Americans’ Views Of The Economy Are Partisan, But They’re Not Immune To Bad News

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

“How is the economy doing?” is a question that we have several hard, objective metrics with which to answer. But increasingly, how Americans think the economy is doing seems to depend on their party. But just because views of the economy are polarized, that doesn’t mean they’re stagnant — and that could prove pivotal for President Trump in 2020.

Quinnipiac University’s latest national poll of registered voters, conducted Aug. 21-26, found a huge gap between how Republicans and Democrats perceive the state of the economy: 43 percent of Republicans described it as “excellent,” and another 45 percent described it as “good”; among Democrats, however, just 2 percent described the state of the economy as “excellent” and 37 percent said it was “good.” A plurality of Democrats, 43 percent, thought it was “not so good,” while 17 percent called it “poor.”

In total, 88 percent of Republicans used a positive adjective for the state of the economy, while only 39 percent of Democrats did the same. That 49-point gap in how the two parties perceived the strength of the economy was the second-largest that Quinnipiac has measured in the last three years.10 (The largest gap came this January, amid the government shutdown.)

Granted, it’s not unusual for voters’ politics to color their perceptions of the economy. During the Obama administration, Democrats were generally more optimistic about the economy than Republicans were; that flipped a few months into Trump’s tenure. Since then, Republicans have consistently viewed the economy more positively than Democrats have, but as the chart above shows, the gap between parties has really widened over time.

Most of this is due to Republicans warming to the economy, going from having a slight majority with positive views at the beginning of the Trump administration to near-universal approval today. Under the surface, Republicans haven’t just gotten more likely to feel positively about the economy, they’ve also been reporting more strongly positive feelings. As late as April 2018, only 18 percent of Republicans said the state of the economy was “excellent” and 65 percent said it was “good.” In May 2019, 50 percent rated it “excellent” and 42 percent rated it “good.” That said, a bit of that enthusiasm did wear off in the latest poll, when the “excellent” number dropped by a few points. This could be the result of heightened anxiety that a recession might be around the corner.

But while Republicans’ views on the economy have largely been on a steady march upward, Democrats’ views appear to be more sensitive to events. In February 2018, after Trump’s first State of the Union address and a strong month in the stock market, 62 percent of Democrats had a positive view of the economy, but at moments like the January 2019 government shutdown or this most recent poll, positive views of the economy among Democrats have dipped to as low as 39 percent. But electorally, Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on the economy may not matter all that much; their 2020 votes are largely already set in stone.

So what’s perhaps more troubling for Trump is that independents’ opinions on the economy look a lot like Democrats’ — they often react to current events in a similar way, though their recent baseline is about 20 points higher. While it’s plausible that partisan polarization is so strong these days that even a recession would not change many voters’ minds about Trump, the fact that independents appear persuadable on the economy is a point in favor of the theory that a recession would indeed damage his reelection chances.

Indeed, it might be a coincidence that Trump’s overall approval rating has ticked down in recent weeks amid speculation about a looming recession, but it also comes at a time when only 57 percent of independents have kind things to say about the state of the economy — the lowest number Quinnipiac has found since the summer of 2017.

Other polling bites

  • As long as we’re on the topic of partisan gaps, there is also one on whether the U.S. should spend more money for scientific research. According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Democrats and people who lean Democratic would increase federal spending on scientific research, but only 40 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents agreed. That said, that’s still more support among both parties than Pew previously found in almost two decades of polling.
  • Marquette University Law School — one of the best pollsters in a crucial swing state — released its latest poll of Wisconsin this week, and residents gave Trump a 45 percent approval rating and a 53 percent disapproval rating. Interestingly, 37 percent of Wisconsinites said they thought the economy has gotten better over the last year, and 25 percent said they thought it had gotten worse — but when asked how they thought the economy would change in the next year, the results were reversed. Just 26 percent thought things would get better, and 37 percent thought they would get worse.
  • Tune in next week for a full preview of the upcoming do-over election in the North Carolina 9th Congressional District, but don’t overlook the special election in the North Carolina 3rd District that’s happening at the same time. That race has gotten less attention, but this week the Republican blog RRH Elections released a poll of that race that gave GOP state Rep. Greg Murphy a 51-40 lead over Democrat Allen Thomas in this bright-red district. (According to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric,11 it’s 24 points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole.)
  • Just in time for CNN’s climate town halls with the Democratic presidential candidates, the Sierra Club and Morning Consult released a poll of “climate voters” — those who say that the candidates’ climate plans are “very important” to their vote. And the results looked a lot like polls of the Democratic field overall, with former Vice President Joe Biden at 30 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 21 percent and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 20 percent.
  • Turmoil on the Thames! Opponents of a no-deal Brexit successfully took control of the parliamentary agenda away from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and advanced a bill to prevent the United Kingdom from exiting the European Union without an agreement in place. In response, Johnson wants to call a new parliamentary election, and British voters tilt slightly in his favor. A YouGov poll says 41 percent of Britons want their member of Parliament to vote to hold a new election in mid-October, and 31 percent want their MP to vote against such a measure.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.4 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.9 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -12.5 points). At this time last week, 41.3 percent approved and 54.2 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.9 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.4 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.2 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.8 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.5 percentage points (46.3 percent to 39.8 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.7 points (46.4 percent to 39.7 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 6.1 points (46.1 percent to 40.0 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

What If The Third Debate Were Based On Different Polls?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

The deadline to make the third Democratic primary debate has passed, and thanks to harder qualifying rules, just 10 candidates made the stage. This, of course, was unwelcome news among candidates such as billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who were on the cusp of making the debate. Steyer needed just one more qualifying poll, and Gabbard needed two.

And this got us thinking: What would the debate stage look like if the list or type of eligible polls were different? Gabbard, in particular, has taken the Democratic National Committee to task for the specific pollsters included in its list of approved polling organizations, arguing that had the list of pollsters been expanded, she would have had at least 2 percent support in more than 20 polls conducted during the third debate qualification window. And in fairness to her, understanding how the DNC determines its list of approved polling organizations can be confusing. Gabbard did hit 2 percent in YouGov’s latest national survey sponsored by The Economist, but it didn’t count toward qualifying for the debate.

So to better understand how including different pollsters or relying on different pollster methodologies could affect who made the debate stage, we checked to see who would have qualified if:

  1. all polls had been counted;
  2. just polls from pollsters with a grade of at least B- or better, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Pollster Ratings (as this grade captures a mix of high-quality phone polls and respected online polls); and
  3. only live phone interviews polls, which are often considered the gold standard in polling.

And in this thought exercise, we also kept many of the DNC’s requirements for the third debate, meaning we also included only polls released between June 28 and Aug. 28 — and only counted a candidate as qualified if he or she hit 2 percent support in four polls and attracted the support of 130,000 individual donors (including at least 400 individual donors in at least 20 states).2 We also adhered to the DNC’s rules that limit qualifying polls to national and early-state surveys3 and that said two polls by the same pollster in the same geography can’t be counted.4

OK, so first up: Who would have made the stage in our most generous scenario where all polls are counted? Well, maybe not as many candidates as you’d expect given the parameters. Gabbard and Steyer would make the stage with nine and seven polls, respectively. And author and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson comes a little closer to making it with two qualifying polls. (She also has met the donor requirement.) But this still leaves out seven candidates that FiveThirtyEight considers “major” as well as the candidates who have dropped out since the second debate.

What if all polls had been counted for the third debate?

Candidates who would have qualified for the third debate had the DNC used all polls* in the FiveThirtyEight database released from June 28 to Aug. 28

Met DNC criteria Met hypothetical
Candidate 130k+ Donors 2% in four polls All polls
Joe Biden
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Kamala Harris
Amy Klobuchar
Beto O’Rourke
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang
Julián Castro
Tulsi Gabbard
Tom Steyer

For candidates considered “major” by FiveThirtyEight.

We adhered to the DNC’s donor requirements and polling support threshold. To qualify for the third debate under the DNC’s rules, a candidate had to reach 2 percent in at least four national or early-state polls from qualifying polling organizations and needed at least 130,000 unique donors, including at least 400 donors in at least 20 states.

*We excluded polls conducted by partisan pollsters, head-to-head polls, polls with open-ended questions and polls in the same geography by the same pollster.

Sources: Polls, Media reports

So, OK — what about the scenario in which we limit our scope to pollsters with at least a B- grade, according to our pollster ratings? It makes sense that the DNC would want to limit at least some of the pollsters included. So we chose pollsters that are still high quality, but our list of pollsters ends up being a little more expansive than the list of DNC-approved pollsters. And under this scenario, the same 12 candidates would make the stage as in the “all polls” scenario, but it’s a much closer cutoff — Steyer would have ended up with exactly four qualifying polls and Gabbard five — just one fewer than former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.

Only pollsters with a grade of at least B- counted?

Candidates who would have qualified for the third debate had the DNC included pollsters that FiveThirtyEight has given a grade of at least B-, with polls* released from June 28 to Aug. 28

Met DNC criteria Met Hypothetical
Candidate 130k+ Donors 2% in four polls Pollster rating of at least B-
Joe Biden
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Kamala Harris
Amy Klobuchar
Beto O’Rourke
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang
Julián Castro
Tulsi Gabbard
Tom Steyer

For candidates considered “major” by FiveThirtyEight.

We adhered to the DNC’s donor requirements and polling support threshold. To qualify for the third debate under the DNC’s rules, a candidate had to reach 2 percent in at least four national or early-state polls from qualifying polling organizations and needed at least 130,000 unique donors, including at least 400 donors in at least 20 states.

*We excluded polls conducted by partisan pollsters, head-to-head polls, polls with open-ended questions and polls in the same geography by the same pollster.

Sources: Polls, Media reports

On the other hand, what if the DNC had been more — not less — strict with its requirements? For instance, what if the DNC had chosen to just use pollsters that use live phone interviews? Yes, these polls are facing many challenges right now, including low response rates and high costs, but they remain the best performing type of poll. So if the DNC had limited qualification to these types of polls, the number of debate participants would have actually shrunk from 10 candidates to nine. The odd man out would be Castro, who would have ended up with only three qualifying polls, ahead the two for Gabbard and Steyer.

Only polls conducted by telephone counted?

Candidates* who would have qualified for the third debate had the DNC only included pollsters that do live telephone surveys, with polls* released from June 28 to Aug. 28

MET DNC Criteria Met Hypothetical
Candidate 130k+ Donors 2% in four polls Live phone Polls
Joe Biden
Cory Booker
Pete Buttigieg
Kamala Harris
Amy Klobuchar
Beto O’Rourke
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang
Julián Castro

For candidates considered “major” by FiveThirtyEight.

We adhered to the DNC’s donor requirements and polling support threshold. To qualify for the third debate under the DNC’s rules, a candidate had to reach 2 percent in at least four national or early-state polls from qualifying polling organizations and needed at least 130,000 unique donors, including at least 400 donors in at least 20 states.

*We excluded polls conducted by partisan pollsters, head-to-head polls, polls with open-ended questions and polls in the same geography by the same pollster.

Sources: Polls, Media reports

So big picture, you could say the exact DNC rules don’t make a huge difference — most of the same set of candidates makes it on stage regardless. Of course, for the individual candidates on the edge of qualification, that give or take is everything. Suffice it to say, the rules matter quite a bit to them. And in this case, there’s an argument to be made that the DNC’s list of eligible pollsters helped make or break qualification for those candidates on the bubble — Gabbard and Steyer in particular.

Other polling bites

  • New polling from Politico/Morning Consult suggests that Democrats prefer “Medicare for All” to building on the Affordable Care Act. The survey found that 65 percent of Democratic primary voters were either “much more likely” or “somewhat more likely” to back a presidential candidate who supported a single-payer health care system like Medicare for All over “preserving and improving” the ACA. Just 13 percent said such a position would make them “much less likely” or “somewhat less likely” to support such a candidate. Among all voters, 53 percent supported a Medicare for All-type health system compared to 34 percent who opposed it.
  • A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 61 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 38 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. And though Pew found stark partisan divides over abortion policy, it did find evidence that there was more support for policies advocated by the Democratic Party (42 percent) than the Republican Party (32 percent) – though 24 percent said they don’t agree with either party’s policies.
  • In a recent report on trust, media and democracy, Gallup and the Knight Foundation found that Americans are at least somewhat worried about local news organizations being consolidated under large media companies, especially if the parent company had strong political views. Sixty-six percent said they would be “very” concerned that the political views of the parent company “would influence the fairness of news coverage,” and 26 percent said they would be “somewhat” concerned. Large majorities also said they were worried about the inclusion of more news from outside the local area and less investment in news gathering and reporting.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders said last week that he would hold companies accountable for their role in climate change, and YouGov Blue/Data for Progress found that about 62 percent of voters would support holding energy producers legally liable “if it could be proven that they misled the public about the consequences of climate change.” Another 20 percent opposed the idea. And perhaps unsurprisingly, support for the idea fell along partisan lines — 77 percent of Democrats supported the idea as did 63 percent of independents, while 39 percent of Republicans supported it.
  • Ahead of Labor Day, Gallup released a survey on labor unions in the United States, finding that 64 percent of Americans approve of labor unions; that is one of the highest approval ratings in the past 50 years. Since the late 1960s, approval of labor unions has mostly hovered below 60 percent.
  • Pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced that the United Kingdom’s parliamentary session would be suspended until mid-October, not long before the Oct. 31 deadline for the U.K. to agree to a managed transition to leave the European Union. Johnson’s move gives members opposed to exiting the EU without an agreement less time to maneuver against a “no deal” Brexit, and a new poll from YouGov found that 47 percent of Britons oppose Johnson’s decision, while 27 percent support it.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 54.2 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, while 41.3 percent approve (a net approval rating of -12.9 points). At this time last week, 41.5 percent approved and 54.0 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.5 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.5 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.4 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.9 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.7 percentage points (46.4 percent to 39.7 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.3 points (46.2 percent to 39.9 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 5.9 points (46.1 percent to 40.2 percent).

Why Don’t Americans Want D.C. To Be A State?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

Recently things have been looking up for D.C.-statehood advocates. Almost every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate has expressed support for making the nation’s capital the 51st state. The House scheduled (and then postponed) a hearing on the issue. And as this native Washingtonian can attest, many locals marching in July 4 parades carried signs that said “No Taxation Without Representation,” a Revolutionary War slogan repurposed as the rallying cry for D.C. statehood.

There’s just one snag: Nearly two-thirds of Americans — 64 percent — oppose making D.C. a state, according to a recent Gallup poll.

While D.C. statehood is very popular within the District (in 2017, 86 percent of D.C. residents voted in support of a statehood referendum), support among Americans at large is much lower. The question hasn’t been polled that often, but in the only other polls we found,10 conducted in 1989 and 1992, a majority of Americans (around 55 percent) said they opposed D.C. statehood.

So what is it about D.C. statehood that gives Americans pause? The most obvious explanation might be that adding a state could change the makeup of Congress. Washington, D.C., is a heavily Democratic city — for example, just 4 percent of its residents voted for President Trump in 2016 — so D.C. statehood would almost certainly give Democrats two more senators and one more seat in the House, all of which could make Republicans less likely to support it.

But perhaps there’s something else going on here, as Americans haven’t always been opposed to adding new states. For instance, before Alaska became a state in 1959, 71 percent of Americans were in favor of adding it to the Union, according to a Gallup poll from 1957.11 And support for Puerto Rico’s statehood remains higher than support for the District’s. In Gallup’s most recent poll, they found that two-thirds of Americans favor statehood for Puerto Rico.

So it could be that Americans just don’t think of the nation’s capital as a state. In an interview with Politico, Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones said that Americans’ (largely negative) views on the federal government might be influencing the way they think about the District. A Gallup poll from January found that a majority of Americans, 63 percent, said they have “not very much” or no trust in the federal government’s ability to handle domestic problems, and, Jones said, it’s possible that this attitude “rains down on D.C.’s population and local government.”

Regardless of why many Americans are reluctant to grant D.C. statehood, the issue probably isn’t going away: Democrats are campaigning on it and D.C.’s mayor and nonvoting congressional representative are pushing for it, which is likely to keep the issue in the spotlight at least until the 2020 election.

Other polling bites

  • A Quinnipiac University poll of California Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters found that a plurality supported their senator, Kamala Harris, in the Democratic primary. Harris’ 23 percent narrowly edges out former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s at 21 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 18 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 16 percent. This looks like good news for Harris, who is up from 17 percent in Quinnipiac’s April survey, though her lead over Biden falls within the poll’s margin of error.
  • President Trump tweeted on Sunday that four Democratic congresswomen of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three days later, a YouGov poll asked Americans how they felt about the president’s tweets and found that a majority thought they were “terrible” or “bad.” But there was a wide partisan divide, with 87 percent of Democrats rating the tweets as “terrible” or “bad” and only 13 percent of Republicans saying the same.
  • An Economist/YouGov poll found that among U.S. adults who voted for Trump in 2016, a majority have either “very unfavorable” or “somewhat unfavorable” views of three of the four first-term congresswomen Trump alluded to in his tweet. Eighty-two percent said they have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable view of Ocasio-Cortez, 73 percent said this of Omar and 67 percent said it of Tlaib, but just 36 percent had a negative opinion of Pressley.
  • Last week, Trump announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would conduct a series of raids to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants. A little over half of registered voters — 51 percent — said they “somewhat” or “strongly” supported the raids, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll published on Wednesday. Thirty-five percent of voters said they either “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed the raids.
  • A recent Gallup poll found that women between 18 and 49 are more likely to view the “American dream” as unattainable than men and women over 50. Nearly three-quarters of people over 50 and 73 percent of men under 50 said they believed that if they “work hard and play by the rules,” they will be able to achieve the American dream. Just 58 percent of women under 50 said the same.
  • A joint Washington Post-Reforma poll found that 55 percent of Mexican adults think the main problem facing their country is insecurity. The poll also found that 42 percent of Mexicans characterize U.S.-Mexico relations as “bad” or “very bad” while only 24 percent say they’re “good” or “very good.”
  • The percentage of U.S. adults who say that when they go online they mostly do it on a smartphone has nearly doubled since 2013, a Pew Research Center report found. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. adults said they usually access the internet on a cellphone in 2019, compared with 19 percent in 2013. Among Americans between 18 and 29, almost 60 percent say they mostly go online using their cellphone; six years ago, that figure was 41 percent.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.1 points). At this time last week, 42.5 percent approved and 52.4 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -9.9 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.5 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.4 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.9 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.4 percentage points (46.2 percent to 39.8 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.4 points (46.3 percent to 39.9 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 6.2 points (46.1 percent to 39.9 percent).

CORRECTION (July 19, 2019, 1:18 p.m.): A previous version of this article said that if D.C. became a state it would gain three electoral votes. D.C. already has three electoral votes.

Second Place In The Democratic Primary Is Crowded — That’s Not Good For Sanders

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup. Hope you didn’t miss us too much over the holiday weekend.

Poll(s) of the fortnight

You’ve probably heard that the first Democratic primary debate was bad for former Vice President Joe Biden’s polling numbers and good for Sen. Kamala Harris’s and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s. But what about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s long been second to Biden in the polls? Well, his standing appears to be slipping — and his runner-up status is now in real danger.

For example, a CNN/SSRS poll conducted in the days after the debate gave Sanders 14 percent of the vote, which was down 4 points from late May, when CNN/SSRS last polled the primary. And a Quinnipiac poll from after the debate gave Sanders 13 percent of the vote; earlier in June, the pollster had him sitting at 19 percent.

Granted, not every poll showed Sanders losing ground. According to Reuters/Ipsos, Sanders enjoyed the support of 15 percent of Americans a few weeks before the debate and 16 percent right after it. And the poll we partnered with Morning Consult on to track debate reaction in almost real time found Sanders’s support virtually unchanged from before to after the debate. But RealClearPolitics’s overall polling average does suggest that Sanders did indeed lose a couple of points from the debate.

And his standing might be even more endangered because Warren and Harris improved so much that they are now in a rough three-way tie with Sanders for second place. That’s a problem for Sanders because there are now two newly competitive rivals whom he needs to vanquish to win the nomination. Your baseball team may be only a few games out of first place, but if four other teams are too, it hurts your odds of finishing first; not only must you perform well, but you also need multiple other teams ahead of you to stumble.

More importantly, Sanders is arguably in a worse position than Warren and Harris are, despite their nearly tied horse-race polling. And that’s because someone with near-universal name recognition like Sanders needs to be polling higher to have a good shot at winning the nomination (or at least that’s what our research on historical early primary polls has found). On the other hand, lower-name recognition candidates like Warren and Harris arguably have more room to grow than Sanders does, as there is still a pool of potential supporters out there who haven’t heard of them. And unlike Sanders, Warren and Harris both outperformed their polling average in the first half of 2019 when you adjust for name recognition.

Another potential pitfall for Sanders is that he has so far limited himself with a campaign strategy that doesn’t appear designed to expand beyond his base. But to win the nomination, he’ll need to win over some new fans — especially if he keeps losing old ones. Ardent progressives have more options (most obviously Warren) to choose from than they did in 2016, and Sanders may have underestimated how much of his 2016 support was simply a protest vote against Hillary Clinton. An Emerson College poll out this week found he was getting only 25 percent of the vote among those who said they supported him in 2016.

So yes, Sanders is going through a rough patch — but he could still recover. With eight months until the first ballots are cast, there is plenty of time for him to change campaign strategies. He certainly has the money — a reported $30 million cash on hand, plus the proven ability to fundraise even more — to go on the offensive again. Then again, so do his rivals — Warren reportedly raised even more money than Sanders in the second quarter. Sanders might want to act quickly to turn his campaign around, as his margin for error is rapidly shrinking.

Other polling bites

  • In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week, support for Roe v. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s legal right to an abortion) has tied its all-time high in their polling — 60 percent of Americans. Notably, Democrats (specifically, 71 percent of them) were more likely than Republicans (57 percent) to say abortion would be an important issue in their 2020 vote for president, yet another sign that Republicans may have lost their advantage in this arena.
  • In the first poll we’ve seen of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Colorado (one of the Democrats’ best pick-up opportunities), former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff took 23 percent, Secretary of State Jena Griswold (who isn’t running — yet) took 15 percent and former state Sen. Mike Johnston took 12 percent. The poll was conducted by Keating Research and Onsight Public Affairs but paid for at least in part by supporters of Griswold.
  • A new study from Pew Research found that 64 percent of U.S. military veterans do not think the Iraq War was worth fighting. In addition, 58 percent think the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting, and 55 percent say the same about U.S. involvement in Syria. The numbers are almost identical among the general public.
  • YouGov researched the walk-up songs of 23 presidential candidates (the music that plays when they take the stage at rallies) and asked respondents to pick their three favorites. President Trump’s “God Bless the USA” took first place with 28 percent of the vote; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” took second with 18 percent, closely followed by Sanders’s “Power to the People” (16 percent).
  • Also according to YouGov, 28 percent of Americans said it is “very likely” the government is hiding information from the public about UFOs. Another 26 percent said it was “somewhat likely.” Now I’m just thinking about what the aliens’ walk-up music would be.
  • A new Nanos poll, released Tuesday, found that 35 percent of Canadians plan to vote for embattled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in October’s parliamentary elections; 30 percent plan to vote for the Conservative Party, 18 percent for the National Democratic Party and 9 percent for the Green Party. Then, on Wednesday, Mainstreet Research also released a poll putting Liberals at 35 percent and Conservatives at 33 percent (the NDP and Green Party took 10 percent each). The polls were a surprise because Conservatives have long been leading in the polling average, although that advantage has narrowed in recent weeks.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.4 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -9.9 points). At this time last week, 42.3 percent approved and 52.5 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -10.2 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.0 percent, for a net approval rating of -11.0 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.4 percentage points (46.3 percent to 39.9 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.1 points (46.2 percent to 40.1 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 5.8 points (45.9 percent to 40.1 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

Yes, Democrats Are Paying Plenty Of Attention To The 2020 Election

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

Political junkies might think the whole country is devotedly following the 2020 presidential campaign (FiveThirtyEight certainly is). But remember, the election is still more than a year away. So it’s definitely fair to ask just how many people are already tuning in.

And with this in mind, a new survey from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that just 35 percent of Democrats1 said they were paying “a good deal” or “a lot” of attention to the campaign so far. Or in other words, only about one-third of Democrats are seriously following the goings-on of the campaign.

But one-third seemed a bit low to me, given that other pollsters have found that Democrats care a lot about picking a candidate they think can defeat President Trump this year, so I took a look at what other pollsters have found this cycle. I found that Quinnipiac University has asked a version of this question three times so far in 2019, finding each time that Democrats are paying quite a bit of attention to the race. For example, 74 percent said they were either paying “a lot” or “some” attention in the most recent survey.2

Democrats aren’t sleeping on 2020

Amount of attention Democratic respondents are paying to the 2020 campaign, according to three 2019 Quinnipiac surveys

Dates None at all Not much Some A lot
June 6-10 8% 18% 29% 45%
May 16-20 4 19 34 44
April 26-30 3 12 27 58

* Don’t know/not applicable not shown.

Source: Quinnipiac University

 

So what’s going on here? Well, it’s probably not that there’s a huge discrepancy in the number of Democrats paying attention to the election, but rather just a difference in how AP-NORC and Quinnipiac have asked this question. AP-NORC gave respondents five choices: “a lot,”, “a good deal,” “some,” “not much,” “no attention so far,” whereas Quinnipiac only offered four choices, not giving respondents the “a good deal” option.3 This means that in the AP-NORC survey, “some” is used as a middle-of-the-road response, whereas “some” is one of the Quinnipiac poll’s more attentive options. This means these polls aren’t directly comparable, but if you were to add the “some” response in AP-NORC’s survey to those who said they were paying “a lot” or “a good deal” of attention, you’d get 71 percent of Democrats in the AP-NORC poll who say they are following the race at least to “some” degree, which is roughly in line with what Quinnipiac has found.

And if we go back to previous cycles, the numbers from Quinnipiac actually suggest that Democrats are paying just as much attention as they normally would, or even more than usual. A CBS News/New York Times poll from early August 2015 that gave respondents options similar to Quinnipiac found that 72 percent of Democrats were paying either “a lot” or “some” attention. In other words, a poll that came out in August 2015 found Democrats to be just as attentive as a June 2019 survey. Plus, if you compare the people who said they were paying “a lot” of attention in both surveys, you’ll see that only 28 percent said that in the 2015 poll, compared to 45 percent in the Quinnipiac poll. And if we rewind eight more years to a late June 2007 survey from CBS News/New York Times, 71 percent of Democrats said they were paying “a lot” or “some” attention to the race, which is analogous to what Quinnipiac found in its June survey, with, once again, the share saying they were paying “a lot” of attention to the race (20 percent) much lower than what Quinnipiac has found in its 2019 polls.

So don’t read too much into that one AP-NORC survey. It turns out that Democrats may be paying as much attention as usual (or even more).

Other polling bites

  • A new report from the Pew Research Center shows a huge partisan gap over Americans’ attitudes toward capitalism and socialism. Republicans had sharply positive views of capitalism, with 78 percent holding a positive view and just 20 percent holding a negative one. But Democrats held mixed views: 55 percent had a positive impression while 44 percent had a negative one. Conversely, socialism was thoroughly disliked by Republicans, with only 15 percent holding a positive view and 84 percent holding a negative one. But Democrats were much more positive. Sixty-five percent had a positive impression and 33 percent had a negative one.4
  • New polling from Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group suggests that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might make a better target for Democratic candidates in 12 battleground states than President Trump. The survey, sponsored by campaign finance reform group End Citizens United, found Democrats ahead 48 percent to 45 percent on the generic ballot in those swing states. The pollster tested three different messages using McConnell, Trump and Republicans in Congress as foils to see how they changed voting intention. The language about McConnell produced the largest Democratic gain in the margin on the generic ballot — nine percentage points — while the language about Republicans in Congress and Trump increased the Democratic edge by six and three points, respectively.
  • According to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted just before the first Democratic debates, health care was the topic Democrats5 wanted to hear about most — 87 percent said it was very important for the candidates to talk about it. Other issues that were top priorities included: issues affecting women (80 percent), climate change (73 percent), gun policy (72 percent) and income inequality (70 percent).
  • Speaking of the debates, a number of candidates spoke in Spanish at different points, and YouGov recently found that 42 percent of Americans thought candidates are “pandering” when doing this versus 31 percent who believed they are being “respectful.” Among Democrats, 46 percent felt it was respectful compared to 32 percent who said it was pandering. Hispanic Americans also were more likely to view it as respectful (37 percent) than pandering (27 percent).
  • Young voters were an important part of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in 2016, and new polling from College Pulse found that Democratic college students6 are more supportive of the Vermont senator than other candidates. The group’s latest data showed Sanders with 26 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 20 percent, Biden at 17 percent and Pete Buttigieg at 10 percent. However, this represents continued improvement for Warren, who was in the single digits in April, while Sanders has slid from the low 30s to where he is now.
  • A new report from the Public Religion Research Institute found that only a relatively small share of Americans support refusing services to various minority groups for religious reasons, but that the share has increased in the past five years. Among the key findings was that 30 percent of Americans support business owners refusing service to LGBTQ individuals if it violates their religious beliefs. In 2014, only 16 percent of Americans supported this position.
  • Last week, President Trump decided to hold off on ordering a military strike against Iran, which had shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. A new HarrisX poll found that 26 percent of Americans support taking military action against Iran while 39 percent oppose such a move. Another 34 percent said they were not sure.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.3 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.7 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.4 points). At this time last week, 42.5 percent approved and 53.1 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -10.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 41.2 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.0 percent, for a net approval rating of -12.8 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 5.8 percentage points (46.1 percent to 40.3 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.2 points (46.0 percent to 39.8 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 5.0 points (45.4 percent to 40.4 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

 

No, Florida Is Not Redder Than Texas

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

The 2018 election saw some remarkable performances by Democrats — including, prominently, in the red state of Texas, where Democrat Beto O’Rourke came close to defeating Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But in Florida, which is usually considered a swing state, Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis won the Senate and gubernatorial races (albeit by razor-thin margins), respectively, even as the national political environment favored Democrats by almost 9 percentage points. This gave rise to a narrative among political observers that Florida may now be further out of Democrats’ reach than Texas is. But this … has never made a lot of sense to me, and a new poll has given my side of the argument some ammunition.

This week, Quinnipiac University released a survey of Florida voters that included six possible 2020 general-election matchups between President Trump and different Democratic candidates. It found Trump trailing his Democratic opponent in each case, with margins ranging from 1 to 9 percentage points. As luck would have it, Quinnipiac three weeks ago asked Texas voters about those six general-election matchups. In that poll, five of the six Democrats trailed Trump — only former Vice President Joe Biden beat him (by 4 points).

Now, to be clear, I’m not asking you to put a lot of stock in those individual matchup results — as my colleague Perry Bacon Jr. wrote in this space last week, polls of general-election matchups at this point in the election cycle aren’t terribly predictive of the eventual results. However, we can compare the results of the Texas and Florida polls with a recent national Quinnipiac survey that asked about five of the matchups to get a sense of how much more Republican each state is than the nation as a whole.

And as you can see in the table below, if we compare Quinnipiac’s Florida poll to the pollster’s national survey, it implies that the Sunshine State is about 4 points more Republican-leaning than the nation. Meanwhile, the Texas poll suggests that the Lone Star State is about 10 points more Republican-leaning than the country. So according to Quinnipiac at least (and to be fair, it’s just one pollster’s read on the landscape), Florida is still left of Texas in the national partisan pecking order.

Florida is still bluer than Texas

How five presidential candidates performed against Trump in hypothetical general-election matchups in Florida and Texas vs. nationally

Trump vs. National (June 6-10) Florida (June 12-17) Florida Difference
Biden D+13 D+9 R+4
Sanders D+9 D+6 R+3
Warren D+7 D+4 R+3
Harris D+8 D+1 R+7
Buttigieg D+5 D+1 R+4
Average R+4
Trump vs. National (June 6-10) Texas (May 29-June 4) texas Difference
Biden D+13 D+4 R+9
Sanders D+9 R+3 R+12
Warren D+7 R+1 R+8
Harris D+8 R+4 R+12
Buttigieg D+5 R+2 R+7
Average R+10

Source: Quinnipiac University

I think the reason people have rushed to re-shade Florida from purple to red has to do with misplaced perceptions. Florida went blue in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and red in 2016, leading many to think of it as a bellwether state. But in each of those years, the Democratic presidential candidate did worse in Florida than they did in the national popular vote, so the state was actually a bit red relative to the country as a whole. The results in 2018 were consistent with that.

It’s not that I don’t agree that Florida is a Republican-leaning state — I do think it is light red. But I fear that people are overcompensating for (wrongly) considering it perfectly purple before 2018 by now considering it stubbornly Republican. And while Texas appears to be drifting toward the middle, for now at least, both polling and election results suggest that it is still redder than Florida.

Other polling bites

  • For all the ink spilled about the rules for qualifying for the Democratic presidential debates, a Politico/Morning Consult poll reveals that most Democrats are tuning out the griping. Sixty-one percent of voters who plan to participate in the Democratic primaries said they haven’t heard much, if anything, about some candidates’ criticisms of the debate rules. Instead, many seem content to trust the Democratic National Committee — 54 percent said the DNC is doing a “very” or “somewhat” fair job at running the debates, 33 percent didn’t know or had no opinion, and 13 percent thought the process was being handled “somewhat” or “very” unfairly.
  • Most Democratic presidential candidates — and most Americans — support “Medicare for All,” but there’s a lot of ambiguity in what that term means. According to a poll conducted by Global Strategy Group, 60 percent think it refers to a “plan that lets anyone buy Medicare instead of their current private insurance, if they want to,” while 40 percent believe it “makes everyone get rid of their current private insurance and switch over to Medicare.”
  • In reaction to the May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach, Gov. Ralph Northam called a special session of the Virginia legislature to enact gun control legislation. And a new Public Policy Polling survey sponsored by a pro-gun control group found that among Virginians in four key Republican-held legislative districts, 62 percent of respondents supported a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles, and 63 percent favored a ban on high-capacity magazines (one of which was used in the Virginia Beach shooting).
  • In hopes of eating into Biden’s polling lead, some campaign rivals have tried to attack Biden over his support for the 1994 crime bill that many now argue contributed to the problem of mass incarceration in the U.S. However, a HuffPost/YouGov survey reveals why that might not work: Many Democrats simply don’t seem to know much about the law. Forty-one percent said they are “not very” or “not at all” familiar with the crime bill, and 58 percent said they were not sure which 2020 candidates supported it.
  • Chances are the “song of the summer” has already been released, so Ipsos is asking Americans what they think it will be. Out of 13 options, Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Old Town Road” came in first place, with 20 percent of respondents naming it; in second was “ME!” by Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie, garnering 10 percent of the vote.
  • Across the pond, YouGov asked members of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party what they would be willing to risk in order to realize the country’s exit from the European Union. Respondents said they were willing to endure significant damage to the U.K. economy (61 percent to 29 percent) and even the destruction of the Conservative Party itself (54 percent to 36 percent). However, there was a line that Tories were unwilling to cross. Respondents said 51 percent to 39 percent that they were not willing to achieve Brexit if it meant electing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.6 points). At this time last week, 42.3 percent approved and 52.9 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -10.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 41.8 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -11.5 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 6.2 percentage points (46.0 percent to 39.8 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 6.2 points (46.1 percent to 39.9 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 5.0 points (45.4 percent to 40.4 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

Most Americans Agree That WWII Was Justified. Recent Conflicts Are More Divisive.

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

On Thursday, Americans both at home and abroad commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the seaborne invasion of France that helped usher in an Allied victory in World War II. The widespread observance of the occasion was hardly surprising; most Americans see World War II as a proud moment in U.S. history. A full 66 percent of Americans said they thought the U.S. role in World War II was “completely” or “somewhat” justified, according to a YouGov poll out this week, while just 14 percent said it was “not very” or “not at all” justified.

That makes World War II the most popular U.S. military engagement of the eight that the poll asked about, as measured by the net share of people who said it was justified (+52). The American Revolution came in second (+47); 61 percent said it was justified and 14 percent said it was not justified. (Yes, apparently after nearly 250 years, there are still some Loyalists out there!) Americans’ perceptions of more recent wars are more complicated. For some of those conflicts, a greater share of people said they see them as unjustified than see them as justified. One of those is the Vietnam War, which 55 percent said was not justified and 22 percent said was justified.

The Civil War is the third-most-supported war in the poll, with 54 percent of Americans saying it was justified and 22 percent saying it wasn’t. Perhaps surprisingly, about the same share of Southerners said the war was unjustified as residents of other regions. Respondents from the South said the Civil War was justified by a 52-percent-to-23-percent margin. As anyone who has seen a Confederate flag in Maine can tell you, Confederate sympathies can be found in all corners of the country.

Similarly, there weren’t big partisan differences on the U.S.’s involvement in the Civil War. About the same share of Republicans (61 percent) as Democrats (57 percent) said they thought it was justified.

But there’s a catch. These numbers may have less to do with the historical reasons behind the war and more to do with Americans’ philosophies about going to war in general. In answer to a different question, 59 percent of Republicans told YouGov that there is “often” or “always” a justification for war, while 29 percent said there is “rarely” or “never” a justification. Among Democrats, those numbers were 21 percent and 66 percent, respectively. 10 Unsurprisingly, then, Republicans are more supportive on net than Democrats of every conflict YouGov asked about — but the gap between the parties is smallest on the Civil War.

More Republicans than Democrats think wars are justified

Share of each party that said a given conflict is “completely” or “somewhat” justified vs. “not very” or “not at all” justified, according to a May 21-22 poll

Democrats Republicans
Conflict Justified Not justified Net Justified Not justified Net Diff.
Afghanistan 26% 55% -29 56% 27% +29 R+58
First Gulf War 28 47 -19 58 20 +38 R+57
Korean War 30 40 -10 56 17 +39 R+49
Vietnam War 14 68 -54 37 44 -7 R+47
World War I 51 27 +24 68 14 +54 R+30
American Revolution 60 18 +42 74 7 +67 R+25
World War II 67 17 +50 77 9 +68 R+18
Civil War 57 24 +33 61 18 +43 R+10

Source: YouGov

Overall, Democrats tended to view older wars (World War II and earlier) as justified, bringing them in closer agreement with Republicans. After the Civil War, the parties are closest together on World War II and the American Revolution. But there is more partisan polarization over more recent wars. For example, Republicans said by a +29 net margin that the current military engagement in Afghanistan is justified, while Democrats said it was not justified by the same margin (-29). The Vietnam War is the only conflict in the poll that both parties said was not justified. But a large majority of Democrats felt very strongly about it while Republicans were divided, so there remains a significant gap between the parties.

Other polling bites

  • In a press conference on May 29, then-special counsel Robert Mueller said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” In a survey released this Monday, HuffPost and YouGov asked Americans who were aware of that statement whether they thought Mueller’s report had or had not cleared President Trump of any wrongdoing. Seventy-four percent of Trump voters said they thought it had. They were more likely to say that than Trump voters who were not aware of Mueller’s statement.
  • So far in 2019, several states have passed “fetal heartbeat” laws that ban abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. A new USA Today/Ipsos poll found that Americans oppose these laws 55 percent to 45 percent. In addition, as Missouri may soon become the first state without an abortion clinic, Americans said 73 percent to 27 percent that they don’t want every abortion clinic in their state to close.
  • Morning Consult’s continuous poll of the Democratic presidential primary found that the share of Democrats who say “women’s issues” are their top priority rose from 6 percent to 14 percent in the month of May.
  • In a new poll from Monmouth University, 27 percent of Americans said someone in their household did not receive needed medical care in the past two years because of the cost. And 20 percent reported that the need to hold onto their health insurance plan had prevented them from trying to change jobs at least once in the past 10 years.
  • An Opinium poll in the United Kingdom has put the nascent Brexit Party in first place for U.K. parliamentary elections for the first time. When asked which party they would support, 26 percent said the Brexit Party, 22 percent said Labour, 17 said the Conservatives and 16 percent said the Liberal Democrats. Multiple other polls in the past couple of weeks have shown a similar four-way pileup at the top, a remarkable shift from the traditional two-party dominance of Labour and the Conservatives. It reflects how much Brexit has come to dominate U.K. politics — the Liberal Democrats and Brexit are explicitly pro- and anti-European Union, respectively, while Labour and Conservative opinion is muddled.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -12.1 points). At this time last week, 41.2 percent approved and 54.2 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -13.0 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 52.4 percent (for a net approval rating of -9.7 points).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

A Lot Of Americans Say They Don’t Want A President Who Is Over 70. Really?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

Gallup recently released new data on Americans’ willingness to vote for presidential candidates with certain traits. About 1,000 adults were asked3 whether they’d vote for a well-qualified candidate who was nominated by their party and was black, gay or had one of 10 other characteristics that are rarely or never seen in presidential nominees.

Almost all Americans said they’d be comfortable voting for a woman (94 percent), or a Catholic (95 percent), Hispanic (95 percent) or black (96 percent) candidate. But there are characteristics that big swaths of Americans said would be disqualifying — in particular being older than 70, being an atheist and being a socialist.

What types of candidates would Americans NOT vote for?

Share of respondents to an April survey who said they would not vote for a “generally well-qualified” presidential candidate from their own party if the candidate had each of the following characteristics

Democrats Independents Republicans Overall
Socialist 24% 48% 80% 51%
Atheist 28 33 56 39
Older than 70 35 37 37 37
Muslim 14 26 62 33
Younger than 40 21 28 34 28
Gay or lesbian 17 18 39 24
Evangelical Christian 27 20 6 18
Jewish 5 9 5 7
Woman 3 6 9 6
Catholic 4 6 3 5
Hispanic 3 3 8 5
Black 1 4 5 3

Source: Gallup

These results are fairly similar to what Gallup found when it previously asked this question, in 2015. There were a couple of interesting exceptions, however. Americans in 2019 said they were slightly more comfortable with a candidate who is an evangelical Christian (the share who said they’d vote for such a candidate rose from 73 percent in 2015 to 80 percent this year) or a Muslim (from 60 percent to 66 percent). Socialists, meanwhile, remained unpopular (47 percent in both 2015 and 2019).

So with Democrats obsessed with finding an “electable” candidate, does this mean that Bernie Sanders (who’s over 70 and identifies as a democratic socialist) and Joe Biden (who’s over 70) have big problems? Not so fast. So how seriously am I taking these numbers?

For the 2020 presidential election, I’m not taking them too seriously. Thirty-seven percent of Republicans said they would not back a GOP presidential candidate over the age of 70. Well … yep, President Trump was 70 on Election Day in 2016, and he’ll be 74 in 2020. I’ll bet that more than 63 percent of Republicans will vote for him — his job approval rating among GOP voters is currently in the 90s. In short, it’s important to remember that the survey question asks about categories of people, not individuals. The negative feelings that some Americans might have toward the idea of a gay or socialist presidential candidate, for example, might not apply to Pete Buttigieg or Sanders specifically.

On the other hand, these numbers could be understating some Americans’ resistance to certain characteristics. In particular, I’d view the numbers on ethnicity, race and gender skeptically. It could be true that virtually all Americans are comfortable with a black, female or Hispanic president, as the Gallup data implies. But I’d expect Americans who aren’t comfortable to be unlikely to express that view to a pollster. So I wouldn’t use this data to suggest that, say, Julian Castro wouldn’t run into electoral problems caused by racism or Elizabeth Warren because of sexism if either were the Democratic nominee.

In terms of which groups might face overt discrimation in the U.S., I’m taking these numbers more seriously. The results generally lined up with my expectations of which categories of people Americans are both somewhat wary of and willing to say so to another person.

Being a socialist is an expression of left-wing political views, so it’s natural and unsurprising that a lot of Americans, particularly Republicans, would openly oppose a socialist candidate. Similarly, it’s not surprising that some Americans wouldn’t want a president who is in her 70s as president (maybe they suspect that person wouldn’t have the energy for the job) or who is younger than 40 (a lack of experience). This is also a view that is perhaps not particularly controversial to express — columns suggesting that Biden (76) and Sanders (77) are too old to be running for president are published regularly.

What views about candidates are more controversial? Disqualifying people based on gender, race, ethnicity or sexuality. Again, I’d expect some Americans with negative attitudes toward certain religious groups, racial groups and sexual orientations not to admit that to a pollster.

Here’s where it gets interesting, however: The share of Americans who were willing to tell a pollster that they would not back an atheist, evangelical Christian, gay or Muslim presidential candidate was nonetheless fairly high. That lines up with how these four groups are treated in American culture — they face open, direct criticism based on their identities. (I don’t want to cast all parties as equal here — Republicans’ high level of opposition to an atheist or Muslim candidate jumps out.)

In terms of understanding the diversity of the Democratic Party, I’m taking these numbers very seriously. I’ve written that Biden is essentially the candidate of the un-woke Democrat (or maybe “less woke” is more accurate) and that those voters still represent a substantial bloc of the Democratic Party. This data is more evidence of that bloc’s existence. I was surprised that the share of Democrats who are uncomfortable with an evangelical Christian president was matched by about an equal share wary of a president who is an atheist or a socialist, since the Democratic Party is often characterized as becoming less religious and more liberal on economic issues. The share of Democrats who said they would not vote for a gay or Muslim candidate was also larger than I anticipated.

Other polling bites

  • 46 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in South Carolina say they would vote for Biden, according to a new Post and Courier/Change Research poll, with only two of his rivals reaching double digits. Sanders (15 percent) and Kamala Harris (10 percent) are far behind the former vice president, as is the rest of the 2020 Democratic field.
  • Biden leads in Pennsylvania too, with 39 percent of the vote, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey. The only other candidate in double digits was Sanders (13 percent).
  • The Quinnipiac survey also found Biden leading Trump 53 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania in a hypothetical general election matchup. Sanders also bested Trump (50-43).
  • In the Republican nomination contest, Trump leads former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld 72 percent to 12 percent in New Hampshire, according to a recent Monmouth University survey.
  • 61 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, and 31 percent oppose it, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Support for same-sex marriage varied by party (75 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, compared with 44 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents). It varied by race (62 percent of white Americans, 58 percent of Hispanic Americans, 51 percent of black Americans). And it varied by religion (79 percent of those who are religiously unaffiliated, 66 percent of white mainline Protestants, 61 percent of Catholics, 29 percent of white evangelical Protestants).
  • 47 percent of registered voters rated the economy as “excellent” or “good,” according to a new Fox News poll.
  • Also from that Fox News poll: The share of voters who said Trump hasn’t been tough enough with North Korea is up to 50 percent; that number was 19 percent in September 2017.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.0 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -11.1 points). At this time last week, 42.4 percent approved and 52.7 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -10.3 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.1 percent and a disapproval rating of 52.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.2 points.

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

Trump’s National Emergency Policy Is Unpopular, But Not Really Unpopular

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency in order to build more physical barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border was generally unpopular, but polls suggest the move has very high support among Republicans. That dynamic could be important as Trump seeks to overcome challenges to his new policy both on Capitol Hill and in the courts.

Two polls conducted entirely after the emergency declaration show a majority of Americans don’t like it: An NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll that came out Tuesday showed a 61-36 split against Trump’s policy, and a Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Wednesday found 39 percent in support, 51 percent opposed. A HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted the day before and the day of the emergency declaration found similar results — 37 percent of Americans said they approved of the move, compared with 55 percent who disapproved.

These numbers don’t surprise me — they generally mirror Trump’s overall job approval ratings. For much of the past two years, around 40 percent of Americans have approved of the president’s performance, while a clear majority has disapproved. Similarly, overall support for the national emergency declaration is in the upper 30s in the polls we have so far. That’s because Republicans have lined up solidly behind it, according to both polls conducted after the declaration was made — the NPR poll found 85 percent support within the GOP, and the Morning Consult survey found 77 percent support. The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 84 percent of Trump voters supported the declaration, although that poll was already underway when the declaration was made, so some respondents were asked about the move before it became official while others were asked after the announcement.

It’s not surprising that large numbers of Republicans supported Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency — GOP voters overwhelmingly approve of him. But high party support for a Trump policy is not always a given. For example, the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border was significantly more unpopular within the party than the emergency declaration is — a FiveThirtyEight average of polls found that only about half of Republicans were on board with the separations. And while a majority of Republicans supported both the failed 2017 health care bill meant to replace Obamacare (67 percent) and the GOP tax plan passed the same year (64 percent), they did so at rates 10 to 20 points lower than we’re seeing on the national emergency policy.

Being backed only by Republican voters still isn’t great for the president. His base alone likely won’t be sufficient to win re-election. But in terms of policy, Trump tends to reverse himself only if there is a breadth of opposition that encompasses more than just Democrats and independents. That kind of opposition tends to create a feedback loop that’s hard to ignore — so, for example, the media criticizes something Trump does or says, establishment Republicans join in, and then the media prominently features those GOP critics in its coverage. Some Republican elected officials were initially wary of Trump declaring a national emergency, but I wonder if they will reconsider that posture after seeing these polls. And with few prominent Republicans willing to cast the national emergency policy as an “extraordinary violation of constitutional norms,” as The New York Times described it last week, I suspect the media will feel pressured to cover this debate as a traditional partisan dispute and so will back off from sharper condemnations of Trump.

Like the media, the courts are sometimes hesitant to take strong stands on partisan disputes. So they may be more reluctant to strike down Trump’s policy than they would be if it had gotten more of a mixed reaction from both sides of the aisle.

But the biggest reason these polls matter is they can affect what happens on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this week that the House will likely hold a vote to overturn the emergency declaration. If such a measure passed both houses of Congress but was vetoed by Trump, Congress would need a two-thirds majority of both chambers to override the veto. That would require 53 Republicans in the House and 20 in the Senate to break with the president. I thought that was unlikely even before these polls came out. Now, seeing almost universal support for Trump’s declaration among Republican voters, it’s even harder to imagine a large bloc of Republicans in Congress breaking with the president, which means this policy is likely to survive.

Other polling nuggets

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced whether he will enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race, leads in South Carolina with 36 percent of the vote, according to a new Change Research survey that was provided to the Palmetto State-based Post and Courier newspaper. Also in double digits were Bernie Sanders (14 percent), Kamala Harris (13 percent) and Cory Booker (10 percent). Twelve other Democrats who either have officially entered the race or are rumored to be considering presidential runs were in single digits.
  • Biden is also ahead in New Hampshire, with 28 percent of the vote, according to a University of Massachusetts, Amherst, poll. Sanders is in second place with 20 percent, and Harris is in third with 14 percent. Seven other Democrats that were included in the survey are in single digits.
  • An average of 54 percent of white Democrats identified as politically “liberal” during the six-year period from 2013 to 2018, according to data released by Gallup this week. That compares with 38 percent of Latino Democrats and 33 percent of black Democrats. There was also variation by education level — Democrats with postgraduate degrees were the most likely to describe themselves as liberal (65 percent), followed by Democrats with undergraduate degrees (58 percent), those who attended college but don’t have degrees (45 percent) and those with high school educations or less (32 percent).
  • The same Gallup survey found major differences among liberal and conservative Democrats on a few issues: 81 percent of liberal Democrats think marijuana should be legal, for example, compared with 44 percent of conservative Democrats. Sixty-four percent of liberal Democrats oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder, compared with 39 percent of conservative Democrats.
  • 45 percent of Democrats said they would be somewhat or very unhappy if their son or daughter married a supporter of the Republican Party, according to a PPRI/Atlantic survey released this week. Thirty-five percent of Republicans said they would be unhappy if their child married a Democrat. Higher shares of Republicans were concerned about their child marrying someone of the same gender (58 percent unhappy) or someone who identified as transgender (70 percent).
  • More than 60 percent of Americans said that the government should pursue policies to reduce the wealth gap and that they support a 2 percent tax on wealth above $50 million, according to a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey that was published by The New York Times this week. Opinion is more divided (51 percent support, 45 percent oppose) on a marginal tax rate of 70 percent on income above $10 million a year.
  • Just 17 percent of Virginians said they approved of the job performance of the state’s embattled governor, Ralph Northam (who has denied that he was in a racist photo on his page in his medical school yearbook but has admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s), according to an Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics survey released this week. Thirty-four percent said they disapproved of Northam, while 44 percent said they neither approved nor disapproved. The good news for Northam is that only 31 percent of Virginians said they think he should resign, compared with 43 percent who said they don’t think he should resign. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault, has a slightly worse standing — 35 percent of Virginia residents said they think he should resign, while 25 percent said that he shouldn’t. (The other 40 percent are in neither camp.)
  • A new Quinnipiac University survey of Virginia voters found better job approval numbers for Northam (39 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove). And in this poll too, a plurality (48 percent) of Virginians said he shouldn’t resign.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.5 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53.2 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.7 points). At this time last week, 41.5 percent approved and 54.1 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -12.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 40.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 55.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -15.3 points.


From ABC News:


Independents Trust Mueller, Which Could Be Bad News For Trump

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

A new survey has found that most Americans trust special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election — although opinion is sharply split along partisan lines. Yet Mueller still receives higher marks than 1990s independent counsel Ken Starr, who faced a similar partisan divide. If party loyalty hasn’t changed in the past 20 years, what has? The views of independent voters.

According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released this week, 51 percent of adults approve of the way Mueller is handling the investigation, while 34 percent disapprove. Similarly, 57 percent think Mueller is mostly interested in uncovering the truth, while 36 percent think he’s out to hurt President Trump politically. By contrast, a majority of Americans thought Starr was mainly interested in hurting then-President Bill Clinton politically in the Whitewater investigation.

During both the Starr and Mueller probes, members of the president’s party were convinced that the investigators had the knives out for their president, and members of the opposition party believed the investigators had noble intentions. Since the partisan divides are similar in both cases, independent voters are the main drivers behind the difference in overall public opinion. In 1998, as the Whitewater investigation was wrapping up, 59 percent of independents told the Post that they thought Starr’s investigation was politically motivated. This year, 57 percent said they have faith in Mueller.

The poll also suggests that independents may be the deciding factor in whether the public supports Trump’s impeachment, if it comes to that. Per the Post poll, if Mueller’s report finds that Trump obstructed justice by trying to undermine the Russia investigation, Americans believe — 65 percent to 29 percent — that Congress should impeach Trump and try to remove him from office.8 And if the report concludes that Trump authorized his campaign staff to collude with Russia, Americans support impeachment and attempted removal by a similar margin: 61 percent to 33 percent.

Those numbers may seem surprisingly high. But impeachment is a political process and, quite frankly, a partisan one. According to this poll and many others, most Democrats already support beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump — so right off that bat, that’s a sizable chunk of the country in favor. And this poll added a conditional to its question: “If Mueller’s report concludes….” Since independents mostly see Mueller as a fair judge, it makes sense that most of them would support impeachment if Mueller finds grounds for it. And indeed they do, at least in this poll: 61 percent support impeachment if Trump approved coordination with the Russian government, and 68 percent support impeachment if he obstructed justice.

By contrast, independents were not on board with attempts to remove Clinton from office, even after Starr’s report recommended impeachment. A Post/ABC News poll from December 1998 found that three out of four independents said that Clinton should not be removed from office. Most Republicans wanted Clinton removed, while most Democrats wanted him to stay put. Overall, support for removal sat at just 33 percent.

A key difference may have been that Americans, especially independents, were not convinced that Starr had proved his case. The public widely believed that the inclusion of explicit sexual details in the Starr report was inappropriate, and, as previously mentioned, independents did not believe Starr was conducting an impartial investigation. It’s possible that, if the Mueller report is publicly released, people will find his conclusions similarly lacking. But the questions from this week’s poll suggest that the public would believe Mueller if he concludes Trump committed a crime. Of course, that’s a big if; should Mueller stop short of such a declaration, it’s a safe bet that support for impeachment would not be in the 60s.

Other polling nuggets

  • According to another Washington Post-Schar School poll, 47 percent of Virginians think their governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, should resign in the wake of the revelation that there is a racist photo on his page in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Another 47 percent said Northam should remain in office. Northam originally apologized and said he was one of the people in the photo (which features one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe). But Northam reversed himself the next day. He currently maintains he was not in the photo but has admitted to wearing blackface on a different occasion.
  • A poll conducted for The New York Times Upshot by Morning Consult found that 5 percent of U.S. adults admitted to wearing blackface at some point in their lives. Twenty percent said they’d seen someone wearing blackface.
  • According to a different Morning Consult survey, for Politico, Republicans are more willing than Democrats to vote for a politician from their own party who has been accused of either wearing blackface or committing sexual misconduct. However, committing tax fraud and misusing taxpayer dollars, among some other scandals, were about equally likely to be deal-breakers for members of both parties.
  • According to a survey by HuffPost/YouGov, 42 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is too extreme. Forty percent think the Republican Party is too extreme. But in both cases, those people tend to be members of the opposite party; only 12 percent of members of each party find their own party too extreme. And only 11 percent of Americans think both parties are too extreme.
  • ScottRasmussen.com and HarrisX found that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the most popular Supreme Court justice, based on the share of registered voters who say they have a “very” or “somewhat” favorable view of her (43 percent). Brett Kavanaugh is the best-known justice — only 9 percent of respondents have never heard of him — but that fame comes at a cost: He also has the highest unfavorable rating of any justice, with 34 percent viewing him in a negative light. Stephen Breyer has the lowest name recognition of any justice; 32 percent said they’ve never heard of him.
  • Amazon has canceled its plan to build a headquarters in New York City in the face of opposition from residents and some politicians. However, a Siena College poll of registered voters in New York state that was released before Thursday’s announcement found that 56 percent approved of the package of tax incentives that New York used to lure the company, while 36 percent disapproved. In New York City alone, 58 percent approved and 35 percent disapproved.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.5 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 54.1 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -12.6 points). At this time last week, 40.1 percent approved and 55.3 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -15.2 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 40.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 54.4 percent, for a net approval rating of -13.7 points.


From ABC News: