Kevin Yoder admits his poll numbers are down, and the reason is President Donald Trump.
Kansas’ 3rd District congressman — representing mostly Johnson and Wyandotte Counties — wouldn’t share with me all the details of his polling, but it was clear from our conversation that his numbers must be down enough to have him concerned.
Yoder’s district is one of only 23 in the entire nation where a Republican congressman represents a district that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Although she squeaked by with only a one-point victory, it was a stunning showing by a Democrat in that district.
Yoder did share that his polls show Trump with a 40 percent approval rating in the district, which Yoder said was the same as Trump’s approval rating in the district during the presidential campaign. I find that almost impossible to believe, given Trump’s implosion in polls across the nation during his first year as president. But let’s suppose, for the sake of the argument, that Yoder is right. Why then would Yoder’s poll numbers be crumbling if Trump’s are holding steady in the 3rd District?
I can only come up with one plausible reason. The 60 percent who did not approve of Trump in 2016 not only disapprove of him now, but they detest him enough to want to send a clear and angry message, even if it means abandoning the Republican Party for this one vote.
I should know. I am flirting with the same notions myself. I like Yoder and have followed him closely during his three terms in Congress. I have agreed with his votes the vast majority of the time until recently. He votes the Republican Party line almost always, and the GOP has veered sharply to the right.
I have no use for Trump. And I abhor the two major votes Yoder has cast under Trump. One was the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare that would have knocked 23 million Americans off of health insurance. The other was the just-passed tax cut, which gave 80 percent of the cuts to the top 5 percent of Americans. Yoder rationalizes his votes, but he cannot puncture the facts.
The damning factor for me — and I would suspect a good portion of that 60 percent — is the Trump poison that emanates through the president’s tweets, his words and his deeds. Trump so alarms me that he may be scary enough for me to send a message to the president via a vote against Yoder.
Yoder knows he may well lose lots of moderate Republicans like me because his polls almost certainly would indicate that. But the polls are asking for opinions about Yoder, without contrasting him to a specific Democratic opponent who will be on the ballot in November.
That’s why I am likely to come home.
The former Democratic frontrunner in the 3rd District, Andrea Ramsey, an attorney and former executive who would have made a strong candidate, made national news by dropping out of the race amid sexual harassment allegations.
That leaves a field of candidates who appear at this time to be both weak, and for the most part, extremely liberal. When I say liberal, I mean Democrats who support Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-avowed democratic socialist. His policies are so far left that he is almost as scary as Trump in his own way. I don’t want to live in a socialist America.
If this congressional race comes down to a Trump Republican versus a Sanders Democrat, I believe Yoder will win once again by 10 points, and he probably will get my reluctant, agonized vote. I suspect enough other moderate Republicans would do what Trump has never shown a capacity to do — decide who’s the best person for the job and leave the vendettas out of it.