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President Trump walks from Marine One across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 23, as he returns from Reno, Nev. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

The George Washington University Battleground Poll released on Thursday reports:

There is widespread national concern about President Donald Trump’s public discourse and behavior, according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll. The survey, taken August 13-17, found a large majority of voters — 71 percent — agreed his “behavior is not what I expect from a president” (27 percent disagreed), and 68 percent agreed his “words and actions could get us accidentally involved in an international conflict” (29 percent disagreed).

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the registered voters polled said the country is on the wrong track, and a majority (56 percent) had an unfavorable view of President Trump (41 percent favorable). A similar number disapproved of the job he’s doing as president (55 percent), while 42 percent approved, and 56 percent also said he has not been effective as the president, while 39 percent said he has been effective.

As an aside we might note that there is some segment of voters who think he could accidentally involve us in an international crisis and still approve of the job he is doing. There’s no accounting for personal priorities, I suppose.

President Donald Trump’s reluctance to condemn bigotry suggests he does not want to heal the wounds of racism and white supremacy. Fred Hiatt, head of The Washington Post editorial board, says Americans still have reason to hope. (Adriana Usero,Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

More ominous for Republicans as a whole:

The GW Battleground Poll hinted at possible congressional upheaval with the 2018 midterm elections. Slightly more survey respondents chose Democrats (46 percent) than Republicans (40) on a generic congressional ballot, and voters were evenly split on their current members of Congress (43 percent approve, 45 disapprove).

Of 10 issues listed in the survey, the two on which Democrats hold a lead in voter confidence were health care (52 percent to the GOP’s 35) and climate change (62 to 24). More than half (53 percent) of voters said it was a good thing Congress did not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (41 percent said it was a bad thing), although slightly more people (35 percent) credited congressional Republicans with that inaction than Democrats (30) or the president (19).

And they do not buy that the Russia investigation is a “hoax.” (“When asked their thoughts on the ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, most voters (a combined 55 percent) believed Trump campaign staffers behaved improperly. A plurality, 33 percent, thought Trump campaign staffers likely committed crimes. Another 22 percent thought campaign staffers acted unethically but not criminally. Only 36 percent of respondents said the president’s campaign staff behaved normally.”)

The advice from the Democratic half of the polling team, Celinda Lake and her colleagues, provides a solid warning to Democrats. “Trump’s missteps have not translated to unambiguous gains for the opposition party. Democrats enjoy a narrow advantage in the generic congressional trial heat for the 2018 midterm elections, yet trail their Republican counterparts on most major issues, including voters’ persisting central concern: jobs and the economy,” they warn. “In order to win next November, Democrats will need to do more than ‘lean in’ on frustration with the President and the Republican Congress—though that certainly is a key element of positioning the party for victory; in addition, Democrats must make a far stronger case that they possess bold solutions to the major challenges facing the country and the capacity to effect dramatic change should voters hand them the reins of power.” That would suggest, in lieu of a raft of itty-bitty prescription, a limited list of widely popular items: fixing Obamacare, passing a major infrastructure bill, focusing any tax cut on the middle class, etc. Trump has not made good on his populist agenda — and that offers Democrats a chance to pick up disenchanted Trump voters and reassemble their own coalition.

Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah deconstructs the Democratic Party’s “Better Deal” platform, which she says will get it knocked out of future elections by ignoring minorities and marginalized groups. (Gillian Brockell,Kate Woodsome,Karen Attiah/The Washington Post)

The 2018 midterm elections are figuratively a referendum on Trump — and whether the country is better served by a Congress that is subservient to the president or by a Congress that will stand up to him. In this regard, Democrats would be wise to paint (correctly) their opponents as too afraid to fight Trump not only on issues like racial unity but on taxes (for the rich), massive cuts to Medicaid and immigration extremism. Democrats’ job will be made even easier if Republicans cannot manage to keep the government open and the country’s credit rating intact.

In other words, unless Republicans in Congress can reduce the chaos and produce widely popular legislation, Democrats can present themselves as the only adults in sight. That’s a role Republicans like to inhabit but when the president acts like a crabby toddler, the job of grownup is wide open.