Demographics

It’s About the Economy, Stupid

Gallup: “More than six in 10 Republicans and independents who lean Republican say Donald Trump would be best at dealing with the economy/jobs and the federal budget deficit as president, compared with less than 20% who pick either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.”

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“Republicans choose Donald Trump, who promises to “make America great again” — as the best GOP candidate for handling the economy and federal budget deficit as president. These strengths appear to be at the core of his support, tying in with the persistent economic anxiety Republicans express on a host of Gallup measures, such as confidence in the economy and their own economic progress.”

“At the same time, Republicans — including many who favor his nomination — seem to be well aware that Trump has weaknesses. They implicitly acknowledge Trump’s unusual brashness, giving Rubio the most credit for having the right temperament to be president. Republicans also acknowledge that Trump is not the most conservative candidate, giving Cruz credit for the conservatism that has become his signature message. Given that Republicans in this poll favor Trump to win their party’s nomination, they appear to be willing to overlook the front-runner’s deficiencies.”

Democrats’ Apathy About Candidates Could Hurt Voter Turnout

Gallup: “In November, and again in January and February, we asked Americans, just after they told us what they consider to be the most important problem facing the nation, whether they think any of the presidential candidates have come up with good ideas for solving that problem or not.”

“A little more than half of Americans — 52% — said yes in February. That’s up slightly from January and November. Forty percent say ‘no,’ and the rest say they don’t know.”

“These views vary quite a bit by partisanship, and this becomes a significant finding. Republicans are more positive than Democrats. To be specific, 65% of Republicans say a candidate has come up with good ideas for solving the most important problem facing the nation, compared with 45% of independents and 49% of Democrats.”

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“Bottom line: This lack of conviction among Democrats that candidates have answers, along with other indicators of lower enthusiasm about the election, could portend poorly for Democratic turnout next November, providing a distinct advantage for Republicans.”

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

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?”

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.”

More Money Equals Less Work, Unless You’re an American

Christopher Ingraham: “The American work ethic can basically be boiled down to one well-worn phrase: “Work hard, play hard.” But new research from a pair of Stanford University economists suggests we are failing, miserably, at the latter half of that maxim.”

“As countries get wealthier, their annual hours worked per capita tend to decrease, at least in the sample examined here by economists Charles Jones and Peter Klenow. They measure GDP in fractions of U.S. GDP, because they’re most interested in how other countries stack up to the United States in terms of economic well-being. For instance, Russia’s GDP per capita is less than half of that in the United States, so it lands halfway down the chart’s X axis.”

“We didn’t trade our productivity gains for more time, we traded them instead for more stuff.”

“The Stanford economists make the latest contribution to the genre with their measure that “combines data on consumption, leisure, inequality, and mortality.” They find that when you throw these other qualities into the mix, the economic well-being gap between the United States and other wealthy countries shrinks — but it doesn’t disappear completely.”

The Democratic Race: ‘Dishonest’ Vs. ‘Socialist’

Gallup: “Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have multifaceted images among the American public. But the most common responses Americans give when asked to say what comes to mind when they think of each are “dishonest” and “dislike her” for Clinton, and “socialist” and “old” for Sanders. On the positive side, a fair number of Americans view Clinton as capable and experienced, and Sanders as a fresh face and honest.”

Top Unaided Reactions to "Hillary Clinton," February 2016

Life Expectancy Gap Between Rich and Poor is Growing

Daily Kos: another study, this time from the Brookings Institution, has confirmed that there’s something going on with life expectancies, and it’s increasingly related to inequality.​​

“Looking at the extreme ends of the income spectrum, economists at the Brookings Institution found that for men born in 1920, there was a six-year difference in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of earners and the bottom 10 percent. For men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years. For women, the gap grew to 13 years, from 4.7 years.”
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“Limited access to health care doesn’t account for many of the nation’s premature deaths. More than anything, the gap, again, seems to be behavioral, starting with smoking.”

“Two other factors are the rise in deaths related to drug overdoses (including prescription drugs), and the rise in obesity. However, obesity may not be the main driver of the income disparity, if only because obesity is something that’s increasing on all sides of the income divide: In 2010, the number had risen to the point where 37 percent of adults at the lower end of the income ladder were obese, compared with 31 percent at the higher end.”

What Does the Post-Obama Black Electorate Look Like?

Theodore Johnson, writing in The Atlantic, argues that ‘The nation is witnessing the emergence of a post-Obama black electorate. It is a constituency that has grown impatient with elected officials’ generational promises that their programs will eventually pull blacks from the doldrums of society into a fairer America where opportunity is accessible and hard work is rewarded equally. To combat institutional lethargy, this wave of young people is employing a variety of tactics—from protest to pop culture—to influence the political agenda. They are the offspring of six decades of activism, growing voting power, and increased intra-racial class diversity.”

“If recent trends are sufficient indication, the post-Obama black electorate will probably be characterized by three things: stratified voter participation, increased reliance on alternative methods of political pressure, and initial signs of growing partisan and political diversity.”

“Older blacks are more likely to rely on the vote to bring about policy change, whereas young voters place less confidence in electoral strategies. In the short-term, this may translate to an overall drop in black voter participation rates. But decreased voter turnout should not be mistaken for disinterest.”

“The post-Obama bloc employs a different strategy to bring about change—one rooted in creativity and energy. It is because of them that Black Lives Matter exists.”

 

Who Gets Jeb’s Votes?

Philip Bump: “With Jeb Bush now out of the race and Ben Carson out of the race in the eyes of literally every person paying attention to the presidential race, save Ben Carson (if he’s even paying attention), it’s worth wondering where their supporters might go. The thinking is that all those Bush supporters will go to a Rubio or Kasich, for example, but is that true?”

“It’s hard to say. The problem is that supporters of Bush and Carson are so few that polling on where they’ll go next is necessarily a tiny sample size. In a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll, only 20 people said they planned to back Bush and only 13 signed up for Carson. That’s the problem, right? They have little support, so they have to drop out.”

“Here’s where those 33 people would go. This is not representative! But it reinforces that the idea that all of the vote will go to opponents of Trump is flawed.”

A “race that narrows to just Trump vs. Rubio or just Trump vs. Ted Cruz is a race that Trump probably loses. But that requires Kasich and Carson and Rubio or Cruz getting out. March 15 is the Ohio primary and the Florida primary, which both Kasich and Rubio will want to hang around for — making it even less likely that Trump will suddenly start trailing a consolidated centrist candidate.”