There's a party running on unpopular ideas in 2020, and it's not the Democratic Party
President Trump held a press conference with members of the GOP, on the passage of legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House, On Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo credit: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Republican Party has a problem. It’s abandoned the kind of popular reforms that will appeal to middle-of-the-road voters, and insists on running on unpopular ideas.

Worse, instead of rallying behind a sensible, moderate candidate with a history of winning elections in a blue state, the GOP frontrunner for the 2020 nomination is an unpopular former reality show host with little experience in elected office, and who has literally never won the popular vote in any election.

Republicans, in other words, are making themselves unelectable. Someone in the media should ask them why they are doing this. Incessantly. In every forum possible. And especially in debates featuring Republican presidential candidates.

Republican health policy is unpopular

For nearly a decade, Republican health policy fixated on a singular goal, repealing the health care legislation President Obama signed in 2010. According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Obamacare supporters outnumber opponents by 10 percentage points. A June poll by Quinnipiac University found that 51% of registered voters oppose the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.

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Nevertheless, Trump, the obvious frontrunner for the GOP’s 2020 presidential nomination doesn’t simply want to repeal Obamacare, he also supports a lawsuit asking the courts to repeal it. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 54% of respondents do not want the judiciary to repeal Obamacare.

Meanwhile, the same organization found that 82% of Americans support Obamacare’s provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plan. Eighty-one percent support Obamacare’s subsidies that allow low-to-moderate income Americans to purchase health insurance. Eighty-one percent also support Obamacare’s provision closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole.” And 77% support allowing states to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. These popular provisions would all be repealed if the Republican lawsuit succeeds.

If anything, Republicans’ other health policy ideas are even more unpopular. After House Republicans passed a bill in 2017 that would have repealed much of Obamacare, while also drastically cutting Medicaid funding, only 16% of Americans said the bill was a “good idea,” according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Republican immigration policy is unpopular

Trump speaks often of his plan to build a wall along the United States/Mexican border, an unpopular idea. As The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote last January, “The wall has consistently been unpopular, with voters opposed by around a 20-point margin over months of national surveys.”

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Similarly, 64% of respondents to an April poll oppose “Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The same poll found that only 30% of Americans support the unpopular Republican plan to make it harder for immigrants to seek asylum. By contrast, 61% support either leaving things the same or making it easier to obtain asylum.

Overall, the poll found that 57% of respondents “disapprove of how Trump is handling immigration.”

Republican abortion policy is unpopular

Trump promised in 2016 that, if he were elected, Roe v. Wade would be overruled “automatically” after he adds more Republican judges to the Supreme Court. He’s since added two such Republicans, both of whom are anti-abortion.

This agenda is staggeringly unpopular. Last year, while Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was pending, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 71% of American voters believed Roe should be upheld. Only 23% agree with the Republican Party’s unpopular stance on Roe.

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Meanwhile, a 2018 Gallup poll found that “sixty-two percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, the powerful pro-choice group.”

Republican tax policy is unpopular

In 2017, Republicans pushed a $1.4 trillion tax law that primarily benefits the wealthy. This law was unpopular when it passed, and it remains unpopular today. As Politico summarized the polls during the last tax season:

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that just 17 percent of Americans believe their own taxes will go down as a result of the bill. A CBS News poll found that 40 percent said they saw no change from the tax bill. And more said it drove their taxes up (32 percent) than lowered their tax bill (25 percent.) . . .

A Pew Research Center survey conducted last month found that 36 percent of Americans approve of the tax-cut law while 49 percent disapprove. Even the number of Republicans who strongly approve of the law dipped in the latest Pew survey.

Meanwhile, a wide range of polls show that large majorities believe Trump should release his own tax forms — something he has so far refused to do.

Republican policies have been unpopular for a long time

It’s worth noting that the unpopularity of Republican ideas is not a new thing. For most of the last decade, for example, Republicans rallied behind the so-called “Ryan budget,” a politically toxic mix of Medicare vouchers, Medicaid cuts, food stamp cuts, and tax cuts for the rich.

This bible of Republican fiscal policy wasn’t just unpopular. As a Center for American Progress poll found, it was unpopular with the public, unpopular with Republicans, and even unpopular with Republican donors. Only rich Republican donors supported it. (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent newsroom housed in the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)

So the GOP’s embrace of unpopular policies is longstanding. Someone in the media should really ask them about this.