Hillary Clinton Regains Popularity Vote

Gallup: “Hillary Clinton has reclaimed her position as the best-liked presidential candidate among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, a sign that her candidacy is recovering a key advantage she recently surrendered to rival Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s net favorable score stands at +55 for the week of Feb. 18-24, 2016, a 10-percentage-point increase from her low point recorded over Jan. 27-Feb.10. This latter time period overlapped with her landslide loss to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. Sanders’ net favorable over the past week, by contrast, stands at +44, well below Clinton’s score and a steep fall from the +57 he boasted in late January/early February.”

Net Favorable Ratings of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Among Democrats/Leaners

Is the Unemployment Rate an Accurate Measure of the Economy?

Ben Casselman in Five Thirty Eight asks: “Is the unemployment rate, now at 4.9 percent, an accurate reflection of the health of the economy?”

The latest annual Economic Report of the President, released Monday, President Obama’s top economic advisers “said that the people who gave up looking for work during the recession have by now largely returned to the labor force.”

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“The White House, of course, has an incentive to make the economy look as good as possible. So as a check on their number, I built my own simple model (an updated version of the one I used in this story a few years ago) to estimate how many people are still missing from the official unemployment rate … My model estimates there are as many as 1.5 million people who should be included in the unemployment rate. That’s triple the White House’s estimate, but it still implies the ‘real’ unemployment rate is down to 5.8 percent.”

“If there are really hundreds of thousands or even millions of willing workers just waiting to get back into the labor market, that means there is room for job growth to continue without driving up inflation. The participation rate has edged up in recent months, suggesting that the stronger economy is drawing workers off the sidelines. Next week’s jobs report will give the latest sign of whether that trend is continuing.”

Trump Politics is American Politics

David Brooks: “People say that Trump is an unconventional candidate and that he represents a break from politics as usual. That’s not true. Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.”

“Trump represents the path the founders rejected. There is a hint of violence undergirding his campaign … Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.”

“This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements.”

Americans Want to Improve, Not Repeal, Obamacare

The Kaiser Family Foundation 2/25/16 Newsletter reports on the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which finds the “public as divided as the remaining presidential candidates over their vision for the future of the nation’s health care system.”

“When asked to choose among four broad approaches for changing the health care system currently being discussed, the largest share (36%) say lawmakers should build on the Affordable Care Act to improve affordability and access to care, while fewer choose establishing guaranteed coverage through a single government plan (24%), repealing the ACA and not replacing it (16%), or repealing the law and replacing it with a Republican alternative (13%).”

Figure 2: Views of the Future of the U.S. Health Care System

“The survey also finds that the words to describe such a plan clearly affect how people view it … When asked directly about “guaranteed health insurance coverage in which all Americans would get their insurance through a single government health plan,” the poll finds half (50%) in favor and 43 percent opposed. Majorities of Democrats (70%) and independents (54%) support the concept, while few Republicans (20%) do.”

“The poll also finds the public’s view of the ACA largely stable so far this year, with 46 percent holding an unfavorable view of the law and 41 percent holding a favorable view.”

Republican Lawmakers Receive Failing Grades on Environmental Report Card

Think Progress: “Congress’ annual environmental scorecard is out, and it doesn’t look good for Republican lawmakers and some presidential candidates.”

“The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard gave House Republicans an average score of 3 percent, while Senate Republicans got just 5 percent. Republican Presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) both got scores of zero, as they issued what the report calls the “anti-environment vote” every time throughout 2015.”

“The 2015 scorecard describes a Republican-led Congress that the report calls ‘the most anti-environmental Congress in our nation’s history.’”

 

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What Happened to Moderate Voters?

Philip Bump: “We’ve noted previously that Sanders’s party is more likely to refer to itself as liberal than it used to be, according to polling from Gallup. The Democrats still have more space under their umbrella for moderates, but they’re getting crowded out.”

“The Republicans, on the other hand, have been consistently and heavily conservative for some time.”

“That Democrats identify themselves as moving to the left across the board may help explain why Hillary Clinton is running further to the left than she did in 2008 — which helps explain why she’s been successful. (No data for Nevada in 2004 was available.)”

“The question is the extent to which this will be a long-term trend. Will the Democrats keep moving left, further polarizing the electorate? Or could a moderate candidate do well on other side and reshape who turns out?”

Economic Recovery is not as Rosy as it Seems

Lydia dePillis in The Washington Post examines whether the recent uptick in high-wage jobs indicates that the U.S. job market has made a full recovery.

“First of all, the economy is digging out of a big hole. This graph, from a 2014 paper by MIT economist David Autor, shows how in the period between 1999 and 2007 the share of low-wage occupations increased a lot, while middle and high-wage occupations were basically flat. Over the next five years represented by the green line, there was large growth in both low and high-wage occupations, while middle-wage occupations lost ground.”

A Dramatic Drop in New York’s Uninsured Rate

Associated Press: The New York Health Exchange says more than 2.8 million people have signed up for Medicaid and low-cost insurance through its 2016 open enrollment that ended Jan. 31.

According to state health officials, federal data show the number of uninsured New Yorkers has declined by nearly 850,000 since the exchange opened in 2013, dropping from 10 percent to 5 percent by last September.

The enrollment totals include 1,966,920 people in government-funded Medicaid

What Motivates Republican Voters?

Philip Bump asks what’s the “thing that’s turned Donald Trump from the never-gonna-happen outsider of last June into the how-can-he-be-stopped candidate of February? Nevada offers one hint: Anger.”

“Trump wasn’t supposed to win Hispanics, but he appears to have won them … Trump wasn’t supposed to win evangelicals in South Carolina or here, really, but he won them in both. In Nevada, he won 4 out of every 10 evangelical votes. He wasn’t supposed to win conservatives. Won ’em — even the ‘very conservative’ ones. Wasn’t supposed to win better educated voters. Won ’em.”

“This is an electorate that does not care about what it is supposed to do. Voters who decided later, those who took their time and considered the candidates, one would assume, went more heavily for Marco Rubio than Trump. It’s one of the few groups he lost. But the people who’ve been mad at politics for a long time and decided weeks ago who they were going to back? More than half backed Trump.”

 

Most Americans Want Senate to Act on SCOTUS Nominee

Pew: “In the high-stakes battle over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a majority of Americans (56%) say the Senate should hold hearings and vote on President Obama’s choice to fill the vacancy. About four-in-ten (38%) say the Senate should not hold hearings until the next president selects a court nominee.”

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“Two-thirds of Republicans (66%) – including 71% of conservative Republicans – say the Senate should not hold hearings on Scalia’s replacement until the next president selects a nominee. An even larger share of Democrats (79%) say the Senate should hold hearings and vote on whomever Obama nominates; among liberal Democrats, fully 85% express this view.”

Most Uninsured Escape Obamacare Penalty

The Hill: “Nearly three in four people who lacked health insurance last year were exempt from the penalty under ObamaCare, according to data from the tax-filing software TurboTax.”

“A total of 70 percent of people filed an exemption to ObamaCare’s individual mandate, about the same figure as last year, according to TurboTax.”

“The two most common exemptions were related to the cost of coverage. Many people without coverage said they couldn’t afford healthcare plans in their area or couldn’t afford plans through their workplace.”

“The other common exemptions were related to a recent eviction or the death of a family member.”

“The number of people seeking cost-related exemptions poses a challenge to the Obama administration, which has made affordability a central part of its strategy to reduce the uninsured.”