53% More Worried About Coronavirus Threat to Their Health Than Their Finances

Fifty-three percent (53%) of voters nationwide are more worried about the Coronavirus threat to their health rather than their finances. A Ballotpedia survey of 1,200 Registered Voters found that 39% are more concerned about the economic threat.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is only a modest difference between young and old on this question. Among voters under 45, nearly half (48%) are more concerned about their health. As for older voters, 56% are concerned primarily about their health.

The similarity of concern exists alongside the reality that older people are far more likely to have coronavirus related health issues. While nursing homes house less than 1% of the U.S. population, they account for 42% of all deaths attributed to the disease.

There is no gender gap on the issue, and views are broadly similar across racial lines, employment status, income levels, and other factors. The only exceptions are found along partisan and ideological lines.

  • Seventy-one percent (71%) of Democrats are more concerned for their health, a view shared by just 38% of Republicans.
  • Fifty-two percent (52%) of conservatives are more concerned about their personal economic challenges, a view shared by just 19% of liberals.

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Methodology

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 28-30, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 172 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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21% Believe It Will Be At Least Six Months Before Most Businesses Re-Open

A Ballotpedia survey found that 21% of voters nationwide believe it will be at least six months before most businesses reopen and social activity resumes. That total includes 6% who believe it will take more than a year.

Ballotpedia, the encyclopedia of American politics, provides the most comprehensive source of information on the various state efforts to reopen in their Documenting America’s Path to Recovery Click here to sign up for daily email updates.

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters conducted by Scott Rasmussen found that a much larger number–45%–believe most businesses will reopen within a month or two. Twenty-eight percent (28%) believe it will take three to six more months.

These figures highlight a much more pessimistic assessment of the situation than was found earlier. In fact, in late March, 58% of voters expected that most businesses would be open by now. At that time, only 8% thought it would take six months or more.

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Methodology

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 21-23, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 258 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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20% Lack Confidence They Could Receive Appropriate Treatment for Coronavirus

If infected by the coronavirus, a Ballotpedia national survey found that 20% of registered voters nationwide lack confidence they could receive appropriate medical treatment. That total includes 14% who are Not Very Confident and 6% who are Not at All Confident about access to treatment.

Those figures reflect a ten-point improvement since early April when 30% lacked such confidence. 

Looked at from a different angle, 75% are now confident they could receive appropriate treatment. That’s up nine-points from 66% in the previous survey.

Among lower-income voters today, 28% lack confidence they could receive appropriate treatment. That concern is shared by 19% of middle-income voters and 13% of upper income voters.

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39% Have Family Member Who Lost Primary Income Due to Shutdowns

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters have a family member who has lost their primary income due to the government shutdowns of the economy. A Ballotpedia survey of 1,200 Registered Voters found that 57% have not experienced that challenge.

Methodology

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 21-23, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 258 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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45% Rate U.S. Health Care System as Good or Excellent

A Ballotpedia survey found the 45% of Registered Voters rate the United States health care system as good or excellent. Thirty-six percent (36%) rate it as “fair” while 16% say poor.

Methodology

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 21-23, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or via text while 258 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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Just 34% Trust Government Officials More Than Voters On Questions About Re-opening Society

When it comes to making decisions about re-opening, just 34 percent of voters trust government officials more than everyday Americans. Let’s face it, it’s hard to have confidence in government decision-making when decisions about which businesses can open seem either irrational or blatantly political. That’s one reason why more voters—43 percent—place their trust in the general public.

On the core issue of who do you trust, upper-income Americans, government employees, college graduates and Democrats alike are all more comfortable with the government making sweeping decisions. The reverse is true for lower- and middle-income Americans, private sector workers, retirees, those without a college degree, Republicans and independents.

Other recent data shows that 41% of voters believe shutting down businesses and locking down society did more harm than good. Additionally, 52% agree with Ronald Reagan’s assessment: the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Those words continue to resonate with many Americans.

The implications of these findings were addressed in a Newsweek column by Scott Rasmussen. “Despite the fact that the public is anxious to re-open society, several Democratic governors are desperately clinging to their lockdown policies. Their efforts could help ensure the re-election of Donald Trump.”

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 14-16, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or by text while 238 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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41% Believe Lockdowns Have Done More Harm Than Good

Despite good intentions, 41% of voters nationwide believe shutting down businesses and locking down society did more harm than good. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 51% disagree and 8% are not sure.

The implications of this finding were addressed in a Newsweek column by Scott Rasmussen. The column notes “As the economic trauma continues, those numbers are almost certain to shift and cast the initial lockdowns in an even less favorable light.”

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans believe the lockdowns have done more harm than good. That view is shared by 36% of Independent voters and 27% of Democrats.

There is a racial divide on this question among Democrats. Overall, just 20% of white Democrats believe the lockdowns have done more harm than good. However, 38% of non-white Democrats believe that to be true.

Overall, 40% of white voters, 41% of black voters, and 42% of Hispanic voters believe the lockdowns have done more harm than good.

Other recent polling found that 52% agree with Ronald Reagan’s assessment: the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Those words continue to resonate with many Americans.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 14-16, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or by text while 238 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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52% Share Reagan’s View That “Help” From the Government Can Be Terrifying

Ronald Reagan famously declared that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Those words continue to resonate with many Americans.

The latest Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 52% of voters share Reagan’s view of how terrifying government “help” can be. Only 35% disagree while 13% are not sure.

The implications of this finding during a time of lockdowns were addressed in a Newsweek column by Scott Rasmussen.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans today agree with Reagan’s view. So do 46% of Democrats and 44% of Independents.

The view is shared by 51% of white voters, 49% of black voters, and 54% of Hispanic voters.

It is also shared by 56% of Rural voters, 53% of Suburban voters, and 48% of Urban voters.

Just 45% of college graduates share Reagan’s view. Among those without a degree, that figures rises to 55%.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 14-16, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or by text while 238 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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President Trump Job Approval Steady at 45%

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters approve of the way President Trump is performing his job while 51% disapprove. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found those totals include 30% who Strongly Approve and 41% who Strongly Disapprove.

These results have remained little change over the past few months.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Republicans approve of the president’s performance while 84% of Democrats disapprove. Among Independents, 39% approve while 53% disapprove.

Just 39% of college graduates approve while 50% without a degree do not.

The president earns positive reviews from 56% of rural voters, 47% of suburban voters, and 36% of urban voters.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of white voters approve along with 35% of Hispanic voters and 12% of Black voters.

When it comes to making decisions about re-opening, just 34% of voters trust government officials more than everyday Americans. More voters—43%—place their trust in the general public. Upper-income Americans, government employees, college graduates and Democrats alike are all more comfortable with the government making sweeping decisions. The reverse is true for lower- and middle-income Americans, private sector workers, retirees, those without a college degree, Republicans and independents.

Other recent data shows that 41% of voters believe shutting down businesses and locking down society did more harm than good. Additionally, 52% agree with Ronald Reagan’s assessment: the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Those words continue to resonate with many Americans.

The implications of these findings were addressed in a Newsweek column by Scott Rasmussen. “Despite the fact that the public is anxious to re-open society, several Democratic governors are desperately clinging to their lockdown policies. Their efforts could help ensure the re-election of Donald Trump.”

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 14-16, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online or by text while 238 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

 

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56% Believe Worst is Still to Come

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters believe the worst of the pandemic is still to come. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that just 17% believe the worst is now behind us.

That’s a more pessimistic assessment than voters offered at the end of April. At that time, just 49% believed the worst was still to come while 23% thought it had come and gone.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Democrats believe the worst is still to come, as do 60% of Independents. However, Republicans are fairly evenly divided–39% say the worst is still to come while 32% believe it is behind us.

Still, while recognizing the difficulties that lie ahead, polling data shows that voters are ready to re-open society. Most are ready to resume visiting their favorite restaurants, salons, and churches.  Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide  believe every business that establishes safe social distancing protocols should be allowed to open. Just 26% are opposed.

 

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47% Primarily Concerned About Health Threat from Pandemic; 47% About Economic Threat

Voters are evenly divided about what is the greatest threat from the coronavirus pandemic. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 47% of Registered Voters are most concerned about the Health Threat while another 47% are primarily concerned about the Economic Threat.

This is the third consecutive week of polling that has found an even divide. Two weeks ago, a slight plurality was more concerned about the Economic Threat. Last week, a slight plurality was more concerned about the Economic Threat.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Republicans worry more about the Economic Threat while 64% of Democrats take the opposite view. Independent voters are evenly divided. While there are modest differences along various demographic lines, partisanship is the strongest indicator of an individual’s perceptions on this topic.

Men, by a 50% to 45% margin, are more worried about the economy. Women, by a 49% to 44% margin, are more worried about health issues.

Rural voters are somewhat more worried about the economy while urban voters are a bit more likely to worry about the health aspects of the pandemic.

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 14-16, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 238 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, education, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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Just 14% of Voters Want Congress to Stop Spending Now

Just 14% of voters believe Congress should stop spending money on new programs at this time. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 73% believe the federal government should continue to provide additional financial support for businesses and individuals directly impacted by the shutdown.

Support for such spending comes from 82% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 63% of Republicans.

The results are broadly consistent with other data showing that 64% believe the government should be required to compensate business owners for any losses caused by the government ordered shutdown.

Strong support for new government spending is a rarity in American politics. In this case, the support likely exists because of the connection with government actions that caused the economic harm. Additional research will be needed to determine whether there is public support for spending beyond providing compensation for those harmed by the lockdowns.

That could emerge as a significant dividing line in Congressional debates concerning next steps. Early indications are that House Democrats envision this as a time to enact a broader level of new spending. Some Republicans think it’s time to stop all new spending while others are searching for a way to define meaningful limits to preserve some measure of fiscal discipline.

If Republicans do not come to the table with a plan, however, 58% of voters are ready for President Trump to make a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Just 18% are opposed while 23% are not sure. If Republicans won’t support any new spending, even Republican voters, by a 45% to 31% margin, want the president to make a deal with Pelosi.

Other recent polling shows that 60% of voters nationwide  believe every business that establishes safe social distancing protocols should be allowed to open. These numbers cut strongly against the narrative that voters remain committed to continuing the lockdowns. I take a look at some of the reasons behind this disconnect in my latest column.

Currently, 38% believe it would be appropriate to continue the lockdowns in their own neighborhood and community. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disagree. That total includes 40% who believe it is time to ease the restrictions and 17% who believe it is time to end the lockdowns.

Additionally, 65% are concerned that some public officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of individual Americans.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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64% Believes Governments Should Cover Losses of Businesses They Shut Down

Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters nationwide believe the government should be required to compensate business owners for any losses caused by the government ordered shutdown. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that just 15% disagree and 21% are not sure.

This is one aspect of the lockdown era that enjoys support across party lines. The idea that government should be liable for the costs of shutting down businesses is embraced by 67% of Republicans, 65% of Independents, and 61% of Democrats.

It’s also supported by 71% of private sector workers and 64% of government employees. Retirees aren’t as enthusiastic, but still support the concept by a 49% to 23% margin.

Other recent polling shows that 60% of voters nationwide  believe every business that establishes safe social distancing protocols should be allowed to open. These numbers cut strongly against the narrative that voters remain committed to continuing the lockdowns. I take a look at some of the reasons behind this disconnect in my latest column.

Currently, 38% believe it would be appropriate to continue the lockdowns in their own neighborhood and community. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disagree. That total includes 40% who believe it is time to ease the restrictions and 17% who believe it is time to end the lockdowns.

Additionally, 65% are concerned that some public officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of individual Americans.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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60% of Voters Okay Allowing All Businesses to Re-open With Social Distancing Protocols

Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide  believe every business that establishes safe social distancing protocols should be allowed to open. The latest Scott Rasmussen national survey found that just 26% oppose the idea. 

Support for allowing all businesses to responsibly re-open comes from 78% of Republicans, 60% of Independents, and 45% of Democrats.

At first glance, these results appear to contradict data suggesting ongoing public support for the lockdowns. In fact, the very same poll found that only 23% of voters think government officials have gone too far in shutting things down. Seventy-one percent (71%) believe those officials have either not gone far enough (35%) or have found the right balance (36%).

 Digging a little deeper highlights the connections between these results.

 * Not surprisingly, just about everyone who thinks the government has gone too far believes that businesses should be allowed to open with appropriate safety protocols.

 * Among those who think the government response so far has been about right, 61% agree that all businesses should be allowed to re-open with safety protocols. Just 23% are opposed. The overall tone seems to be that the response has been okay so far and allowing businesses to open responsibly is the next logical step.

 * The most stunning response comes from those who think the government has not gone far enough in shutting things down. On the question of allowing every business to re-open, they are evenly divided: 39% say yes while 45% do not.

 In my weekly column for the Deseret News, I address some possible reasons for the apparent disconnect. It may be that “words like lockdown and shutdown being used in the public dialogue almost interchangeably with social distancing and flattening the curve.” 

Whatever the explanation, the fact remains that only one-out-of-four voters today is opposed to letting all businesses re-open in a responsible manner. That cuts strongly against the narrative that voters remain committed to continuing the lockdowns. At the same time, voters still expect a strong societal commitment to social distancing and appropriate health protocols.

Other recent data shows that 65% of voters are concerned that public officials may be using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of individual Americans.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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The Value of Asking Questions From a Different Perspective: 60% Favor Allowing All Businesses to Re-open

One of the great joys of being a public opinion pollster comes when results to different questions seem to contradict each other. Some people — far too many in the political world — simply dismiss such apparent contradictions as evidence that people are either irrational or stupid. However, for those of us who trust the commonsense wisdom of everyday Americans, seemingly contradictory results provide an opportunity to better understand the public mood in a more nuanced manner.

I’ve seen many examples of this since first writing about how pollsters may be asking the wrong questions about the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, I noted that most Americans understand it’s not a question of stay home to stay safe or go out and get sick. Instead, most recognize that there are significant health risks involved in continuing the lockdowns. Since no options are completely safe, voters are weighing the difficult trade-offs based upon the underlying facts.

My polling this past weekend found that 23% of voters think government officials have gone too far in shutting things down. However, 71% believe those officials have either not gone far enough (35%) or have found the right balance (36%).

Most pollsters have found similar results. In most cases, the polls show slight growth in the number who think the government has gone too far, but that perspective still reflects a minority view. Using this as the only point of reference, one might conclude that voters remain committed to maintaining the lockdowns. Indeed, that’s the way much media coverage defines the public mood.

But when you ask questions from a different perspective, it becomes clear there is another side to the story. Sixty percent (60%) of voters believe every business that establishes safe social distancing protocols should be allowed to open. Every business! Not just a chosen few. Just 26% oppose the idea.

These numbers cut strongly against the narrative that voters remain committed to continuing the lockdowns.

What’s especially fascinating about this is that the results come from the exact same poll finding that 71% reject the idea that governments have gone too far. The same 1,200 survey respondents provided these seemingly very different answers.

It gets even more interesting when you dig a little deeper.

  • Not surprisingly, just about everyone who thinks the government has gone too far believes that businesses should be allowed to open with appropriate safety protocols.
  • Among those who think the government response so far has been about right, 61% agree that all businesses should be allowed to reopen with safety protocols. Just 23% are opposed. The overall tone seems to be that the response has been OK so far and allowing businesses to open responsibly is the next logical step.
  • The most stunning response comes from those who think the government has not gone far enough in shutting things down. On the question of allowing every business to reopen, they are evenly divided: 39% say yes while 45% do not.

What’s going on with about the people who think that governments have not gone far enough in shutting things down? How come only 45% of them oppose letting all businesses reopen?

One possible explanation may have something to do with words like lockdown and shutdown being used in the public dialogue almost interchangeably with social distancing and flattening the curve. As a result, some voters may viscerally equate ending the lockdowns with ending all social distancing efforts. So, they are uncomfortable ending lockdowns but OK with businesses that establish appropriate safety protocols.

Another possibility is that we may be misinterpreting the perceptions of the 35% who say governments have not gone far enough. Many in that group undoubtedly want even stricter government limits on social interaction. However, others may think the governments haven’t done enough to establish safe approaches for reopening society.

Whatever the explanation, the fact remains that only 1 out of 4 voters today is opposed to letting all businesses reopen in a responsible manner. That really shouldn’t be all that surprising given America’s historic commitment to individual freedom. In fact, the same survey found that 65% are concerned that some public officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the constitutional rights of individual Americans.

The bottom line is that most voters are ready to end the formal, government-imposed, lockdowns. But they are still demanding a strong societal commitment to social distancing and appropriate health protocols. The new rules will be enforced by individual Americans deciding which businesses are safe enough to visit and which ones should be avoided.

Scott Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the author of “The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”

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Biden 44% Trump 38%

The latest Scott Rasmussen national survey of 1,200 Registered Voters shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by six points– 44% to 38%. Seven percent (7%) would cast their ballot for some other candidate and 10% are undecided.

The candidates are essentially even among men and voters over 45. Biden leads by double digits among women and voters under 35.

Three weeks ago.  Biden was up by nine points. Two weeks ago, he led by eight. Last week, the lead had slipped to seven. This brings the race back to where it was in late March, when Biden enjoyed a five point advantage.

Thirty-eight percent (38%)  of voters nationwide believe it would be appropriate to continue the lockdowns in their own neighborhood and community.  However, 57% disagree. Most believe the rules and guidelines should be established locally.

Sixty-five percent (65%) are concerned that public officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of individual Americans. That total includes 39% who are Very Concerned.

Fifty-five percent (55%) believe the nation needs stricter immigration policies going forward.

Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters nationwide consider trade policies to be primarily a national security issue. However, most clearly see trade policy than raw economics.  Most voters (58%) say ensuring that important materials are produced in the United States is a higher priority than keeping costs down. Just 28% say keeping costs down and promoting economic growth matters more.

Finally, many voters are convinced the polls were wrong in 2016. Actually, the polls were pretty good. However, the analysis and interpretation of those polls was horrible.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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65% Concerned Officials Using Pandemic As Excuse to Infringe on Constitutional Rights

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters nationwide are at least somewhat concerned that public officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of individual Americans. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that total includes 39% who are Very Concerned.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans are concerned along with 63% of Independent voters and 52% of Democrats.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of urban voters are concerned. So are 66% of rural voters and 63% in the suburbs. Other data shows that urban voters tend to be more supportive of lockdowns than others. Their level of concern about Constitutional Rights being infringed may result from the fact that many urban voters are living under more severe restrictions than others.

Data released earlier shows that 38% of voters want the lockdowns to continue in their community. However, 57% disagree. Most voters believe rules and guidelines should be set locally rather than nationally.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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38% Want To Continue Lockdowns In Their Own Community, 57% Disagree

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters nationwide believe it would be appropriate to continue the lockdowns in their own neighborhood and community. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 57% disagree. That total includes 40% who believe it is time to ease the restrictions and 17% who believe it is time to end the lockdowns.

Forty-four percent (44%) of urban voters want to continue the lockdowns. That view is shared by 38% in the suburbs and 34% who live in rural areas.

The survey also found that 34% believe the rules and guidelines appropriate for their area be applied to the entire nation. However, 57% believe each community should establish its own guidelines in response to local conditions.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats believe that the rules for their community should be applied to the entire nation. Just 30% of Independents and 24% of Republicans agree.

Most (55%) of those who want lockdowns to continue in their community believe the same rules and guidelines apply to the entire country. As for those who want to ease restrictions, 72% take the opposite view and believe each community should establish its own guidelines. Among the group who want to end lockdowns in their area, 77% think each community should decide for itself.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from May 7-9, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 174 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied and the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Poll Results

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26% Consider Trade Policies As a National Security Issue

Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters nationwide consider trade policies to be primarily a national security issue. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 56% disagree and consider them primarily an economic issue. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure.

However, other data from the survey confirms that voters see more to trade policy than raw economics.

Most voters (58%) say ensuring that important materials are produced in the United States is a higher priority than keeping costs down. Just 28% say keeping costs down and promoting economic growth matters more.

The view that ensuring U.S. based production matters more than keeping costs down is shared by 67% of Republicans, 60% of Independent voters, and 49% of Democrats.

Fifty-six percent (56%) say they are willing to pay significantly higher costs on many goods to ensure that U.S. production capability. Twenty-five percent (25%) disagree.

Data released earlier shows that, following the pandemic, 70% of voters want to either reduce or eliminated trade with China.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 30-May 2, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 179 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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55% Favor Stricter Immigration Policies Going Forward, 32% Oppose

Looking to the future, 55% of voters believe it will be appropriate for the United States to establish stricter immigration policies? A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 32% disagree and 13% are not sure.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of Republican voters support a stricter immigration policy. Democrats, by a 53% to 31% margin, are opposed. Among Independents, 53% believe a stricter immigration policy will be appropriate while 29% disagree.

The need for a stricter immigration policy is supported by 69% of rural voters, 53% of suburban voters, and 49% or urban voters.

Data released earlier showed that 70% of voters favored a temporary ban on entry into the U.S. during the pandemic.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 30-May 2, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 179 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

Posted in Poll Results

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Biden 46% Trump 39%

The latest Scott Rasmussen poll of 1,000 Registered Voters shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by seven points– 46% to 39%. Seven percent (7%) would cast their ballot for some other candidate and 8% are undecided.

Last week, Biden led by eight points. The week before that, he was up by nine. In late March, it was Biden 45% Trump 40%.

While the results suggest a close race in the fall, it is important to keep in mind the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus lockdowns. What happens in the coming months as American society re-opens is likely to have a significant impact on the race. In fact, it is likely that the way society is re-opened will be the decisive factor in November’s election.

Data released yesterday, showed that 49% of voters nationwide now fear the economic threat from the coronavirus more than the health threat. Forty-five percent (45%) take the opposite view and are more worried about the health threat. These numbers reflect a significant change over the past month. In late March, by a 55% to 38% margin, voters were more concerned about the health threat.

The survey also found that 26% of voters now believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us. That’s an increase of three points from a  week ago and ten points from a month ago. Forty-six percent (46%) believe the worst is yet to come. That’s down from 60% earlier in the month.

Voters over 65, by a 40% to 32% margin, believe the worst is behind us. Younger voters are more pessimistic.

Perceptions of whether the worst is behind us or is still to come have a significant impact on perceptions of the overall threat. Among those who believe the worst is behind us, 68% are more worried about the economic threat. As for those who believe the worst is still to come, 57% are more worried about the health threat.

These results are consistent with other data showing that people are looking to loosen some of the restrictions. Voters nationwide are evenly divided as to whether the lockdowns should continue. And, they have come to recognize that it’s not simply a question of stay home to stay safe or go out and get sick. Voters recognize that there are significant mental and physical health risks associated with ongoing lockdowns. Those who know the latest data are more likely to support easing lockdown restrictions.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of voters favor a proposal that would allow all who are not sick or vulnerable in their area to return to work.

The president’s job approval rating has held steady at 44%.

Scott Rasmussen is now providing virtual briefings about the impact of the pandemic on business, politics, and American society. If you’d like Scott to provide a briefing for your company or organization, please contact Shawn Hanks.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 30-May 2, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 179 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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49% Fear Economic Threat More Than Health Threat From Coronavirus

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters nationwide now fear the economic threat from the coronavirus more than the health threat. A Scott Rasmussen national survey conducted over the past weekend (April 30-May 2) found that 45% take the opposite view and are more worried about the health threat.

These numbers reflect a significant change over the past month. In late March, by a 55% to 38% margin, voters were more concerned about the health threat.

By a 53% to 42% margin, men are more worried about the economic threat. Women are evenly divided.

There remains a gaping partisan divide. By a 73% to 21% margin, Republicans are more worried about the economic threat. Democrats, by a 64% to 31% margin, worry more about threats to health.

In late March, Independent voters were more worried about the health threat by a 55% to 34% margin. Now, they are evenly divided (49% say health, 45% economy).

These results are consistent with other data showing that people are looking for actions that may loosen some of the restrictions. Voters nationwide are evenly divided as to whether the lockdowns should continue. And, they have come to recognize that it’s not simply a question of stay home to stay safe or go out and get sick. Voters recognize that there are significant mental and physical health risks associated with ongoing lockdowns.

Additionally, 51% now  favor a proposal that would allow all who are not sick or vulnerable in their area to return to work. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are opposed, and 10% are not sure. That question was framed in the context of the area that the respondents lived in. These numbers are not a call for a national rule, but a recognition that different dynamics exist in different communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 30-May 2, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 179 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied, and the overall sample was lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

Posted in Poll Results

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The Healthcare Trade-offs of Continued Lockdowns

As America begins to reopen society, individual Americans have come to recognize that there are significant health risks involved in continuing the lockdowns associated with the coronavirus.

Polling I conducted last week (April 24-26, 2020) for FreedomWorks shows that 61% of voters nationwide are concerned about the health risks associated with prolonged isolation. An even larger share of voters — 73% — say that it’s important for their own mental well-being to be able to see people face-to-face again.

At one level, this is just an expression of common sense. Human beings are social creatures who suffer from a lack of social interaction. However, much of the awareness comes from firsthand experience.

· Thirty-three percent have close friends or family members who have been severely depressed during the lockdown.

· Twenty-three percent know of people close to them who have been drinking too much during the lockdown.

· Thirty-five percent have personally put on weight or experienced health-related problems associated with the stay-at-home orders.

In other words, voters recognize there are no easy answers. It’s not a question of stay home to stay safe or go out and get sick. There are difficult trade-offs involved and no options are completely safe.

The dynamics of these risks change over time. When conducted for a very short period of time, lockdowns and social isolation present very low levels of health risk. The longer the isolation, however, the higher the risk.

As a result, locking down society was clearly the lower-risk alternative when the pandemic began. Voters recognized that reality by strongly backing many government actions to shut down both travel and social interaction. Looking back on it now, 72% of voters continue to believe the aggressive government actions prevented the spread of the coronavirus and saved lives. Just 14% disagree.

Not only that, few believe the actions should have been taken only in large cities with severe outbreaks. Sixty-nine percent (69%) believe the lockdowns were appropriate throughout the country. In our highly polarized political era, it’s astounding to find 7 out of 10 voters agreeing on any type of government action.

But now, after experiencing and taking into account the risks of extended social isolation, voters are reevaluating the trade-offs. While 51% think it’s appropriate to continue the lockdowns, 47% think it’s time to either ease the restrictions (36%) or end the lockdowns entirely (11%). The FreedomWorks data shows that some of the differences of opinion are actually based upon the different realities that voters are experiencing. Most urban voters (58%) want to continue the lockdowns while most rural voters (55%) think it’s time to ease restrictions or end the lockdowns.

Looking a bit further down the road, people see the risks of continued isolation growing. Today 36% believe that continuing the lockdowns poses greater health risks than easing restrictions. Another 18% believe that will be the case if lockdowns continue for 60 more days.

In other words, a combined 54% of the nation’s voters believe that 60 more days of lockdowns will present a greater health risk than easing lockdown restrictions. At the other extreme, just 21% believe that continuing the lockdowns for another couple of months will be the safer approach.

As voters have experienced and considered the health risks associated with social isolation and lockdowns, scientists have been gathering additional information about the coronavirus itself. The evidence indicates that voters are factoring this data into their understanding of the trade-offs involved.

Specifically, 76% of voters are aware that recent data has shown that far more people have been infected with the coronavirus than previously thought. Voter thoughts about when and how to reopen society are being made with awareness that COVID-19 is extremely contagious.

At the same time, just 44% are aware that the latest data shows that people who get the coronavirus are less likely to die than previously thought. That decline weighs heavily on the trade-offs involved. When people believe the fatality rate of the contagion is higher and the costs of lockdowns are lower, they are more likely to embrace the lockdowns. But as the costs of social isolation increases and the data shows the fatality rate to be lower, the equation shifts.

Not surprisingly, therefore, those who are aware of the latest scientific data favor easing lockdown restrictions by a 66% to 33% margin. Those who mistakenly believe the fatality rate has not fallen favor continuing the lockdowns by a 71% to 28% margin.

For those who believe in America’s commitment to self-governance, this is encouraging news. Even in the midst of a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, individual Americans are weighing the difficult trade-offs based upon the underlying facts.

In the coming months, we will learn many more facts as individual cities and states take different approaches to reopening society. The choices will be difficult. Some approaches will work better than others and some will be more appropriate in one part of the country rather than others. As individual Americans consider it all, they will swiftly guide the nation towards the best practices for safely reopening society.

Posted in Scott's Columns

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36% Would Turn In Neighbors for Violating Social Distancing Rules

What do you do if your neighbor has 15-20 people over and it’s in violation of stay-at-home orders? A JustTheNews.com survey found that 36% of voters would report their neighbors to the police. Forty-three percent (43%) would not. 

Suburban and Urban voters are evenly divided on the question. However, by a 53% to 28% margin, rural voters would not report their neighbors.

There is a huge partisan difference. By a 44% to 31% margin, a plurality of Democrats would turn their neighbors in. By a 60% to 25% margin, Republicans would not. Independents are evenly divided.

Women are also evenly divided. Men, by a 51% to 32% margin, would not report their neighbors to the police.

See crosstab results.

Posted in Poll Results

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Generic Ballot: Democrats 43% Republicans 36%

April 29, 2020–If the election for Congress were held today, 43% of voters nationwide say they would vote for the Democrat from their district while 36% would vote for the Republican. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 4% would prefer some other candidate and 18% are not sure.

Republicans lead by six points among men, Democrats by 20 among women.

Last month, a Generic Ballot survey conducted  by Scott Rasmussen found Democrats with a nine-point lead: 48% to 39%. Last week, the numbers showed the Democrats with an 11-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot: 46% to 35%. It is possible that the numbers are shifting due to the dynamics of the pandemic and other issues. However, it is perhaps even more likely that these shifts reflect little more than statistical noise. Compared to the data from March, last week’s results showed the Democratic lead 2 points higher and this week’s numbers show that lead to be 2-points smaller.

All the results are similar to the actual eight point advantage the Democrats won in the 2018 mid-term elections.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 23-25, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 272 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

Posted in Poll Results

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33% Believe Government Response to Pandemic Has Not Gone Far Enough

Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters believe that, in responding to the pandemic, government officials have not gone far enough. However, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 20% believe they have gone too far. A plurality–41%–believe the balance has been about right.

These numbers reflect a significant shift since late March. At that time, 41% believed government officials had not gone far enough while just 14% believed they had gone too far.

Forty percent (40%) of Republicans believe the balance has been about right along with 43% of Democrats and 38% of Independents.

However, beneath that apparent common ground, there are significant partisan differences.

  • Thirty-six percent (36%) of Republicans believe the government actions have gone to far while only 18% say not far enough.
  • Democrats see it much differently–44% say not far enough while just 8% believe they have already gone too far.
  • Among Independents, 34% say not far enough and 19% say too far.

Other data shows a similar trend as people are looking for actions that may loosen some of the restrictions. Fifty-one percent (51%)  favor a proposal that would allow all who are not sick or vulnerable in their area to return to work. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are opposed, and 10% are not sure. That question was framed in the context of the area that the respondents lived in. These numbers are not a call for a national rule, but a recognition that different dynamics exist in different communities.

Currently, 23% of voters believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us, an increase of seven points over the past two weeks.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 23-25, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 272 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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Biden 46% Trump 38%

April 28, 2020– The latest Scott Rasmussen poll of 1,000 Registered Voters shows Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by eight points– 46% to 38%. Six percent (6%) would cast their ballot for some other candidate and 9% are undecided.

That’s little changed from a week ago when a poll conducted by Scott Rasmussen for JustTheNews.com showed Biden with a nine-point advantage. In that poll, Biden led 49% to 40%. Interestingly, support for both candidates dropped a bit in the most recent poll.

In late March, it was Biden 45% Trump 40%.

While the results suggest a close race in the fall, it is important to keep in mind the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus lockdowns. What happens in the coming months as American society re-opens is likely to have a significant impact on the race. Currently, 23% of voters believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us, an increase of seven points over the past two weeks.

Thirty-three percent (33%) believe the government has not yet gone far enough in responding to the pandemic. That figure is down eight points since late March.

Other polling shows that 51% of American voters favor a proposal that would allow all who are not sick or vulnerable in their area to return to work. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are opposed, and 10% are not sure. That question was framed in the context of the area that the respondents lived in. These numbers are not a call for a national rule, but a recognition that different dynamics exist in different communities.

Scott Rasmussen is now providing virtual briefings about the impact of the pandemic on business, politics, and American society. If you’d like Scott to provide a briefing for your company or organization, please contact Shawn Hanks.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 23-25, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 272 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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23% Believe Worst of Pandemic Is Behind Us, Up 7 Points in Two Weeks

Twenty-three percent (23%) of voters nationwide now believe the worst of the pandemic is behind us. That’s up seven points from just 16% two weeks ago.

A Scott Rasmussen national survey also found that 49% believe the worst is still to come. That’s down 11 points from 60% in the earlier survey.

The survey also found that, if infected by the coronavirus,  24% of Registered Voters nationwide are not confident they could receive appropriate medical treatment. That’s down from 30% two weeks ago. The number who are Not at All Confident about access to treatment has fallen from 10% to 6%.

The partisan divides remain very significant and most of the increased confidence comes from Republicans.

Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats believe the worst is yet to come, down from 72% earlier. Among Independent voters, 52% now believe the worst days remain ahead of us (down from 58%).

However, Republicans perceive things much differently. By a 43% to 35% margin, a plurality of GOP voters now believe the worst is behind us. Two weeks ago, just 28% of Republicans thought the worst was behind us. Forty-nine percent (49%) believed the worst was still to come.

Data released earlier showed that 22% believe our nation’s response to the pandemic would have been better if private insurance companies were banned and all health coverage was provided by the federal government. However, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 38% believe things would be worse.

Overall, 34% of voters at least somewhat favor the idea of banning private insurance companies to create a national health care system. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 23-25, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 272 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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46% More Worried About Pandemic’s Economic Threat Than Health Threat

Forty-six percent (46%) of voters are more worried about the economic threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic than the health threat. However, the latest Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 49% are more worried about health issues. The survey was conducted this past weekend (April 16-18).

Those figures reflect a modest increase in concern about the economic threat.

Last month, just 38% were more worried about the economic threat while 53% primarily feared the health threat.

The partisan divide on the issue is sharp. Sixty-six percent (66%) of Republicans are more worried about the economic threat while 67% of Democrats are more concerned about the health threat. Independent voters are evenly divided.

Data released earlier showed that, when the lockdown ends, 34% of voters expect the U.S. economy to bounce back quickly. However, a 45% have the opposite view and believe the nation will suffer through a long recession. There’s a similar partisan divide on that question, though the differences are not as sharp.

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 16-18, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 167 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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Generic Ballot: Democrats 46% Republicans 35%

Democrats currently enjoy an 11-point advantage on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

The latest Scott Rasmussen national survey shows that 46% of voters would cast their ballot for the Democrat from their District while 35% prefer the Republican. Four percent (4%) would prefer some other candidate and 15% are not sure.

Among those most interested in the election–and presumably the most likely to vote–the race is a bit closer. Among these voters, the Democrats enjoy a seven-point advantage (48% to 41%).

In the key demographic group of suburban women, Democrats lead by a 51% to 31% margin.

A Generic Ballot survey conducted last month by Scott Rasmussen found Democrats with a nine-point lead: 48% to 39%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 16-18, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 167 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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The Polls Weren’t Wrong in 2016–But The Analysis of the Polls Was Horrible

Contrary to popular myths, the national political polls in 2016 were very accurate. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Hillary Clinton was projected to win the popular vote by 3.3 percentage points and she actually won it by 2.1 percentage points. Ten of the last twelve national polls released were within two percentage points of the actual margin. One of the others overestimated Clinton’s margin by four points and one underestimated it by four points.

That’s about as accurate a projection as you could hope for!

However, while the polling was good, the analysis of the polling was not.

Many in the media and political worlds simply could not imagine a Clinton loss. Some looked at the polling, noted the margin of error, and assumed the Democratic nominee would win by far more than three percentage points. Some thought she could win a few traditionally Republican states while few imagined the reverse could happen.

The problem was not the polls, but the analysis.

This failure of polling analysis was not supported by the underlying data. Heading into Election Day, the Real Clear Politics projections showed that Clinton was clearly favored to win just 203 of the needed 270 Electoral College votes. Donald Trump was favored to win 164 and an astounding 171 were in the Toss-Up category. Reviewing the toss-up states at that time, I noted publicly that it was fairly easy to envision how Trump could reach 263 Electoral College votes.

That reality should have dented the overwhelming confidence of a Clinton victory expressed in the media and political worlds. Polling data showed a race close enough that a surprise in a single traditionally Democratic state could elect Donald Trump. But that possibility was largely ignored in media coverage of the race.

On Election Day, of course, then-candidate Trump stunned the political world by capturing three traditionally Democratic states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Once again, the surprise was more a failure of analysis than public polling. In Pennsylvania, the polling averages showed Clinton ahead by just 1.9 percentage points. In Michigan, she was up just 3.4 points. Both results were clearly in toss-up range. Additionally, in both states, the final public poll released showed Trump ahead.

The only true polling misfire was in Wisconsin, where Clinton was projected to win by 6.5 percentage points and Trump won by just under a point.

The bottom line is that the actual public polling in 2016 was far better than the pundit’s analysis of that polling data.

Posted in Deeper Currents

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69% Believe China’s Disinformation Made Pandemic Worse; 10% Believe China Telling Truth Now

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters believe the Chinese government made the global pandemic worse by withholding important research and releasing false information. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that just 8% disagree with that assessment while 23% are not sure.

The belief that China’s untruthfulness made things worse is shared by 83% of Republicans, 65% of Independents, and 60% of Democrats.

The survey also found that just 10% consider information the Chinese government is now releasing to be truthful and reliable. Thirty-nine percent (39%) believe it is not while 50% are not sure.

Most Republicans (57%) say information coming from China today is not truthful and reliable. Most Democrats (62%) and Independents (51%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 16-18, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 167 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

Posted in Poll Results

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70% Favor Temporary Ban on Entry Into United States

Seventy percent (70%) of Registered Voters believe the federal government place a temporary ban on allowing people from any other country to enter the United States. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that total includes 34% who believe that even Americans living abroad should have to wait until the pandemic is over before returning.

The temporary ban is supported by 82% of Republicans, 66% of Independents, and 64% of Democrats.

Among those who Strongly Approve of President Trump, 84% support the ban. Among those who Strongly Disapprove of the president, 57% share that same view.

Overall, among all voters, just 15% oppose a temporary ban. In no measured demographic group does opposition reach 25%.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 16-18, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 167 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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After Lockdown, 34% Expect Economy to Bounce Back Quickly

When the lockdown ends, 34% of voters expect the U.S. economy to bounce back quickly. However, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 45% have the opposite view and believe the nation will suffer through a long recession.  Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure.

By a 48% to 34% margin, Republicans expect the economy to bounce back quickly. Democrats, by a 56% to 24% margin, take the opposite view. Among independents, 43% expect a long recession while 33% think a quick recovery is likely.

It’s important to note that these dynamics are broadly consistent with pre-pandemic attitudes. Republicans were far more optimistic about the economy, Democrats more pessimistic, and Independent voters in between.

As for the prospects when the lockdown is lifted, white voters are evenly divided. Black and Hispanic voters are more pessimistic.

Investors are evenly divided–42% expect the economy to bounce back quickly while 38% think a long recession is coming.

Just 31% of non-investors expect a quick recovery while 50% disagree.

Data released earlier showed that 60% of all voters expect the worst is yet to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 9-11, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 217 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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The pandemic is shaking up everything. Government shouldn’t be an exception

Last week, I wrote about how the pandemic-induced experiment in home schooling will shake up our system of education. By unleashing the creativity of great teachers, the next wave of innovations will give teachers and parents more control over how and what their students learn.

This week, I’ll focus on a similar change coming to the larger political realm.

In Federalist 8, Alexander Hamilton wrote that “Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. … To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

Hamilton’s clear appreciation of human nature is now visible in every day’s news coverage during the pandemic. There is broad public support for lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and other measures that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. Who could have conceived of a scenario where political leaders would be allowed to define which businesses are essential and which are not?

However, when the crisis is over, many politicians will resist giving up the emergency powers they enjoyed exercising. Even worse, some will see the pandemic as a breakthrough moment when voters finally appreciate the value of a powerful government.

For example, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio has expressed his preference for a system where “the city government would determine (for) every single plot of land, how development would proceed.” He thought most voters “would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be.”

When the pandemic is over, these attitudes will pit citizens who want a restoration of freedom against politicians who don’t want to give up their newfound powers.

In the larger sense, though, the pandemic is merely bringing to a head a battle that has been brewing for decades. Since the 1970s, our political system has been growing more centralized with ever increasing authority being vested in a regulatory state. The regulators are treated as experts — many are — and are generally unaccountable to any external checks and balances.

The regulatory state promised to make our society safer, but it required giving up individual freedoms and our commitment to self-governance.

Additionally, while the political system has been growing more centralized, America’s culture has been moving in the opposite direction. Following the invention of the microchip and what I call the Great Turnaround, everything in America has been decentralizing —everything that is except our political system.

The disconnect between a decentralizing society and a centralizing government is simply not sustainable. It’s also the reason that so much of our political dialogue seems so irrelevant or toxic. Twenty-first century politics is simply out of synch with twenty-first century America.

How did we get to this point? How did this disconnect come to be? How did the American people come to accept a regulatory state that is at odds with our founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance?

The short answer is that, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the American people trusted their government as never before or since. Not only did the government win the war, a long economic boom followed. The trust faded quickly, but not before the Nixon administration put in place the foundations of today’s regulatory state.

The imposition of the regulatory state created the central political conflict of our time. It’s a conflict between our nation’s founding ideals and our current form of governance.

The pandemic is highlighting this disconnect. People see governments exercising draconian power, but they do not trust the governments. They are willing to accept and support such decisions during an emergency but can’t wait for the emergency to end.

When the pandemic is defeated, the defeat of the regulatory state will follow. Hamilton’s words of warning are certainly appropriate, but the American people are not yet ready to give up their freedom for promises of security.

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50% Say Top Priority Should Be Letting People Gather in Homes

There has been a lot of recent debate about how and when to re-open the U.S. economy. However, data from the latest Scott Rasmussen survey suggests that voters are interested in a broader discussion about how to re-open American society. The survey asked voters to prioritize the re-opening of various activities when the lockdown ends. For each activity, voters were asked whether it should happen right away or if it should be a second or third priority.

  • Fifty percent (50%) said that allowing people to gather in small groups at someone’s home should happen right away.
  • Thirty-five percent (35%) said that churches and other religious gatherings should be opened right away.
  • Re-opening retail stores was also seen as a top priority by 35%.
  • Thirty-one percent (31%) said the same about schools.
  • Just 21% thought re-opening bars and restaurants should happen right away.
  • Only 14% said the same about major league sports events and stadium concerts.

These results suggest that voters are interested in the broader questions of re-opening society, rather than narrow concerns about the economy. That’s not surprising since 23% say that the biggest impact they’ve felt from the pandemic is boredom, depression and isolation. Thirty percent (30%) cited loss of income as the biggest impact.

Additionally, even the re-opening of retail stores may reflect something more than economic concerns. Many people have experienced difficulties obtaining needed supplies during the pandemic—everything from food to health care items. Opening retail stores may be seen as a way to help address those concerns.

There are significant partisan differences in priorities. The most dramatic concerns the re-opening of churches and religious services. Forty-seven percent (47%) of Republicans believe that should be a top priority while only 29% of Democrats agree.

These results come from a survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 9-11, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 217 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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On Pandemic, 60% Believe Worst is Yet to Come, 16% Think It’s Behind Us

In terms of the pandemic, 60% of voters believe the worst is yet to come. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that just 16% believe the worst is behind us and 24% are not sure.

As on just about everything these days, there is a significant partisan divide. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Democrats believe the worst is yet to come, a view shared by just 49% of Republicans. Independent voters are in the middle with 58% believing the worst days remain ahead of us.

Data released earlier showed that 22% believe our nation’s response to the pandemic would have been better if private insurance companies were banned and all health coverage was provided by the federal government. However, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 38% believe things would be worse.

Overall, 34% of voters at least somewhat favor the idea of banning private insurance companies to create a national health care system. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed.

If infected by the coronavirus, 30% of Registered Voters nationwide are not confident they could receive appropriate medical treatment. That total includes 20% who are Not Very Confident and 10% who are Not at All Confident about access to treatment.

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Worst Is Still To Come: 60%

Behind Us: 16%

Not Sure: 24%

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 9-11, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 217 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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34% Favor National Health Care System That Eliminates Private Health Insurance

Just 34% of voters favor a national health care system that replaces private insurance companies. A Scott Rasmussen national poll found that 54% are opposed to such a plan. Those totals included 14% who Strongly Favor the approach and 38% who are Strongly Opposed.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans are opposed along with most (54%) Independent voters. However, by a 48% to 39% margin, Democrats lean in favor of the concept.

It’s important to note that most voters (53%) favor the vague concept of a national health care system. Just 37% are opposed.

However, support falls significantly when the possibility of banning private health insurance is mentioned. One reason for this is that 66% of voters rate their current health insurance coverage as good or excellent. Seventy-two percent (72%) are just as upbeat about the medical care they personally receive. Given these realities, it is very difficult to see how any plan that forces people to give up their current insurance will be politically viable.

The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 2-5, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 198 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45% Rate US Health Care System as Good/Excellent; 22% Say Poor

Forty-five percent (45%) of Registered Voters rate the U.S. Health Care System as Good or Excellent while 22% rate it as poor. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 30% believe our health care system is merely Fair while 3% are not sure.

The survey also found that 72% rate the medical care they personally receive as good or excellent. Just 6% say the quality of their medical care is poor.

Sixty-six percent (66%) rate their insurance coverage as good or excellent. while 11% say poor.

There are large partisan divides on the question about the U.S. health care system. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Republicans say it’s good or excellent while just 8% say poor. Democrats are evenly divided–32% say good or excellent, 29% say poor.  As for Independent voters, 40% rate the health care system as good or excellent while 28% rate it as poor.

Partisan differences are much more modest on questions of personal medical care and insurance coverage.

Data released earlier showed that 22% believe our nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic would have been better with a national health care system run by the federal government. Thirty-eight percent (38%) believe that would have made things worse.

Other data showed that, if infected by the coronavirus, 30% are not confident they would receive appropriate medical care.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 2-5, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 198 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

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22% Say Response to Pandemic Would Have Been Better With National Healthcare System

Twenty-two percent (22%) of Registered Voters believe our nation’s response to the pandemic would have been better if private insurance companies were banned and all health coverage was provided by the federal government. However, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 38% believe things would be worse.

Eighteen percent (18%) don’t believe things would be all that different while 21% are not sure.

In just about every measured demographic group, a plurality believes things would be worse with such a national healthcare system in place. The only exceptions are among Democrats and political liberals. Democrats, by a 36% to 21% margin, believe a national healthcare system would have produced a better outcome. Liberals, by a 36% to 20% margin, share the same sentiment.

Republicans strongly disagree. Sixty-one percent (61%) of GOP voters believe a national healthcare system would have made things worse. Only 11% say better. The numbers are similar among conservatives (64% to 10%).

Nineteen percent (19%) of independent voters believe things would have been better while 35% say worse

A plurality of all age groups believe things would have been worse, but the belief is much stronger among voters over 55.

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 2-5, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 198 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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30% Not Confident They Could Receive Medical Treatment for Coronavirus

If infected by the coronavirus, 30% of Registered Voters nationwide are not confident they could receive appropriate medical treatment. That total includes 20% who are Not Very Confident and 10% who are Not at All Confident about access to treatment.

At the other end of the spectrum, a Scott Rasmussen national survey found 66% are confident they could receive appropriate treatment. That total includes 27% who are Very Confident and 37% who are Somewhat Confident.

Confidence is lowest in urban areas and highest in the suburbs.

Among those living in Urban areas, 58% have at least some confidence that they could receive appropriate treatment while 37% do not have such confidence.

In the suburbs, 70% are confident while 26% are not.

As for Americans living in rural areas, 66% have confidence that they could receive treatment while 31% are not.

Republicans have more confidence than Democrats or Independents.

Those with a high level of interest in the presidential election are more confident than others

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The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from April 2-5, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Most respondents were contacted online while 198 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by geography, gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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Just the News and Scott Rasmussen Announce Polling Partnership

Just the News and independent pollster Scott Rasmussen announced Thursday a partnership to produce polling that measures sentiments on issues resonating with everyday Americans outside the Beltway.

The year-long partnership with Rasmussen’s RMG Research will provide Just the News readers a fresh daily poll each Monday through Friday from a sample of 1,200 registered voters reached by phone and online. The polling will provide insights about political and policy issues facing everyday Americans.

Rasmussen said the partnership will help illuminate the difference between how voters perceive topics and the way they are discussed in official Washington.

“I’m very excited to be working with JustTheNews.com,” Rasmussen said. “When it comes to issues, we will always strive to avoid using inside-the-beltway terminology and ask questions in a language that makes sense to everyday Americans.”

John Solomon, the CEO and Editor in Chief of Just the News, said the collaboration is a natural extension of the one-month-old news venture’s commitment to cover Washington for those who live outside it.

“Scott Rasmussen has long been one of the country’s most influential pollsters, able to spot and keenly analyze trends in real America long before others,” Solomon said. “We are thrilled he is partnering with us on this project to measure American sentiments about the issues that matter on a daily basis.”

A best-selling author, co-founder of ESPN and Rasmussen Reports (which Rasmussen departed from in 2013), Rasmussen currently serves as editor-at-large for Ballotpedia.  He also runs his own Web site ScottRasmussen.com.

Rasmussen said the current polling industry does a “great job” on elections and fundamental measures of the political environment, yet the analysis and reporting of these factors, including during the 2016 presidential election, is lacking.

“The built-in belief that Trump couldn’t win caused many pundits to ignore the real possibility of an Electoral College upset. So our challenge will be to look carefully at what the data is telling us,” Rasmussen said. “Many people believe the polls were wrong in 2016, but that’s not the case.

“The Real Clear Politics polling average showed Clinton winning the popular vote by 3 points and she won by 2. The state polling was also better than is commonly believed. Two of the biggest surprises on election night were Pennsylvania and Michigan. The Real Clear Average showed those races within the margin of error and the last poll in each showed Trump ahead. Wisconsin was the only state with a true public polling miss.”

Innovation has been a hallmark of Rasmussen’s career. In 1978, the then-new technology of satellite communications dramatically reduced the cost of sending a broadcast signal around the nation. Building upon that opportunity, Rasmussen and his father, Bill, founded ESPN, the cable sports network.

In the 1990s, the birth of the Internet provided the unique opportunity to capitalize on another ground-breaking technology. Rasmussen launched his first website in 1994 and became the first pollster to offer data directly to the public rather than filtered through a network reporter.

It was also at this time that Rasmussen saw the potential for the concept of automated polling and ultimately revolutionized the polling industry. In just over a decade, Rasmussen’s work attracted more Google searches than the long-established industry leader – Gallup.

His most recent book, “The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not,” was published in 2018 by the Sutherland Institute.

The book explains Rasmussen’s optimism about our nation’s future, despite his deep pessimism over our broken political system. Co-founder of No Labels, Mark McKinnon, said the book features “some of the freshest, most inspiring thinking I’ve read in years There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and Rasmussen has found it.”

Posted in Deeper Currents

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51% Want Stricter Security on Future Trade and Travel With China

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Registered Voters believe the United States should require stricter security on future trade and travel with China. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 27% disagree and 22% are not sure.

By a 71% to 12% margin, Republicans think stricter security is needed. Among Independent voters, 48% want stricter security while 28% disagree. Democrats are evenly divided–37% say yes to stricter security and 40% say no.

Overall, 42% of Registered Voters believe that we need stricter security on future trade and travel with ALL nations. Thirty-four percent (34%) disagree and 25% are not sure.

Data released earlier showed that 47% believe China is primarily responsible for the coronavirus pandemic.

Looking ahead, should the United States require stricter security on future trade and travel with China?

51%    Yes

27%    No

22%    Not Sure

Okay… what about other nations? should the United States require stricter security on future trade and travel with all other nations?

42%    Yes

34%    No

25%    Not Sure

The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

 

 

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Coronavirus Polling in Utah

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll found that Utah voters think the federal government was slow to react to coronavirus, but give high marks to President Trump.

The survey also showed how the virus has impacted the life of just about every Utah voter in some way.

The survey of 979 Registered Voters was conducted by me from March 23-28. It’s part of a monthly polling series.

Posted in Deeper Currents

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Biden 45% Trump 40%

If the presidential election were held today, 45% of Registered Voters would vote for Democrat Joe Biden while 40% prefer Republican Donald Trump.

However, the survey conducted by Scott Rasmussen found that 70% of Trump’s supporters have a high level of interest in the election.  Just 61% of Biden’s voters say the same. Among those who have a high level of interest–and are most likely to vote–it’s Biden 47% Trump 46%.

Among all Registered voters living in Urban areas, Biden leads by a 60% to 23% margin. Trump leads by 19 points (50% to 31%) among Rural voters. The candidates are essential tied among Suburban voters with Biden at 44% and Trump at 43%.

Among Suburban voters with a high level of interest in the election, it’s Trump 48% Biden 47%. Biden’s margin among Urban voters slips to 32 points among those with a high level of interest (61% to 29%). Trump’s lead among interested Rural voters increases to 32 points (62% to 30%).

The survey also explored attitudes on the coronavirus pandemic.

On just about every question there is a wide partisan divide.

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The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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55% Fear That Government Officials Will Re-Open Businesses Too Soon

Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters worry that government officials will re-open businesses too soon. A national survey by Scott Rasmussen found that just 29% take the opposite view and fear they will wait too long. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

Data released earlier shows that 45% of voters expect the lockdown to last another month or two. Thirty-seven percent (37%) think it will last for three months or longer. While most (53%) worry primarily about the health crisis, 38% are more worried about the economic impact of the pandemic.

On just about every question there is a wide partisan divide. By a 72% to 15% margin, Democrats worry that the government is likely to re-open things too soon rather than wait too long. Republicans lean in the opposite direction–46% believe government officials will wait too long while 36% think they will re-open things too quickly. Independent voters, by a 56% to 28% margin, fear that businesses will be allowed to re-open too soon.

Other data from the survey found that 41% believe government officials have not gone far enough in shutting things down. Thirty-eight percent (38%) believe the balance has been about right while 14% believe they have gone too far. These results are consistent with strong support for actions taken so far–everything from the ban on travel from China to canceling sports events.

So far, most Democrats (58%) believe government officials have not gone far enough. Most Republicans (52%) believe the balance has been about right. Independent voters are evenly divided (42% Not Far Enough, 34% About Right).

In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, have government officials gone too far in shutting things down, not far enough, or has the balance been about right?

41%    Not Far Enough

38%    Balance About Right

14%    Gone Too Far

  7%    Not Sure

Which worries you the most—that government officials will re-open businesses too soon or that they will wait too long?

55%    Too Soon

29%    Wait Too Long

16%    Not Sure

The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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38% Fear Economic Impact of Pandemic More Than Health Concerns

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters are more worried about the economic threat posed by the coronavirus than the health threat. However, a national survey conducted by Scott Rasmussen found that 53% are more worried about the health issues.

Republicans, by a 60% to 33% margin, are more worried about the economic impact. Democrats, by a 70% to 22% margin, are more worried about the health threat. Fifty-five percent (55%) of Independent voters are most concerned about the health issues, but 34% take the opposite view.

In terms of their own life, 46% are Very Worried the coronavirus will cause serious economic problems for their immediate family.

Thirty-six percent (36%) are Very Worried it will cause serious health issues.

How worried are you that the Coronavirus will cause serious health issues for you or a member of your immediate family?

36%    Very Worried

43%    Somewhat Worried

16%    Not Very Worried

  5%    Not at All Worried

How worried are you that the Coronavirus will cause serious economic problems for you or a member of your immediate family?

46%    Very Worried

38%    Somewhat Worried

13%    Not Very Worried

  3%    Not at All Worried

For the United States as a whole—which worries you the most about the coronavirus: the health threat or the economic threat?

53%    Health Threat

38%    Economic Threat

  8%    Not Sure

The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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47% Believe China To Blame For Pandemic

Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters believe that China is primarily to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. A national survey conducted by Scott Rasmussen found that 34% disagree and 19% are not sure.

The survey also found that 27% of voters think it’s at least somewhat likely that the Chinese government intentionally created and released the coronavirus.

As with just about everything in the news, there is a massive partisan divide. Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans believe that China is primarily responsible for the pandemic. That view is shared by 41% of Independent voters and 30% of Democrats.

Forty-three percent (43%) of Republicans believe it’s likely the virus was intentionally released by the Chinese government. Just 23% of Independents and 16% of Democrats agree.

Is China primarily to blame for the coronavirus pandemic?

47%    Yes

34%    No

19%    Not Sure

How likely is it that the Chinese government intentionally created and released the coronavirus?

13%    Very likely

14%    Somewhat likely

  9%    Not Very Likely

  6%    Not at All Likely

  5%    Not Sure

53%    Not Asked

NOTE: This question was asked only of those who believed China was primarily to blame for the pandemic.

The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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America may not be the same after coronavirus. That may be a good thing

NOTE: This column was originally published in the Deseret News.

Last week, I began to explore what life will be like when the coronavirus lockdown finally ends.

Initially, people will crave a return to in-person social gatherings and some sense of normalcy. Still, when the stay-at-home orders and mandatory business closings are lifted, the reopening of society will proceed cautiously. Guided by a mix of joy and fear, some people will jump right back into old routines while others will take it more slowly. Many, without consciously thinking about it, will never again attend events with huge crowds or ride a crowded subway.

Some businesses will open their doors and offices faster than others. Sadly, many will never reopen. Returning workers will learn new routines and procedures to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, especially for businesses that deal directly with consumers.

Politicians will debate what sort of international trade and travel restrictions might be appropriate going forward. What kind of security can protect against an invisible virus? Should the new restrictions apply only to China? Or to all nations? It will soon become clear that the pandemic has reset discussions on just about every political issue.

Still, it won’t be long before a new normal sets in. Our culture and lifestyle adapt so quickly to new realities that we soon forget what came before. If you doubt that’s true, consider the phrase social distancing. A month or so ago, hardly anybody had heard of it. Now it’s a part of daily conversation.

These new routines will never replace in-person gatherings — humans need such contact for their physical and mental well-being. But, when the crisis is over, the new approaches will not wither away or disappear. Americans will not unlearn what they are learning today. Instead, they will use what they have learned in ways that will alter the frequency and purpose of our face-to-face encounters with others.

A friend of mine works with a large team that has been forced to telecommute during the current crisis. It’s going so well that he’s now thinking of working from Florida for a month next winter. Following the experience of the past month, he figures his boss will have no reason to object. My friend values the regular, in-person interactions with his co-workers and will have plenty of it for most of the year. But the month in Florida will also give him more time with family and friends in a pleasant setting.

Millions of Americans will do the same and seamlessly adopt what they’ve learned during the lockdown to make changes in their daily life. After a while, it won’t seem different at all. It will just be a new normal.

Though the novelty of our new routines will quickly wear off, the impact of those changes will bring about massive social disruption. To take just one example, when my friend and his team telecommute more regularly, their company will need less office space. That seemingly minor change will ripple through the economies of major cities.

  • For two centuries leading up to the 1970s, the trend was for everything in America to get bigger, more centralized and more homogenized.
  • After the ’70s, however, cultural trends moved in the opposite direction with everything becoming more niche-oriented, decentralized and personalized.

It is hard to overstate the significance of this cultural turnaround. “The devices and connectivity so essential to modern life put unprecedented p ower in the hands of every individual,” according to Harvard’s Nicco Mele. This is “a radical redistribution of power that our traditional institutions don’t and perhaps can’t understand.” As if that wasn’t enough, he adds, “Radical connectivity is toxic to traditional power structures.”

This decentralizing force has been transforming our society for decades. Many institutions and industries have already adapted or disappeared. Following the pandemic, the scale and pace of change will increase dramatically.

In the coming weeks, I’ll look at how our decentralizing culture is poised to bring about massive changes to our health care, education and political systems.

While transitions are always unsettling, we have reason to be optimistic about the future. That’s because this new era has put “unprecedented power in the hands of every individual.” That’s a good thing!

Taking power away from the few and giving it to the many is right in line with our nation’s founding ideals. From a pragmatic viewpoint, it means more people will have a greater ability to work together and create a better world.

Scott Rasmussen is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the author of “The Sun is Still Rising: Politics Has Failed But America Will Not.”

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45% Expect Lockdown to Last A Month or Two

Forty-five percent (45%) of voters nationwide believe it will be a month or two before most businesses re-open and social activity resumes.  A national survey conducted by Scott Rasmussen found that 37% think it will take three months or longer. At the other end of the spectrum, 13% believe the lockdown will end within a couple of weeks.

There is a significant partisan divide on the question. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Republicans expect business and social activity to resume within a couple of months. Just 44% of Democrats are that optimistic.

Most Democrats (51%) believe at least three months will pass before things re-open. Just 23% of Republicans agree.

As for Independent voters, 57% expect social activity to resume within a couple of months. Thirty-six percent (36%) believe it will take three months or longer.

How long do you think it will be before most businesses re-open and social activity resumes?

13%     A couple of weeks

45%    A month or two

29%    Three to six months

  6%    Six Months to a year

  2%    More than a year

  6%    Not Sure

The survey of 1,000 Registered Voters was conducted by Scott Rasmussen using a mixed mode approach from March 26-28, 2020. Field work for the survey was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Approximately 72% of the survey respondents were selected at random from lists of Registered Voters. The remainder were selected through Random Digital Engagement. Most were contacted online while 247 were contacted using automated phone polling techniques. Certain quotas were applied to the overall sample and lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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89% Support Ban on Travel from China

A One America News survey found strong support for early actions taken by governments and private companies to address the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Seventy-three percent (73%) Strongly Approve of the ban on travel from China, higher than support for any other action.
    *  The lowest level of support was found for suspending college basketball tournaments and professional sports events. Still, 51% Strongly Approve.
  • In all cases, approval is higher among older people than younger voters.
  • In the case of the travel bans, support is higher among Republicans than other voters. However, a majority in all parties support the travel bans.
    *  Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans Strongly Approve of the ban on travel from China. That view is shared by 66% of Democrats and 66% of Independent voters.
    *  The ban on European travel earns Strong Approval from 77% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats, and 54% of other voters.

SUMMARY OF VIEWS TOWARDS VARIOUS ACTIONS

APPROVE (Strongly)DISAPPROVE
China Travel Ban89% (73%)10%
European Travel Ban84% (61%)13%
Encouraging Work From Home89% (63%)10%
Suspending Sports Events75% (51%)20%
State Bans of Large Gatherings81% (54%)16%
Co-payment Waivers90% (72%)9%
Campus Closures82% (57%)15%
  • Seventy-three percent (73%) Strongly Approve of the ban on travel from China, higher than support for any other action.
    *  The lowest level of support was found for suspending college basketball tournaments and professional sports events. Still, 51% Strongly Approve.
  • In all cases, approval is higher among older people than younger voters.
  • In the case of the travel bans, support is higher among Republicans than other voters. However, a majority in all parties support the travel bans.
    *  Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans Strongly Approve of the ban on travel from China. That view is shared by 66% of Democrats and 66% of Independent voters.
    *  The ban on European travel earns Strong Approval from 77% of Republicans, 52% of Democrats, and 54% of other voters.

The survey was conducted by Scott Rasmussen.

Survey respondents were randomly selected from a comprehensive panel of potential participants. Field work was conducted by RMG Research, Inc. Certain quotas were applied, and the final results were lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the nation’s population of Registered Voters. Other variables were reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of the nation at large.

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ScottRasmussen.com Data in WSJ Best of the Web Column

ScottRasmussen.com polling data was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web column today.

The column explores whether or not the Democratic presidential candidates are moving too far to the left.

“Today pollster Scott Rasmussen shares results suggesting Democrats may not want to fall so hard for illegal immigration:”

Twenty-one percent (21%) of voters nationwide believe the United States has no right to decide who is eligible to enter the country. They believe anyone who wants to live in the United States should be allowed entry. However, 79% disagree and take the opposite view.

This is consistent with a vast collection of survey data showing that eight-out-of-ten voters believe illegal immigration is bad for the United States (eight-out-of-ten also believe that legal immigration is good for the country).

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A Farewell to Pat Caddell

Legendary pollster Pat Caddell passed away on Saturday at the far too young age of 68. Many pollsters of my generation looked up to Pat when they were getting started. We all followed trails that he blazed.

I had the honor of knowing Pat, working with him, and trying to hold my own in countless spirited conversations with him. He was brilliant, blunt, insightful, and passionate.  Intense is another word that comes to mind.

We once did a press conference together where a reporter asked about taxes. The premise of the question was flawed and Pat lit into him with a tour de force presentation drawing upon history, data, and Pat’s personal experience. It was so brutal that I actually felt bad for the reporter.  There was no follow up question.

But there was another side of Pat. I remember him being very kind/supportive to my wife and I during a difficult season in our family life.  I also remember how, in the middle of a heated phone conversation, he seemed to melt when his grandchildren came into the room.

Perhaps what I liked best about Pat is how he was constantly irritated by anyone who was comfortable with the status quo. He was irritated because he knew that America could be so much better.

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Is Phone Polling Dead?

There is a vigorous debate as to whether phone polling is dead or just dying. Some of it is fueled by the erroneous notion that the pollsters total missed the mark in the 2016 election. Actually, the national poll results were generally accurate in forecasting a modest popular vote victory for Hillary Clinton. While the polling was decent, the analysis wasn’t.

Still, there are legitimate questions about the viability of phone polling in a time when fewer than half the nation’s households have a landline telephone. And, calling cell phones isn’t necessarily the answer. Hardly anybody answers their cell phones unless they know the caller. Hard as it is for older Americans to accept, phones just aren’t for talking anymore.

The challenges for the industry go beyond just phone technology and etiquette. When I did my first live-operator poll more than 30 years ago, Americans shared a much more unified culture. Not only did we use the phone as our primary means of communication, our news and entertainment came from only a handful of sources that we all knew.

In the 1970s, 94% of Americans watched one of three television networks at night. As if that wasn’t enough, when the president spoke, we all watched because the networks ditched their regular coverage in favor of the White House messaging. Different people placed different levels of trust in the media or the president, of course, but we were all getting the same narrative as a starting point. That world no longer exists.

Today, it is certainly possible though difficult, to conduct a quality phone poll. Many firms continue to do it well. However, it will not be possible much longer. Reasonable people can disagree as to how much longer phone polling can hang on, but the future of polling will be built on digital platforms.  That’s why I’ve chosen a digital approach for all ScottRasmussen.com polls (see Methodology).

It takes more than a digital platform, though, to generate reliable data. It takes a team of top-quality professionals to use the platform appropriately and with rigorous standards. That’s why I’ve chosen HarrisX, a leading research company specializing in online surveys, to be my partner at ScottRasmussen.com. They will survey one thousand registered voters for us five nights a week. Each night’s survey collects responses from diverse panel of Americans and is designed to reflect a nationally-representative sample weighted for gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, political party, education, and other relevant demographics.

Reliable data is the foundation of public opinion research. But, as we saw in 2016, good data can be distorted by bad analysis. The starting point for good analysis is asking the right questions.

At ScottRasmussen.com we have an experienced team of research professionals who suggest topics, draft questionnaires, and guide all aspects of the survey process. We are constantly and consciously seeking to supplement rather than simply repeat data collected by other public polling firms. We believe that intentionally exploring contrarian themes enhances the public debate by highlighting other perspectives and providing a richer understanding of the topics at hand.

Once we have the data, our analysis is based upon great respect for the common-sense wisdom of the American people. If, for example, most people don’t know who represents them in Congress, we conclude that such knowledge is of little value to them. If the answers to two questions seem inconsistent from a political perspective, we assume that the political perspective is missing something important. Often, that will lead us to ask further questions to improve our understanding of the public mood (read About Us).

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Polling Methodology

The appropriate methodology for any public opinion survey is dependent upon the survey objective and needs of the client. Scott Rasmussen relies primarily upon online survey techniques to conduct his surveys. However, in some instances, the online research is supplemented by automated phone polling approaches.

There are two basic approaches to selecting respondents for online surveys. One is to randomly contact participants from a comprehensive panel of potential participants. The other is to randomly contact participants from an appropriate list (i.e.—voters or customers). Again, the appropriate approach depends upon the needs of the client.

Automated phone polling interviews are made exclusively from appropriate lists and only land line phones are contacted. Such calls generally reach an older and more rural audience than is representative of the population at large. However, in some circumstances, this can be useful to offset the fact that online surveys find it easier to reach younger and more urban participants.

In all surveys conducted by Scott Rasmussen, certain quotas are applied to insure adequate representation of diverse demographic and geographic populations. The final results are lightly weighted by gender, age, race, and political party to reasonably reflect the population being studied. Other variables are frequently reviewed to ensure that the final sample is representative of that population.

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The Senate Protects Our Freedoms

Based upon census bureau projections, 69% of all Americans are projected to live in the 16 largest states. Given the uncertainties of predicting how people will live in an era of self-driving cars and other cultural changes, the precise numbers may be a bit off. But, it is certainly true that a handful of large states will hold the bulk of the population. That’s the way it’s always been and probably always will be.

These states will dominate the House of Representatives. If they have 69% of the population, they will have roughly 69% of the seats in Congress.

The Senate, however, is different. Each state is represented by two Senators regardless of population. California gets two Senators for its 39 million residents. But Wyoming gets two as well, despite having barely 600,000. At a very instinctive level, that seems unfair. Our underlying view of democracy demands that every person should have an equal voice in selecting government officials.

On a larger scale, some pundits express great concern that the 34 smaller states will have an outsized presence in the United States Senate. A recent Washington Post column noted that roughly “30 percent of the population of the country will control 68 percent of the seats in the U.S. Senate.” Critics also note that these smaller states are generally in the center of the country and are demographically different than the larger coastal states.

If America was supposed to be a pure democracy, this would be wildly inappropriate and troubling. However, our nation was founded on a belief in freedom as well as democracy. The architects of our Constitution recognized that one of the greatest threats to individual freedom would be a tyranny of the majority. Allowing 51% of voters to set rules for the other 49% to live by would be a recipe for disaster, not democracy.

Without the Senate, tyrannical majorities in coastal America could completely ignore the concerns of those who live in the middle of the country. They could pass laws that make sense in New York and California but are completely inappropriate in Missouri or Wisconsin. The Senate protects against such an outcome.

It’s important to note that this does not give the smaller states the ability to ignore the wishes of the coastal states. Those larger states have plenty of power in the House. In practical terms, as the Post notes, “The House and the Senate will be weighted to two largely different Americas.” For the federal government to work, the two Americas need to recognize each other’s’ concerns and find ways to address them.

This requirement to address the concerns of others annoys those who want an efficient government to quickly implement their own pet policies. It irritates those who believe 51% of the people should be able to use the government for whatever purposes they want. It frustrates presidents and other politicians who want to implement their agendas without working through a complex system of checks and balances.

But those concerns are the very reason for having a Senate. It is part of a carefully designed structure of government that forces leaders to build a strong consensus before unleashing the power of the federal government. As such, the Senate is essential to protecting our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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The Culture Leads, Not the Supreme Court

Just about every American election year is peppered with quotes from seemingly very serious people claiming that, for some reason, this is the most important election of our lifetime. This year, we’re also being told that the political battle to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may be the most important confirmation vote of all time. News stories are littered with references to how it will change the direction of the court and the country for a generation or more.

Such rhetoric misses the important reality that we live in a land where the culture leads and politics lag behind. Yes, elections are important. They have consequences. Yes, it matters who serves on the Supreme Court. That, too, has consequences.

But elected politicians and appointed Supreme Court Justices do not lead the nation. They follow.

For example, one of the hot-button issues that has activists worked up is abortion. Liberal activists are terrified that a more conservative court may overturn Roe v. Wade. Social conservatives are thrilled at the prospect. But, it’s important to recognize that the threat to Roe v. Wade is not President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, the threat to Roe v. Wade is the fact that the controversial ruling is far from settled law in the Court of Public Opinion.

As of last month, according to Gallup, 48% of Americans considered themselves pro-life while 48% considered themselves pro-choice. Those numbers are little changed over the past 18 years. And, if anything, they have shifted a bit in the pro-life direction since the 1990s. Ultimately, it is these underlying public attitudes that created a Supreme Court equally divided on the question.

Of course, abortion is far from the only issue on the Supreme Court’s agenda. The Nixon Administration launched an effort in the 1970s giving the federal bureaucracy more power to issue rules for the rest of us to live by. Some call this enormous centralization of power the Administrative State. I call it the Regulatory State. Whatever you call it, the Supreme Court placed few limits. Now, that appears to be changing. In fact, a Brookings Institute article suggests that reigning in the Regulatory State may be one of Kavenaugh’s first big impacts on the court.

Why would this happen? Because the Regulatory State has never enjoyed the consent of the governed. In the nearly half-century of Regulatory State prominence, a majority of Americans has never trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. According to Monmouth University polling, 60% of Americans believe unelected officials have too much power. Just 26% believe the balance between elected officials and the bureaucracy is about right. To top it off, Monmouth reports that 80% believe these officials monitor and spy on American citizens.

The list could go on and on. America is led by a deep cultural commitment to freedom, equality, and self-governance. As a society, we pragmatically apply those core values to the issues of the day and eventually a broad societal consensus is achieved. Elected officials and Supreme Court justices have an important role to play in this process. But, we must never forget that their role is to reflect the nation rather than lead it.

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Is Populism a Blessing or Curse?

As we celebrate our nation’s 242nd birthday, America is caught up in a populist moment. Whether this is a good thing or not depends largely upon how you define populism.

For some, populism is nothing more than a belief that, in America, the people are supposed to be in charge. It’s reminding government officials of the timeless principles eloquently expressed in the Declaration of Independence: governments derive their only just powers from the consent of the governed. All of us are created equal with an unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If that’s what populism is all about, it’s a real blessing.

However, Brookings Institute scholar William Galston properly sees other strains of populism as a fundamental threat to American democracy. Populists, according to Galston, believe there are no limits to what a majority of voters can authorize the government to do. It “puts pressure on the individual rights and limits on public power at the heart of” our system of government.

If populism is about simply winning 51% of the vote and imposing rules for the other 49% to live by, it’s an invitation to tyranny of the majority. That’s a curse that rejects our founding ideals and will destroy the United States. Unfortunately, there are plenty of extremists on both the political right and left embracing this view.

We can leave the definition of populism to academics. A more important task at the moment is figuring out how the nation can move forward to more fully live out its founding ideals. On this topic, Galston offers a helpful four-point framework defining the way our governing system is supposed to work.

The first, what he calls the Republican Principle, is that the people are the “sole source of legitimacy” for our government.  The second is Democracy, a concept suggesting that everybody has an equal right to participate in governing decisions and that the majority rules.

The third point in Galston’s formula is Constitutionalism, a set of enduring rules for formal governance. Fortunately, the American Constitution includes an elaborate system of checks and balances built upon a separation of powers. That is essential for protecting the fourth pillar of Galston’s approach: “creating a sphere beyond the rightful reach of government in which individuals can enjoy independence and privacy.”

In today’s world, we’d call that fourth pillar a commitment to individual freedom. Galston calls it “liberalism”, based on an historic understanding of the term. It does not reflect political liberalism as understood in the 21st century.

This commitment to individual freedom is the most important part of the entire structure. It limits what a majority of voters, a majority of legislators, a majority of Supreme Court Justices, or any president can do to other Americans. That protection of individuals and minority groups is essential to the most basic of all American values: the belief that we all have the right to live our own lives as we see fit so long as we respect the rights of others to do the same.

Galston’s book, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (Yale University Press, 2018)is a healthy reminder of the ongoing challenge of balancing freedom and democracy in the 21st century. There’s plenty I disagree with in it, but even more thought-provoking insights.

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The Immigration Mess

Problems with U.S. immigration policy played a big role in the 2016 presidential election and are likely to do so in election after election until significant changes are made. It’s a serious issue worthy of substantial public debate. However, what passes for a public dialogue on the issue is anything but serious.

It is, for example, heartbreaking to hear about and see pictures of young children separated from their parents at the U.S. border. According to a CBS poll, only 4% of Americans support that approach for dealing with families who enter the country illegally. But, beyond that, there’s not a clear consensus on what should be done.

Under the Obama Administration, families who entered the country illegally were released into the United States and required to report back for a hearing on their status at a later date. Not surprisingly, many failed to report as promised. Also not surprising is the fact that only 21% of Americans support that policy.

Roughly half of all Americans believe that families who enter the U.S. illegally should simply be returned to their home country.  While understandable, that approach raises the question of how we will ensure that those sent home won’t try again to illegally enter the United States. Since coming to the United States could offer a better future for their children, it’s reasonable to assume that caring parents won’t give up after just one try.

Clearly, a debate focused around the narrow question of how to deal with families entering the U.S. illegally will not lead to a lasting solution for the current immigration mess.

Instead, the starting point for a serious debate would focus on what sort of legal immigration the nation is willing to encourage or accept. Most Americans support a generally welcoming immigration policy so long as those who come here can support themselves and do not pose a national security or criminal threat. Such concerns cannot be lightly dismissed. Sixty-one percent (61%) believe that some of those seeking to enter the country illegally are criminals and gang members. Sixty-seven percent (67%) believe that some are seeking handouts and welfare payments.

Coming up with a policy to address those concerns raises an important subset of questions. Do we prioritize those who have valuable skills or relatives of U.S. citizens? How much legal immigration should we allow? What exceptions should be allowed for humanitarian purposes?  How do we classify seasonal workers who want to legally enter the country and then return home? Should the states or federal government determine how many such workers are allowed? How long should new immigrants be required to live in the United States before being eligible for citizenship? The list could go on and on.

While difficult, it is quite possible to build a consensus around policies that respect America’s great tradition as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. As on most issues, there is far more common ground among the American people on immigration than the elites would like to admit.

And, a key part of that common ground is a belief that a functioning system of legal immigration must be supported by a rational program for preventing illegal immigration.

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Politicians Learn How Governments Are Held Accountable

Political leaders often talk as if the right to vote is our most powerful tool for holding government accountable. Voting is important, but its impact is limited by an electoral process that protects incumbents and offers voters’ few meaningful options.

Fortunately, as the Seattle City Council learned recently, there are other ways to hold politicians and governments accountable.

The Seattle politicians passed a law requiring big companies to pay a special tax for every person on the payroll. This “head tax” was the brainchild of a socialist council member Kshama Sawant. She apparently reasoned that big companies like Amazon had enough money and should be forced to kick in a bit more for the good of the city.

While that may have sounded good to progressive political activists, the councilwoman didn’t seem to consider the reality that Amazon could hire people anywhere. The giant employer didn’t have to stay in Seattle and many citizens worried that the new tax would lead to fewer jobs in the city.

Quickly, petition signatures were gathered, the issue was placed on the November ballot, and the city council surrendered. With voters set to repeal the tax on their own, seven-of-the-nine city council members decided to cut their losses rather than endure a five-month debate highlighting how out of touch they were.

The key to understanding this reversal is recognizing that citizens have more power as consumers than we do as voters. Cities and towns must constantly compete for residents, employers, and jobs. That competition places great constraints on the power of local government officials.

The concept of using consumer power to hold governments accountable was first seriously developed in 1956 by Northwestern University’s Charles M. Tiebout. He compared the act of moving or failing to move to the typical consumer decision-making about whether or not to buy a particular product.

Looked at this way, when we choose a place to live, we are “buying” a mix of lifestyle benefits, and the “price” we pay is determined by housing costs, taxes, regulations, and other factors. If the costs go up or the benefits go down, we might initially try voting in a new team to fix the problem. After all, it’s a bit of a hassle to move. But, if the prices keep going up or the services keep going down, we can simply move to greener pastures.

In Seattle, residents quickly recognized that the “head tax” would make it harder for the city to retain and attract quality jobs for its citizens. Had it not been repealed, many Seattle residents would have followed the jobs and moved elsewhere.

There’s a larger lesson here as well. People who mistakenly believe that voting is our most powerful tool for holding government accountable misunderstand how society is governed. They believe governing a city or a society is the responsibility of government alone.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We need a pragmatic all-hands-on-board approach that draws upon family, community groups, businesses, and government to all play a role in governing society. Each of us has a role to play.

As citizens, we can most powerfully influence the governing process by our decisions about what to walk away from… and what we walk towards.

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Let’s End Official White House Visits for Sports Champions

One of this week’s silliest news “controversies” swirled around the Philadelphia Eagles’ cancelled visit to the White House. Pundits on the right were offended that many players refused the honor of a White House invitation just because they don’t like the president. On the left, CNN’s Chris Cillizza was deeply offended by President Trump’s decision to rescind the invite and his “appalling” statement about it.

In other words, the entire episode was simply a Rorschach test that provided a platform for partisans on both sides to voice entirely predictable opinions. If the president said his favorite color was yellow, some would hail the wisdom of the choice while others would find evidence of corruption. That’s just the way things work in politics today.

But this incident reveals a deeper rot in the entire political process. Both sides in the partisan sniping implicitly assume that the president should act like royalty and treat the White House like a palace.  It’s part of a larger attitude pretending that the president’s every utterance is of supreme importance and that he must express an opinion on just about everything.

I disagree.

The president’s job is to lead the government, not bestow royal blessings on successful citizens or offer a running commentary on every fad in the news cycle. Bluntly, I don’t care what President Trump thinks about the Philadelphia Eagles any more than I cared about the March Madness brackets filled out by President Obama. If you want royalty, go to London.

In America, it should be possible to watch a football game or go to the theater without hearing from or about the president. In fact, it should be normal to go about daily life without encountering the intrusion of partisan politics into every nook and cranny of society. Unfortunately, that’s not the case today.

To restore balance in our public life, it’s well past time to establish social boundaries protecting large segments of public life from the civic pollution of politics. We must get rid of the false media narrative that every problem has a political solution and every situation must be analyzed politically. President Trump could take a simple step in the right direction by ending the practice of inviting teams to the White House.

With boundaries protecting society from politics, it would be easier to remember that the president runs the government, not the country. We would see more reminders that almost all positive change in America comes from far outside of official Washington. Leaders like Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates have each had a more lasting impact than any politician.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work in a nation founded upon the ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. Politics do have a role to play in governing our society, but it is not the lead role. Instead, progress comes from unleashing the creativity and resources of individual Americans, families, community groups, churches, entrepreneurs, small businesses, local governments and more. Leadership comes from millions of everyday Americans who work together in community to create a better world.

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Republicans Poised to Gain Senate Seats in 2018

Last December, Democrat Doug Jones won a Senate race in Alabama by defeating a horribly flawed Republican candidate Roy Moore. For the first time, it appeared that the Democrats had a plausible path to winning control of the U.S. Senate in 2018. The Republican advantage was trimmed to a 51-49 margin and a net change of two seats would make New York Senator Chuck Schumer the new Senate Majority leader.

To win the Senate, all the Democrats had to do was win GOP seats in Arizona and Nevada and successfully defend all of their incumbents. At the time, the Democrats had a double-digit lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot and being opposed to President Trump seemed to be all that was needed. It looked like the Democrats were poised to ride a blue wave back to power.

My, how times have changed!

Shortly after Doug Jones won that special election in Alabama, the Republicans in Congress cut taxes and eliminated the Obamacare mandate. Having demonstrated that they could do something that their voters wanted, the GOP prospects began to improve. Now, with the elections just six months away, it seems that Republican are more likely to gain seats in the Senate rather than lose control.

Sure, it’s still possible that the Dems could pick up seats in Arizona and Nevada. But, such an outcome is far from a sure thing as both races are now toss-ups.

And, even if Schumer’s party wins both of those races, the chances of successfully defending all of the vulnerable Democratic incumbents is increasingly in doubt. The Dems are playing defense hoping to hang on to five Senate seats in states that President Trump won by double digits—West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Montana. On top of that, Florida Governor Rick Scott has entered the fray to challenge Democratic Senator Bill Nelson in a toss-up state. Early indications are that Scott has all the energy and momentum in the race.

The numbers clearly favor the GOP. If, for example, the Democrats pick up BOTH toss-up races in Arizona and Nevada, the Republicans need to win just one of the other six competitive races to keep the Senate at a 50-50 tie. With Vice President Mike Pence empowered to cast the deciding vote, the GOP would remain in control.

At this moment in time, however, it seems like the Republicans should expect to do much better than a mere 50-50 tie in the Senate. There is certainly a chance they could win at least one of the toss-up Senate races in either Arizona or Nevada (especially if Martha McSally wins the Republican nomination in Arizona).

Beyond that, Democrats Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly face uphill battles in Missouri and Indiana. It’s very easy to imagine the R’s picking up at least one of those seats. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is probably a slight underdog in her North Dakota re-election bid. In West Virginia, Joe Manchin’s personal popularity may be enough to overcome the fact that President Trump carried the state by 42 points—but it will probably be very close. And, as always, Florida remains a pure toss-up.

Add it all up, and the Democrats need to pull an inside straight to avoid losing seats in the Senate this November.

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The Fundamental Reason President Trump Will Not Be Impeached

President Trump is in no danger of being impeached and removed from office. I say this with confidence despite having no knowledge of what Special Counsel Mueller and his team may find.

That’s because impeachment is a political process rather than a legal process. As a result, things that happen outside the world of government matter far more than the things official Washington obsesses about.

Politically, the most important outside factor governing any president’s fate is the U.S. economy. This truth is confirmed by the two modern efforts to impeach a president. In 1974, President Nixon was forced to resign from office. In 1998, however, President Clinton not only stayed in office but grew more popular over time.

In the months leading up to Nixon’s landslide re-election in 1972, consumer confidence reached its highest level in years. According to the University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment, confidence reached 95.2 in the third quarter of that year. Less than two years later, confidence collapsed all the way to 64.4 and Nixon was forced from office.

Shortly after Nixon’s victory, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached an all-time high. But, in the two years that followed, a brutal recession shook the nation’s confidence and stock prices fell nearly 40%. The numbers don’t begin to capture the bleak mood as the country was forced to ration gasoline for the first time since World War II.

In Bill Clinton’s case, exactly the opposite occurred. When he was re-elected in 1996, consumer confidence was at roughly the same level as when Nixon won his second term. Rather than crashing, though, consumer sentiment improved by nine points in the following two years. Stock prices increased by 28% in 1997 and 16% in 1998. Once again, the numbers don’t tell the full story. The national optimism during Clinton’s tenure was boosted by an emerging tech industry that promised amazing breakthroughs.

In other words, it was the economy that put the final nails in Nixon’s presidential coffin. But, it sustained Bill Clinton through tough times. If the economy performed for Nixon as it did for Clinton, he would not have been forced from office. If Clinton had suffered through Nixon’s economy, many Democrats would have urged him to step aside.

None of this suggests that everyday Americans don’t care about corruption in politics or the toxic nature of our dysfunctional political system. They would love honest politicians who put others first. But in the real world, voters rarely have a choice between the devil and an angel. On the day he was elected president, 64% of voters believed Donald Trump was NOT honest and trustworthy. However, 61% said the same of Hillary Clinton.

Rather than holding out for a saintly politician, pragmatic voters go with the lesser of two evils. As a result, today’s economy is protecting Trump as it did Clinton a generation ago. Since the months leading up to Trump’s victory, consumer sentiment has gone up about the same amount as it did under Clinton. Several polls have shown that Americans feel better about the way things are going than they have in a long time. Stock prices are up 25% as well.

Trump will not be forced from office in such an environment.

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STATE OF THE MIDTERMS

Last December, the midterm outlook looked bleak for Republicans. With the Democrats enjoying a 13-point lead on the Generic Ballot, pundits talked of a “big blue wave.” The question was not whether the Democrats would win the two dozen seats needed to gain control of the House, but whether they might win 40-50 seats in a landslide approaching the Republican gains in 2010.

Since then, Republicans passed a tax cut, eliminated the Obamacare mandate, and took other steps to reduce the regulatory burden. The economy took off, people are feeling better about how things are going in the nation, and recent primaries suggest that the enthusiasm of Republican voters is higher than expected.

As a result, the Democratic lead on the Generic Ballot is down to five points. At that level, control of the House is close to a Toss-Up. Nancy Pelosi’s party may be slight favorites to win the 23 additional House seats they need, but they could easily fall short. While seeking to navigate this newly treacherous electoral landscape, the Democrats are dealing with the reality that the enthusiasm of the progressive base can be a double-edged sword. It can help with turnout but may also create electoral headaches.

Earlier this week, for example, progressives helped social worker Kara Eastman win the Democratic nomination in Nebraska’s second Congressional District. It’s a district that the president won in 2016 and is expected to be competitive this fall. With a more centrist candidate, the race was considered a pure toss-up. With a far-left nominee in the race, however Republican incumbent Don Bacon is now favored to win.

The importance of a single race like this can be seen in the numbers. Currently at ScottRasmussen.com, we rate 202 races as leaning towards the Democrats. Additionally, there are 24 races rated as either a Toss-Up or just barely Tilting towards the Republican. To win control, Pelosi’s party will need to win 16 of these 24 races. Every potentially competitive race they give away makes the odds more challenging. Primaries in the next month or so will give us a good sense of how big a problem this is for the Democrats.

On top of that, the double-edged sword of progressive enthusiasm provides Democrats with another challenge. The issues that appeal to the progressive base are likely to turn off swing voters. Nancy Pelosi recently confirmed that her team will raise taxes if they win. That message will appeal to Bernie Sanders’ supporters but not middle-income families.

And, of course, progressive Democrats want their party to impeach President Trump. The more that such talk dominates the midterm elections, the more it helps Republicans. Impeachment talk will not play well with the swing voters who disapprove of the president but still view him as the lesser of two evils.

It’s been six months since Democrats enjoyed their 13-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot and dreamed of historic gains in the midterm election. With six months to go, there’s obviously plenty of time for the political environment to change again. For now, however, the parties are locked in a tight race-by-race contest that could go either way.

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Was The Blankenship “Momentum” Real?

In the final days before the West Virginia primary, breathless media coverage suggested that businessman Don Blankenship was gaining ground rapidly and had a real shot at winning the Republican Senate nomination. ABC News quoted a “national Republican operative” who said it’s “down to the wire” and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the controversial candidate won.

All this concern even prompted President Trump to tweet that Blankenship “can’t win the General Election” and encouraging West Virginia voters to cast their ballots for someone else.

But Blankenship didn’t win or even come close. Instead, he finished a distant third with just 19% of the vote. It’s possible that the presidential tweet turned the tide. But it’s even more likely that there wasn’t any real Blankenship momentum to unwind.

A couple of weeks before the primary, public polls showed Blankenship a distant third, trailing two quality candidates—Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and Congressman Evan Jenkins. A Fox News poll showed Blankenship picking up 16% of the vote, not far from the 19% he actually received on Election Day. It certainly doesn’t provide any sense of pro-Blankenship momentum.

The Blankenship-was-surging storyline came from “internal polling” leaked to the media. As a general rule, it’s wise to be very skeptical of such internal polls and to remember that the leaker has an agenda. But such skepticism was missing in the run-up to primary day as Politico reported that victory was “within reach” for Blankenship. Not only that, there were reports of “finger-pointing” going on behind the scenes in GOP circles. Some were blaming the White House, some the other West Virginia candidates, and some Mitch McConnell.

How did this happen? I suspect the story took off because elite journalists and national Republican political operatives were predisposed to believe it.

Blankenship was a horrible candidate. He recently spent time in prison on charges relating to a mining disaster that killed 29 miners. His campaign rallies and comments included racist and hateful commentary. Many in the national media believe that conservative voters are primarily driven by racial resentment, especially in places like West Virginia. So, it made sense to them that a candidate like Blankenship was surging.

On top of that, the West Virginia Senate race represents a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP. Incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin is vulnerable in a state that President Trump won by 42 percentage points (68% to 26%). A good candidate could defeat Manchin and help the Republican party retain control of the Senate. Blankenship could not.

Sadly, many national Republican political operatives also have a condescending view of their party’s voters. They were ready to believe in a Blankenship surge because they feared those voters weren’t smart enough to understand what was at stake.

When the votes were counted, however, it was the journalists and operatives who looked foolish. Their frenzied speculation in the election’s final days were as far off the mark as their discussions about how big the Hillary Clinton landslide victory would be in 2016.

Once again, the elites demonstrated how little they understand the American people.

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The Primary Season Has Arrived

After months of speculation and shifting expectations, the midterm elections will start to really take shape in the coming two months. A dozen states will host primaries in May; a dozen-and-a-half more in June.

In the battle for control of the U.S. Senate, we currently know both party’s nominees in three of the GOP’s best pick-up opportunities: Republican Governor Rick Scott is challenging Democratic Senator Bill Nelson in Florida; Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley is taking on Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri; and, Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer is challenging Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota.

Next week’s primaries will determine the GOP nominees in two other states featuring vulnerable Democratic incumbents: West Virginia and Indiana. Donald Trump carried both states by wide margins and both are rated as Toss-ups at ScottRasmussen.com.

In West Virginia, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is a popular figure who won his first election in the state 36 years ago. He’s won statewide elections as Secretary of State, Governor, and U.S. Senator. While Manchin is popular, his party is not. President Trump won the Mountain State by 42 percentage points (68% to 26%).

Tuesday’s primary will determine Manchin’s opponent. Either of the two favorites–Congressman Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey—could present Manchin with a serious challenge. Veteran political analyst Larry Sabato believes that “Jenkins is the most electable, but under the right conditions Morrisey could win too.”

Democrats are hoping that former coal company CEO Don Blankenship pulls off an upset to win the nomination. He served time in prison on charges related to a mining explosion that killed 29 miners. A Blankenship victory next Tuesday would virtually guarantee another term for Manchin. Republicans are breathing easier, though, as recent polls show the former CEO falling behind Jenkins and Morrisey.

Three Republicans are also running for the right to challenge Indiana’s Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly. However, none of the three are unelectable. A pair of Congressmen– Luke Messer and Todd Rokita—have been feuding since college and were the early favorites for the nomination. Former state Representative Mike Braun has self-funded his campaign and made it a three-way race. Braun is seen by some as the frontrunner.

The bitter primary fight has some Democrats in the Hoosier State hoping for a divided Republican party. However, Sabato notes that “it’s only May and the assumption is that Republicans will unite.” He adds that the unification effort will be Vice President (and former Indiana Governor) Mike Pence’s job. As a side note, it’s possible that the Vice President’s brother will be one of the GOP nominees for the House.

Following next Tuesday, then, the contenders will be clearly identified for all the Republican’s five most likely pick-up opportunities in the U.S. Senate. Barring an upset victory by Blankenship, the GOP will have solid candidates in all five. Additionally, each of these races will be conducted in states won by President Trump (four of them by double digits). If the GOP is able to win even one of these seats, it will be very difficult for the Democrats to win control of the U.S. Senate.

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Microtrends, Not Politics, Lead the Nation

If you want to understand where America is heading, a good place to start is with Mark Penn’s new book, Microtrends Squared. Penn came to fame in the 1990s as a pollster in the Clinton White House, later served as Chief Strategy Officer for Microsoft, and is now Chairman of the Harris Poll.

One of the most valuable parts of the book is its implicit recognition of the reality that the culture leads and politicians lag behind. Of the 50 microtrends identified by Penn, only 7 deal with politics. That ratio seems about right. The other 43 highlight trends involving Love and Relationships, Health and Diet, Technology Lifestyle, and Work/Business.

Penn sees these microtrends as “dots on a global impressionist painting that comes to life when you step back and look at it holistically.” He correctly believes they have already “started to upend society.”

As if to emphasize the societal impact, the very first chapter jumps right into a data driven analysis of “Second Fiddle Husbands.” A steadily growing number of working wives earn as much or more than their husbands. Penn doesn’t get distracted arguing whether this is good or bad. As an analyst, he simply notes that this is a new reality with significant cultural implications.

He takes the same approach to identify 49 other microtrends including Independent Marrieds, Wellness Freaks, The New Addicts, Nerds with Money, Happy Pessimists, and Self-Data Lovers. These microtrends may seem small in and of themselves, but they are upending the culture we live in and reshaping the future of the nation.

These microtrends are the ways that society is working out the details of what I have called The Great Turnaround. From colonial times up until the 1970s, everything in America tended to get bigger, more centralized, and more homogenized. Then, the invention of the microprocessor along with the birth of Apple and Microsoft sent American society heading in the opposite direction. Over the past four decades, our nation has steadily become more decentralized and personalized.

Unfortunately, while our society has decentralized, our political system and government have continued on the path to increased centralization. The disconnect between a decentralizing society and a centralizing political system is unsustainable. A one-size-fits-all-government cannot survive in the iPad era. Something has to give.

That tension has weighed on Penn’s assessment of 21st century America. In a 2007 prequel to this book, he saw “boundless opportunities.” He confessed to an “over-the-top” optimism about the promise of the digital era.  Now, the veteran analyst sees a world filled with unintended consequences and a need for society to tame the power that has been unleashed. “Modern life is at a crossroads.” Microtrends “are simultaneously pulling society in different directions, often diametrically opposed.”

I remain more optimistic than Penn (though I believe the toxic political environment is likely to get worse before it gets better). And, I don’t agree with all the recommendations he makes in the closing chapter. But I strongly commend his commitment to raising the alarm about the unfolding cultural changes and challenges facing our nation. Understanding the realities presented in Microtrends Squared is an important first step towards moving our nation forward.

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Politics Polarizes, Community Unites

News outlets are routinely filled with commentary and analysis suggesting that 21st century America is a deeply polarized nation. Countless stories are presented as a battle between conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, private sector and public.

Political activists fan the flames with talking points “proving” that they hold the moral and rational high ground. They convey a sense that anybody who disagrees with them is either stupid or corrupt.

Watching all this makes many people fighting mad and fills them with a burning desire to beat the other team. Far too many nice and reasonable people get so riled up by the partisanship that they do rude and obnoxious things. Friends begin to tune them out and avoid them because their intensity and single-minded focus is tiresome.

The saddest part of all comes when the campaigning ends and people learn the ultimate futility of engaging in politics as usual. Even when your team wins, nothing really changes and the anger increases.

Some commentators bemoan all the anger and long for a more civilized form of political combat. They want to believe that social media or alienated voters or some other outside force is causing the problem.

Such a utopian fantasy misses the point: Polarization is not a cancer on the body politic, it is the lifeblood of politics. Politicians grasping for power and money need polarization to pose as heroes protecting “their” voters from the “other” side.

Polarization distracts attention from the reality that politicians are less important than they think they are. It hides the truth that the culture leads and politicians lag behind.

Perhaps worst of all, political polarization blinds many to the common ground we share as Americans. As a nation founded upon the ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance, we share a common creed:

· Just about all of us believe we have the right to live our lives as we see fit, so long as we respect the rights of others to do the same.

· We also share a nearly universal desire to create a better world by working together in community. That’s the best use of our individual freedom.

Building upon these shared values, America’s real leaders reside far from Washington and serve their communities in a variety of ways. Most importantly, they recognize that governing is not the responsibility of government alone. Instead, every organization and relationship has a role to play in making society work.

Community leaders work through a variety of local groups typically formed to meet a specific need. It could be anything from a volunteer fire department to a beautification committee or theater group. When a need arises, servant leaders seek to unleash the creativity of individual Americans, families, community groups, churches, entrepreneurs, small businesses, local governments, and anyone willing to help.

Most of these efforts produce an important side benefit that is even more valuable than the task at hand. Working together in community build relationships between people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. That builds social capital which can unify a community and a nation.

America is much bigger—and better—than its politics. Our political process may be divided and dysfunctional. But our nation is not. Thankfully, the leadership that can bring us together is already hard at work in communities throughout the land.

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An Epic Power Struggle: Government Fights The Tech Industry

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill is merely the latest round in an ongoing power struggle between official Washington and the tech industry.

It’s a struggle that stems from a core reality identified years ago by Harvard’s Nicco Mele. “The devices and connectivity so essential to modern life put unprecedented power in the hands of every individual.” Empowering individuals is great for everyone except for those elite officials who used to wield more power over the rest of us. “Radical connectivity is toxic to traditional power structures.”

As Mele describes it, smartphones and other tech innovation have led to “a radical redistribution of power that our traditional institutions don’t and perhaps can’t understand.” That failure to understand is clearly on display in the Zuckerberg matter.

Millions of Americans are understandably upset about Facebook’s failure to protect private information. Those who place their faith in traditional governmental institutions believe this should lead to regulation protecting individual privacy rights. But the notion of the federal government protecting our privacy is laughable to millions.

Rather than believing the feds will protect our privacy, most Americans (53%) believe the federal government is engaged in widespread spying on American citizens. Another 29% believe the spying goes on but is not all that widespread. A Monmouth University poll found only 14% believe the government does not engage in such behavior.

This is not just an abstract fear. A majority of Americans are specifically concerned that the federal government has invaded their own privacy. Despite the mistakes made by Facebook, the company’s behavior is widely perceived to be the lesser of two evils.

Another misunderstanding is the belief held by some that the tech industry should be regulated to eliminate the scourge of “Fake News.” As viewed by official Washington, real news comes from traditional media sources like newspapers and major TV outlets. In this world view, “Fake News” refers to information that is circulated on social media without official blessing from traditional news outlets.

The problem with this view, however, is that 77% of Americans believe such traditional news outlets report “Fake News.” And they don’t think it happens by accident.  Most believe that such false reports are released intentionally to push an agenda. Just 13 percent of Americans believe that the media does a very good job covering both sides of political issues fairly.

While those who place their trust in traditional journalists see social media as the purveyor of “Fake News,” a much larger number view social media as an antidote to the “Fake News” peddled by traditional journalists. It gives people a way to learn about issues ignored by the elite media and hear a wider variety of perspectives on things that matter. It may not be perfect but relying upon social media is seen by many as a lesser evil than relying solely upon traditional journalists.

There are certainly legitimate concerns about tech companies and some of their products. It’s also reasonable to ask whether tech companies are too big and should be broken up. But, we should never lose sight of the fact that digital technologies have empowered individuals at the expense of traditional power structures.

For those in power, that’s a cause for concern. For the rest of us, it’s a reason to celebrate.

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Iowa Leads the Way on Obamacare Reform

Lawmakers and bureaucrats in official Washington often act as if their decisions lead the nation forward. News from Iowa this week, however, shows once again that the culture leads and politicians lag behind.

Kim Reynolds became Iowa’s Governor last May when her predecessor (Terry Branstad) resigned to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to China. Reynolds is now running for her own full term in a state where the average Obamacare premiums jumped 57%. “Many Iowans faced a choice of going broke or going without insurance,” according to Reynolds.  “And that’s really not a real choice.”

Seizing the opportunity to solve a problem during an election year, Reynolds signed a bill allowing the Iowa Farm Bureau to offer “health benefit plans” that aren’t covered by the Obamacare regulations. Most significantly, the law will give Iowa residents more choice in the amount of insurance they want to buy.

In purely economic terms, this directly addresses a core reason that insurance prices have jumped so high. The Obamacare regulations mandated that all insurance policies must cover all kinds of medical conditions. Insurance companies loved that one-size-fits-all approach because it forced many people to buy more insurance than they needed or wanted.

For consumers, though, the result of those regulations was sticker shock. An Iowa woman who watched the Governor sign the new law observed “there’s no reason a healthy 32-year-old should be paying more for health insurance than for her mortgage.” Because of Iowa’s new law, she will now have a choice between lower premiums for a basic level of insurance and higher premiums for more comprehensive coverage.

Choice is the key.

The enduring resistance to Obamacare mandates stems from the fact that the law clashed with one of America’s deepest values and cultural traditions. Americans overwhelmingly believe that we have the right to live our own life as we choose, so long as we respect the rights of others to do the same.

That core belief is the reason Obamacare’s individual mandate—a requirement forcing people to buy a specific type of insurance—was so unpopular. Fifteen million Americans said they would drop the insurance coverage if they were allowed to do so. Another six million paid a fine rather than sign up.

These people received a little relief late last year when Republicans in Congress repealed the individual mandate. However, they are still saddled with other mandates requiring insurance companies to sell only the most expensive and comprehensive plans. The states are taking the lead in addressing that problem.

Earlier this year, Idaho passed a law explicitly authorizing insurance companies to sell more basic insurance plans with lower premiums. That effort has encountered strong resistance from the federal government. Iowa has taken a different approach to achieve the same objective. Governor Reynolds and her team found a loophole in the law and are taking advantage of it. It’s likely that many other states will try similar approaches as they search for ways to serve their residents.

The important thing about this development, however, is not the cleverness of the Iowa Governor. It’s about America’s cultural rejection of the idea that bureaucrats know best. Our cultural commitment to freedom will keep driving the process forward and giving individual Americans more control of their own health care choices.

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68 Republican House Seats Potentially At Risk

Democrats must pick up 23 seats to win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives this November. They have plenty of openings since 68 seats currently held by Republicans are at varying levels of risk.

A race-by-race analysis at ScottRasmussen.com shows that 28 of these Republican seats are at a high level of risk (Democrat favored, Toss-Up, Tilt Republican). Fourteen more are modestly competitive while leaning in the GOP direction. Finally, 26 others might be at risk depending upon the political environment this fall.

Seven (7) Republican seats are already tilting or leaning to the Democrats. These are races where Republican incumbents like Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) retired.

Another 13 races are rated as pure toss-ups bringing the number of top-tier Democratic opportunities to 20. Five (5) are found in Pennsylvania due to a court-ordered redistricting plan and most are suburban districts.

Given that midterm election dynamics typically favor the party out of power, all 20 GOP seats rated as toss-ups or tilting in the Democratic direction could easily flip from R to D in November. Adding to the challenge for Republicans is that there are very few opportunities for GOP gains. Only two Democratic seats are rated as toss-ups.

While these realities are encouraging for Democrats, they can’t win the majority without defeating some Republican candidates who are currently favored. In fact, control might be determined by the results in eight (8) Republican seats currently rated as barely tilting in favor of the incumbent party. While each race has its own distinct characteristics, the results are likely to be reflective of the national political dialogue.

For example, Minnesota-3 could be decided by the electoral power of the Republican tax-cuts. In a district Clinton won by 9 points, Democrats hope to use that issue against incumbent Republican Erik Paulsen. On the other hand, Paulsen believes that “tax cuts and regulatory reform have created real momentum in our economy.”  If the tax cut message works, it will help Paulsen keep his job along with many other Republicans in competitive districts.

In Texas-3, John Culberson was seen early on as a potential target for Democrats. Clinton narrowly won his district and the incumbent was slow to build a campaign team and fundraise. But he may have caught a break due to the deep divide between progressives and more centrist candidates. National Democratic strategists openly opposed progressive Laura Moser in the primary, but she made it to the run-off anyhow.

The Democratic civil war may benefit Culberson and other Republicans hoping to keep their jobs. If progressive candidates like Moser are nominated, it could turn off more pragmatic voters. On the other hand, if more centrist Democrats are nominated, it’s not clear whether progressive voters will maintain their enthusiasm to vote in November.

If tax cuts and the Democratic civil war help candidates like Paulsen and Culberson win, the GOP might have a decent election night and retain narrow control of the House.  Still, even a good night for Paul Ryan’s party would probably mean losing 15 – 20 seats.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of potential upside for the Democrats. With 68 Republican seats at risk, Nancy Pelosi’s team can dream of a victory as big as the Republican gains in 2010.

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Dems Get Good News from PA, But There’s a Long Way to Go

Just over a week ago, turnout in the Texas primary raised serious questions about how big the Democratic wave could grow by November. This week, however, Connor Lamb won a narrow special victory in a Pennsylvania district that President Trump had carried by 20 points. Democratic spirits soared and some began dreaming that 100 or more Republican House seats could be at risk.

It’s natural for political types to overstate the importance of the most recent election or the one that’s coming up next. After all, convincing voters that the fate of the world hinges on the results is a key part of getting them out to vote. In reality, however, the events of the last two weeks are just early signs of what might happen rather than what will happen.  It’s important to keep things in perspective.

The good news for Democrats from both Texas and Pennsylvania is that President Trump has energized the opposition. The early results confirm polling and anecdotal evidence that Democratic voters are more excited about voting this cycle than Republicans. It’s almost a mirror image of what happened in 2010 when President Obama energized his opposition party.

If the enthusiasm advantage persists into November, the Democrats are likely to win a majority in the House of Representatives. A race-by-race analysis at ScottRasmussen.com currently projects that Nancy Pelosi’s party would end up with 222 seats while the Republicans would have only 213 (assuming a good turnout for the Democrats). And, there’s plenty of upside for the Democrats if the political winds keep blowing in their direction.

Another good sign for the Democrats is that some of these early expectations can take on the character of a self-fulfilling prophecy. A sense of momentum may help in recruiting top-tier candidates in competitive race and will certainly help the party’s fundraising. On the flip side of the coin, evidence of a coming Democratic wave could open up more opportunities by convincing even more Republican incumbents to retire.

But the recent results include warning signs for Democrats as well. The biggest is Connor Lamb himself. Lamb won in a heavily Trump district by running as a conservative. He proudly embraces the Second Amendment, is personally opposed to abortion, and pledged not to vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. It’s not clear how many progressive Democratic voters are willing to accept such candidates as the price for winning.

In fact, most of the recent evidence suggests that the energy came from voters seeking more progressive candidates rather than centrists. Looking ahead, a primary next Tuesday in Illinois highlights the growing demands for ideological purity from the Democratic base. Seven term Congressman Dan Lipinsky is facing a serious challenge precisely because he has staked out policy positions similar to those of Connor Lamb.

If Democratic voters are unwilling to tolerate even moderately conservative candidates, their party’s path to victory will be severely limited. If the party’s messaging veers hard left and highlights themes such as single-payer health care and impeaching the president, then the Republicans will probably remain in control of Congress.

This is a good week for Democrats, but there are a lot of weeks left in Election 2018.

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The Most Important Demographic for Election 2018

The election season got started this past Tuesday in Texas and the primary results are being analyzed for clues about what they mean for November.

The results confirmed that the Democratic enthusiasm is real, but it’s probably not strong enough to turn Texas blue. The number of votes cast in Democratic primaries nearly doubled from four years ago. However, the 1,037,779 Democratic voters fell half a million short of the GOP’s 1,543,674 votes. Primary votes don’t translate directly into General Election results, but there’s nothing in the data to suggest a big blue wave sweeping over Texas.

However, not all of America is like Texas. The Democratic enthusiasm on display in Texas could easily be enough to give Democrats control of Congress and make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House. Texas results confirmed the conventional wisdom that millions of Democrats can’t wait to express their displeasure with President Donald Trump at the polls.

The question, though, is how excited Republicans are to defend their president and his agenda. His most enthusiastic supporters will be there, but what about the more reluctant Trump voters?

In 2016, the president was propelled to victory with the votes of people who didn’t think he was qualified for the job. Ten percent (10%) of all voters cast their ballot for him despite this enormous reservation. Why did they do so? Partly because they also thought his opponent was unqualified. In other words, Trump was the lesser of two evils.

Today, many of these voters probably disapprove of the president. They don’t like the way he conducts himself and the way that he ignores institutional norms. But, they are still glad he’s in office rather than Clinton. They believe it is good for the country that Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, that there is a serious effort to reduce the regulatory burden, and that taxes have been cut. Is that enough to get these voters to show up at the polls in November? How many of these voters may decide it’s just not worth the effort?

More than likely, the answer depends upon what the Democrats do. Will they nominate centrist candidates or progressives? From the perspective of reluctant Trump supporters, those two options look vastly different. A centrist establishment Democrat might not be that bad. In fact, some reluctant Trumpers might prefer such a candidate to a very conservative GOP candidate. But they would feel much differently about candidates from the left wing of the Democratic party.

The early indications from Texas suggest that the Democratic primary voters are more likely to prefer progressive Democrats and reject the establishment. If that trend continues nationwide, reluctant Trump supporters may conclude it’s worth the effort to show up and vote once again for the lesser of two evils.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go until votes are cast in November. In fact, there’s a long way to go before we even know who the Democrats will nominate in many key races. But it’s quite likely that the reluctant Trump supporters could determine control of Congress for the next two years.

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Cultural Nuances of the Gun Debate

A recent Politico headline shouted a message that liberal Democrats were longing to hear: “Gun control support surges in polls.” Given the fact that Republicans are generally opposed to strict gun controls, that seems like it should be a boost for the Democrats in the midterm election.

Despite that, many Democratic strategists worry that the gun control issue could backfire. Part of this concern stems from the fact that many Senate races are being held this year in GOP friendly states like West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Democrats talking gun control in those states could hand victories to the other team.

But, even beyond certain states, buried in the Politico article is the fact that voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on the gun issue. Forty-one percent (41%) trust the GOP while 37% prefer the Dems. That may seem odd given apparent support for increased gun control, but the polling also showed that a plurality of Americans believes protecting the right of citizens to own guns is more important than limiting gun ownership.

The Democratic woes on this topic are probably the result of cultural differences more than narrow political positions. They simply don’t know how to talk to gun owners.

Most Republicans and half of all independents live in a household with a gun. According to Pew Research, just 25% of Democrats do the same. Guns are very rare in heavily Democratic urban areas, very common in Republican rural America, and fairly common in the contested suburbs.

Culturally, this means the Democrats live in a social circle where few own guns and many view them as an unmitigated evil with no redeeming qualities. Following a horrific mass shooting, they wonder when the rest of America will wake up and agree with them.

But most Americans have a more nuanced view. Rather than seeing guns as evil, 67% of gun owners say a primary reason they have a gun is for protection. Yes, they know that guns can cause problems, but the thought of giving up their gun makes them feel less safe.

Following a horror like the Parkland shootings, gun owners see children who were left unprotected. According to Pew data, 66% of gun owners believe teachers and other officials should be allowed to carry guns in elementary, middle, and high schools.

The polling data can’t possibly capture all the nuances of this discussion. Some people might think it’s great to have armed security guards at the school but want to keep guns away from teachers. Others might have different views. But the fact remains that many Americans believe both that guns can do great damage and are also essential for protection.

Importantly, regardless of the specific details, most Americans see that there are positive benefits to owning a gun. In fact, even half (52%) of non-gun-owners can see themselves owning a gun in the future.

In raw political terms, this helps explain how polls can show strong support for certain gun control measures while also showing that voters trust Republicans more on the issue. Many current and future gun owners can support modest restrictions such as background checks and waiting periods. But they get nervous with politicians who sound like such restrictions are only the first step to getting rid of all guns.

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TIME TO CHANGE THE ELECTION GAME

For political junkies, Monday’s release of a new map for Pennsylvania’s Congressional Districts was one of the biggest news events of the 2018 midterm elections. The State Supreme Court imposed new District boundaries for every single district in the state and created more opportunities for Democrats.

The impact of this ruling has national implications. Prior to the new Pennsylvania map, the projections at ScottRasmussen.com showed that even with a decent midterm turnout for the Democrats, the GOP might cling to a narrow 219-216 majority in the House of Representatives. With the new map, the same projections show the Democrats picking up three more seats and winning control of Congress.

Of course, there’s a long way to go until November and the battle for control of Congress may not end up as close as it appears today. But the fact that a court ruling in a single state could alter control of Congress reveals a much deeper problem with American politics. Rob Richie, Executive Director of FairVote has spent years stating the uncomfortable truth that “American voters don’t select their Representatives, the Representatives select the voters.”

More precisely, both Republicans and Democrats draw district boundaries to select groups of voters who will vote for their team. While there will be elections in all 435 House Districts this year, the way the boundaries were drawn pre-ordained the winner in at least 390 of them.  In November, over 90% of voters will have no meaningful choice and no say as to who represents them in Washington. That’s why Members of Congress typically have more job security than a tenured college professor.

This wretched dynamic contributes mightily to the dysfunction of Congress and to the nation’s toxic political environment. It is time to seriously explore and experiment with other mechanisms for electing Members of Congress.

It’s worth pointing out that the Constitution does not mandate our current system of electing representatives by District. Originally, the states were allowed to select their Representatives in whatever manner worked for them. It would be great to once again allow and encourage states to experiment with new approaches to empowering voters.

One experiment might be to use some form of proportional representation. If 60% of the voters in a state voted for a Republican, 60% of the Representatives would be Republican. That has a certain intrinsic appeal and insures that every vote would truly count. It would also provide an opening for third parties to gain traction because they could attract enough support to win a seat or two in Congress. That can’t really happen in the winner-take-all district approach.

There are other approaches worthy of consideration as well. Check out FairVote.org to learn about Ranked Choice voting and additional alternatives. It would be wonderful for our nation to have state and local governments experiment and see which approaches give voters the greatest power to hold politicians accountable.

The 90% of Congress that the status quo protects from electoral competition won’t like these changes. But, it’s way past time to end the practice of representatives picking their voters.

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The Constitution Is Not The Problem

Writing for The Week, Ryan Cooper made his case that “America’s Constitution is terrible. Let’s throw it out and start over.”

While most Americans revere the document that created our government, Cooper is not alone in his disdain for it. Law professors Adrian Vermeule and Eric Posner expressed their opposition in a book that dreamed of doing away with checks and balances and Constitutional limits on the president. The opposition even includes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has stated that the U.S. Constitution is not a good model for other nations to follow.

Why do they oppose the Constitution? Cooper says “the major problem… is that it creates a system in which elections generally do not produce functioning governments.” He worries that even when one party is completely in charge, only “one big law per year” can get passed. Others express similar concerns about the difficulty political leaders face trying to implement their agenda and guide the nation.

Such comments reveal more about the critics than they do about the flaws of the Constitution. An underlying assumption seems to be that politicians and government must be free to act quickly and efficiently to lead the nation forward. If writing lots of new laws each year—and changing them after every election—was really what the country needed, the Constitution would indeed be a problem.

However, the Constitution recognizes that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. Positive change in America almost always begins far from the halls of power in official Washington. Two guys who dropped out of college in the 1970s have played a bigger role in shaping the world that we live in today than all 8 presidents who have served since then. Those two dropouts were named Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Their achievements reflect the fact that the culture leads while politics lag behind. In the culture, shared experiences and new technologies empower communities to solve society’s problems. Every day, countless individuals and organizations find ways to make the world a little bit better.

In this model, the best political leaders don’t force their agenda on the public. They don’t pretend that their policies and legislation will determine the fate of the nation. Instead, they recognize that government is supposed to follow the people, not rule over them. Politicians are to perform a modest role of giving voice to the decisions that have already been made by the American people.

Given the ambitions of politicians, it’s easy to understand why they would chafe at this more modest role. For those who live and breathe politics, it’s hard to admit that political fixes cannot solve our nation’s health care and education systems or other problems. Those solutions will come from young men and women working in obscurity today to change the world. They will build upon the accomplishments of Jobs and Gates and create next-generation solutions for this generation’s community needs.

All Americans should be thankful for the fact that the Constitution makes it harder for politicians to block such progress. Even more, we should be thankful that American culture remains deeply committed to our nation’s founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance.

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One Major Difference Between 2010 and 2018

Republicans are understandably nervous about the parallels between the 2010 midterm elections that brought them to power and the 2018 midterms where Democrats envision a return to power.

Eight years ago, a polarizing new president was facing his first midterm election. Progressives and conservatives offered wildly different interpretations of his every word. Despite polls showing his major legislative dream was unpopular, that president relentlessly pursued it. His efforts inspired a resistance known as the Tea Party.

On top of that, unnerving interim elections rattled the president’s party. A Republican won the Governorship in New Jersey which was about as unusual as a Democrat winning a 2017 Senate race in Alabama. And, of course, there was the real shock of Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts. If a Republican could win Ted Kennedy’s old seat in a wave year, it’s certainly easy to imagine Democrats winning 2018 Senate races in states like Missouri, Indiana, and West Virginia.

Adding to Republican nightmares, the general trend goes back a lot further. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all came into power with their party in control of the White House. All three lost Congress during their tenure. Never before in American history have we witnessed such a three-peat. Voters have fundamentally rejected both political parties and are constantly in a mood to throw the bums out.

As we head into the 2018 midterms, there is a reasonable chance that President Trump could become the fourth straight president to lose control of Congress. To win a majority in the House, Democrats need to gain 24 seats. In four of the last ten midterm elections, the party out of power has picked up more than 24 seats and the political environment currently seems strong for the Democrats. It’s easy to identify where the Democrats could make their gains. At ScottRasmussen.com, we currently rate 45 House races as potentially competitive. Thirty-eight of them are currently held by Republicans.

For all the similarities, however, there is one huge difference between 2010 and 2018. It’s the difference between Obamacare and the Republican tax cut.

After it passed, Obamacare never gained ground in the court of public opinion. There were no short-term benefits for voters but many unpleasant surprises. Millions were unable to keep their doctor, buying insurance didn’t mean you could find a doctor who would take it, and the prices went up rather than down. Over time, the reality of Obamacare proved to be such a drag on Democrats that Republicans now hold more political power than at any point since the 1920s.

In contrast, the tax cut has already seen a big jump in public approval because the results have pleasantly surprised voters. When the bill was being debated, nearly half expected their own taxes would go up. Now, 90% are finding more money in their paychecks because their taxes have gone down. Not only that, millions of voters have received cash bonuses and pay raises while the news is filled with stories of companies expanding and hiring more workers. Once again, reality is more powerful than rhetoric.

Republicans undoubtedly face a difficult midterm election this year, but the tax cut legislation may enable them to minimize their losses. It might even be enough for the GOP to retain control of Congress.

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The President Presses His Advantage on Immigration

Last week, I noted that President Trump won the shutdown because he instinctively understood the strategic situation far better than Senate Democrats, establishment Republicans, and his other beltway critics. He knew he had a stronger position than the Democrats and used that understanding to his advantage.

This week, in his State-of-the-Union Address, the president showed that he intends to press that advantage in ways that will help Republicans on Election Day. That was especially clear in his most memorable line, “Americans are Dreamers, too.”

In just four words, a president not known for his eloquence turned years of Democratic branding and messaging against them. Trump brazenly and succinctly re-defined the public imagery surrounding the term Dreamers in a way that infuriated the political left. Topher Spiro of the liberal Center for American Progress, called it “intentionally divisive.” CNN reported that others thought the line “marginalized immigrants.”

A more accurate description is that the president has effectively marginalized progressives in the immigration debate.

He did so in a couple of ways. First, as Newt Gingrich noted, the president’s phrase “shifted the focus from a small group to the entire nation.” Politically, that’s a very astute move.

Second, and more importantly, the president tapped into the nation’s deeply held belief in America as the land of opportunity. We see ourselves as a country where people are free to pursue their own dreams and make their own life choices. Most believe that Americans have the opportunity to work hard and create a better life for their children and grandchildren.

We know it’s not perfect, but we want to make it better by creating more opportunities for everyone.

In fact, it is this deeply held belief that makes us sympathetic towards those who were brought here illegally by their parents. We understand why parents would want to give their children the chance to live the American Dream and grow up in the land of opportunity. Many of us, myself included, are proud of the fact that so many millions of people from all around the world think our country is the place to pursue their dreams.

But for that to work, we need to insure that our nation is truly a land of opportunity for all.

Seen in this context, the issue is not a technical question of how to address the legal status of the so-called Dreamers. The real question is how can we insure that the American Dream is alive and well for all?

For that question, border security must be part of the answer. Many Americans find it inconceivable that we don’t have better border security to protect our nation against terrorists and criminals. They can’t understand a political class that refuses to acknowledge the importance of such a basic value.

This is the reality that President Trump grasped and acknowledged with his “Americans Are Dreamers, Too” line. He may not present the details as well as the wonks who pore over position papers all day, but he gets the big picture. In that, he’s behaving like a real estate developer who understands that the most important value of any property is the location. And, on the issue of immigration, the location of his position is squarely in line with the American people.

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The Art Of The Shutdown

President Trump didn’t respond to the so-called shutdown of the federal government in the way that the political class thought he should. He didn’t get personally involved in detailed negotiations to end the impasse and didn’t convey a sense of crisis to the American people.

When all was said and done, this skirmish showed the dangers of underestimating President Trump and his ability to connect with voters on issues the political elites ignore.  His approach worked because he instinctively understood the strategic situation far better than Senate Democrats, establishment Republicans, and his other beltway critics.

First, the president recognized that the term “shutdown” is a dramatic overstatement of what really was going on. It’s true that the budget dispute created stress for government employees who were to be furloughed, but the overwhelming majority of government services continued uninterrupted. In fact, outside of the DC area, nobody really noticed any impact.

If you “shut down the government” and nobody notices, that creates far bigger ideological problems for Democrats than Republicans. So, the president directed his Administration to minimize the impact of Congressional dysfunction on the American people.

Second, the president understood that the fate of the Dreamers is only one part of a much larger immigration issue. As Clinton pollster Mark Penn has noted, the American people want an immigration deal that protects the Dreamers but also includes serious border security measures. Voters reject the open border policy espoused by many Democrats.

If Chuck Schumer’s party wants to protect the Dreamers, all they have to do is accept a border wall and other security measures. If they don’t, the president will happily bring the dispute to voters in November and the Republicans will likely pick up a few Senate seats.

President Trump also understood the appeal of fighting back against politics as usual. Republican voters have varying degrees of discomfort with President Trump’s demeanor, but they love it when he fights the media and the political class.

Rather than cowering and seeking to appease the Washington Post and New York Times, the president brashly blamed the Democrats for whatever problems resulted. That attitude is something many Republican and independent voters can applaud. In practical terms, it’s likely to increase GOP enthusiasm as Election Day approaches.

I am not suggesting that President Trump has suddenly become popular with the American people. His approval ratings have rebounded a bit but remain low by historical standards. It is hard to imagine them moving significantly higher by November.

But it’s important to remember that most voters had an unfavorable view of the president on the day they elected him. A significant number didn’t believe he was qualified to be president but still thought he was preferable to Hillary Clinton.

That reality should haunt Democrats in the wake of the “shutdown” debacle. President Trump, deal maker in chief, broke all the political class rules about how to handle the situation. And, in so doing, he highlighted some of the least attractive features of his opponents’ position. If he is able to keep it up, the Democrats may be at risk of once again making Republicans the lesser of two evils.

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WHERE TO LOOK FOR THE WAVE

It’s normal for the party out of power to gain ground in a midterm election. The big question in 2018 is whether the Democrats will gain enough ground to win a majority in the House of Representatives.

While the political winds currently favor the Democrats, 390 of the 435 House races are pretty well locked in for one party or the other. Only 45 races are even somewhat competitive.

Still, a race by race analysis on ScottRasmussen.com suggests that a normal midterm gain would get the Democrats very close to their goal.

The starting point is 187 races that are rated as either Strong or Likely Democratic and nine more tilting or leaning in that direction. With decent midterm turnout, the Democrats would win all of these races bringing their total to 196.

With a good midterm turnout, the Democrats could also win just about all of the toss-ups or races currently just tilting in the GOP direction. These are races like the open seat contest in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. Republican incumbent Dave Reichert opted out of a re-election battle in a District where Hillary Clinton attracted more votes than Donald Trump. Barack Obama also carried the District in both 2008 and 2012.

While nothing is certain in politics, Washington-08 is the type of race Democrats should expect to win with a good mid-term performance. At ScottRasmussen.com, we place 17 races in this category. Winning them all would get the Democrats to 213 seats, still five votes short of a majority. To get over the top, the current minority party will need an electoral wave that washes out some seats that would remain in GOP hands during a normal election cycle.

At ScottRasmussen.com, we’ve identified 19 races that currently Lean Republican but could be at risk in a wave election. That means the best way to tell if a wave is coming is to follow these 19 races. If the Democrats do well in these campaigns, they will have a very good chance of winning a Congressional majority. On the other hand, if the GOP can solidify its position in these races, there will be no wave and the Republicans will preserve a narrow majority.

The nineteen wave watch districts are California-45 (Mimi Walters), Georgia-6 (Karen Handel), Illinois-6 (Peter Roskam), Illinois-12 (Michael Bost), Iowa-1 (Rodney Blum), Iowa-3 (David Young), Kansas-2 (Open), Kansas-3 (Open), Kentucky-6 (Garland Barr), Maine-2 (Bruce Poliquin), Minnesota-3 (Erik Paulsen), Michigan-8 (Mike Bishop), New Jersey-7 (Leonard Lance), New Jersey-11 (Rodney Frelinghuysen), Pennsylvania-7 (Patrick Meehan), Pennsylvania-8 (Brian Fitzpatrick), Pennsylvania-15 (Open), and Utah-4 (Mia Love).

Geographically, many of these districts should be friendly to Democratic challengers. Hillary Clinton won seven of the 19 districts and came very close in five more. Additionally, ten of the nineteen are from states Clinton won in her presidential bid. Four others are from Pennsylvania, a state that the president carried by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Obviously, it’s very early in the campaign season and a lot can change by November. But the Democratic path to a Congressional majority must almost certainly pass through these 19 Congressional Districts.

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Election 2018 Scoreboards: Who’s Up and Who’s Down?

Looking ahead to Election 2018, the numbers are close enough for either party to end up in control of the House, the Senate or both. The final outcome will be determined by a combination of the races in play, the fundamentals in each race, and the strength of the political winds in November.

To track all of this, I’ve rolled out a new service at ScottRasmussen.com  that will provide constantly updated Scoreboards for the SenateHouse, and Governor’s races. In addition to the overall scoreboards, we provide a status and background page for each and every race.

Currently, the Senate Scoreboard shows that if the Democrats get good turnout on Election Day, they could end up with a 51-49 majority by picking up Republican held seats in Nevada and Arizona.

On the other hand, if the Republicans enjoy a good night, they could add to their current majority and end up with a 55 to 45 advantage. In that case, Republicans would pick up seats currently held by Democrats in Missouri, Indiana, Florida, and West Virginia.

At ScottRasmussen.com, our Scoreboards will always present a range of potential outcomes to reflect the reality that none of us know what the political environment and turnout will be in November. Most likely, the gap between the different possible outcomes will grow smaller over time as we get a better handle on the dynamics. But, given our volatile political environment, even that can’t be taken for granted.

In the House of Representatives, our Scoreboard currently shows that a good Democratic turnout would leave Nancy Pelosi’s party just short of a majority with 213 seats (218 are needed for control). That’s a fairly normal midterm election result with the party out of power gaining ground.

However, some people anticipate this could be a “wave” election for the Democrats with extraordinary turnout. If that happens, they could end up with a solid majority of 232 Democrats to just 203 Republicans.

Currently, the individual race ratings at ScottRasmussen.com are calculated by aggregating the projections of pundits such as the Cook Political Report, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Decision Desk, and Inside Elections. As the year unfolds, we will be adding other pundits, additional data, and our own assessment to the calculation. All information used to reach our decision for each race will be available on the site.

It’s important to stress the preliminary nature of all this and how many different factors could shift the results. One major factor is that court cases in several states have so-far successfully challenged the maps that define their Congressional Districts. If these maps are re-drawn in advance of the 2018 elections, that could have a significant impact on the final outcome.

In addition to rating the races, ScottRasmussen.com will provide a wealth of additional information through a partnership with Ballotpedia, the encyclopedia of American politics. Currently, we provide access to candidate bios, key demographic data, and Ballotpedia’s profile of the race. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be adding a wealth of other information concerning issues, key votes, endorsements, prominent campaign spokespersons, campaign ad reviews and more.

Regardless of what happens on the campaign trail, ScottRasmussen.com will be the place to follow it and understand it.

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THE GROUND IS SHIFTING UNDER OBAMACARE

President Trump has perfected the art of antagonizing his opponents with provocative tweets. He demonstrated this skill recently in declaring that the tax reform act, by repealing the Obamacare mandate, had effectively repealed Obamacare.

This generated a number of stories from left leaning pundits pointing out that there’s a lot more to Obamacare than the mandate. Sarah Kliff, writing for Vox.com, noted that many Republican voters believed the president and hoped that would bring an end to efforts to undo the rest of Obamacare.

But, many Republicans in Congress seem intent on continuing to fight for repeal of the controversial law. A skeptical report in The Hill noted that the GOP had tried and failed to accomplish that goal in 2017. In their view, “nothing significant has changed since then that would now make the path easier. In fact, the obstacles appear even greater now that Democrat Doug Jones has been elected to the Senate from Alabama.”

It’s true that there is more to Obamacare than the mandate. It’s also true that, in a purely political sense, there’s little reason to believe that Republicans will be able to repeal Obamacare in 2018.

But the repeal of the Obamacare mandate fundamentally changes the political dynamics in the real world far from Washington, DC.

Last year, an estimated 15 million Americans would have dropped out of Obamacare if they could. Now they can. Another 6.5 million paid a fine rather than sign up for coverage. This means that more than 20 million people directly benefit from the repeal of the mandate.

Most of these people would prefer to buy insurance that meets their needs, but the Obamacare mandate did more than say that people had to buy insurance. It said they had to buy a very comprehensive and expensive set of benefits. Especially for young people, it was often far more insurance than they needed and far more costly than they could afford.

The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to health insurance. Different people have different needs and preferences.

This reality will create a demand for a variety of insurance options to meet a variety of needs. Some people will prefer more comprehensive coverage and higher premiums. Others will opt for less coverage and lower premiums. All will be covered against catastrophic events but day to day coverage will vary.

Sooner or later, Congress will begin offering ideas to meet this demand. One proposal introduced last year would allow insurance companies to offer a variety of options so long as they offered at least one plan with the full Obamacare coverage. Once those plans are available, they will find plenty of eager buyers.

As younger Americans consider the alternatives, they will certainly take advantage of the fact that we live in an era of rapid technological innovation. Self-monitoring of their own health is leading millions to make better lifestyle choices. The ability to conduct EKG’s on your smartphone is already here and soon people will be taking x-rays on the mobile devices.

Whether or not these innovations technically repeal all of Obamacare is really beside the point. They will accomplish something far more important—bringing down the cost of health care while improving the health of the nation.

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A Viewers Guide to the Midterm Elections

Forget the Super Bowl! For millions of Americans the biggest spectator sport of 2018 will be the midterm elections. The political winds currently favor the Democrats, but it’s impossible to know how strong they’ll be blowing come November. Five key races can give casual fans a good sense of what to expect.

In the Senate, the races to watch will be held in Nevada, Indiana, and Missouri. Nevada’s Dean Heller is the only Republican seeking re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton. Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill are Democrats fighting to keep their job in states that President Trump carried by nearly 20 points.

These three are must win states for the Democrats. If they win all three, a series of other close races could very well break their way to give Democrats majority control of the Senate.

If the parties split these races, the GOP would likely hang on to a narrow Senate majority. There just aren’t enough other races for the D’s to pick up seats.

At the other extreme, if the Republicans sweep all three, additional Democratic incumbents might also be in trouble. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp would be at risk and the GOP could make significant gains.

Of special importance in these races is the fact that the Senate plays a key role in judicial appointments. Voters in Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, and North Dakota will want to avoid giving Democrats the ability to block President Trump’s judicial appointments. That alone could keep the Senate under Republican control.

Shifting to the House, the Democrats are almost certain to pick up seats because the party out of power just about always gains ground in the midterms. However, with 435 seats in play, there are no “must-win” races for either team.

There are, however, a few races to give a sense of how good a night the Democrats are likely to have. The first is Illinois-6, currently held by Republican Peter Roskam. This suburban district was carried by Hillary Clinton. Not only that, special elections this year have shown that the GOP is struggling to hang on to suburban voters. If Roskam is still competitive come November, the GOP might hold their losses to a dozen seats or so.

A more difficult race for the Democrats is Utah-4, currently held by Mia Love. Utah is typically hostile territory for Democrats but they’ve recruited a good challenger in Salt Lake City Mayor Ben McAdams. Still, this is the kind of seat the D’s could win only on a very good night. If we get to November and this race looks competitive, it means that the Republicans have already lost suburban seats like Roskam’s and the Democrats could pick up 35-40 seats. They need just 24 to win control.

The biggest factor in determining control of the House will be the economy. A strong economy helps the GOP immensely (especially after passage of tax reform). However, a second critical factor might be how much Democrats talk about impeaching President Trump. If they do that rather than focusing on issues, it will be good news for the GOP.

None of us can know what things will look like in November, but right now control of the House seems to be a pure toss-up.

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Politics of Tax Reform Depends Upon Salesmanship of President Trump

Many Democratic political leaders have convinced themselves that the Republican tax reform bill will be a great boost for the Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. They could be right, but the outcome is far from certain. Instead, the political implications will be determined by how the economy performs and President Trump’s salesmanship.

The economy matters most of all. If it sputters or tanks in 2018, nothing will save the Republican majorities in Congress. But if the economy keeps improving, President Trump will have a chance to turn tax reform into a political windfall for his party.

Presidential salesmanship has always had a big electoral impact. In 2002, Democrats thought that the Bush tax cuts and the President’s drive to invade Iraq would doom the GOP. Instead, the president campaigned aggressively on his agenda to help his party regain control of the U.S. Senate.

In 2004, President Bush’s poll numbers were soft heading into the summer and many expected he would lose his bid for re-election. At the time, the War on Terror was the top issue in the nation. As the president campaigned, confidence in the U.S. efforts improved and so did the president’s poll numbers.

In 2012, President Obama’s poll numbers were also soft heading into the summer of his re-election bid. At that time, the key issue was the economy rather than a national security focus. But as the president campaigned, public confidence in the economy improved enough for President Obama to be re-elected.

So, the key question for 2018 will be President Trump’s salesmanship. With a decent economy, he’ll have a lot to work with and sell. In addition to tax reform, he’ll point to the very significant steps he’s taken to reduce the regulatory burden on the economy. And, he’ll benefit from the fact that only about 5% of Americans will see their taxes go up next year. According to the left-leaning Brookings Institute, over 80% will see a tax cut averaging over $2,000.

If the president can convince enough swing voters that his regulatory and tax reforms are responsible for creating a better economy, the Republican Party could have a relatively good midterm election.

Another advantage for the president and his party is that ten Senate Democrats are running for re-election in states won by the president in 2016. A good sales effort by the president will make it difficult for Senate Democrats to explain their vote against tax reform in states like Indiana, Missouri, and West Virginia.

In addition to the economic message, the president will also be able to emphasize his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and other judicial appointees. In many Republican leaning states, that will be a very powerful reason to retain a GOP Senate majority.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that Republicans are going to have a good election night next November. Midterm elections almost always result in losses for the party in power. However, the extent of those losses will depend on what happens between now and next November rather than by the details of the tax reform bill.

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Republican Civil War Could Hand Senate to Democrats

With Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama, Democrats now have at least a plausible path to winning control of the U.S. Senate in the 2018 elections. It’s a difficult path to be sure, but it could happen.

The first step will be for Democrats to successfully defend all of their Senate incumbents next November. That’s not going to be easy because the list includes 10 running in states that voted for Donald Trump. But, the results from Alabama suggest that it could happen. If it does, all Democrats would need to win the Senate is to pick up a pair of GOP seats. And they definitely have a chance to do so in Arizona and Nevada.

The Alabama results indicate that Democrats might be positioned for a very strong midterm election. Especially notable was the strong African-American turnout that lifted Jones to victory. If minority voters remain engaged at similar levels next November, Republicans will have an enormous challenge on their hands.

Not only that, many Republicans chose to stay home rather than vote for Moore. If Republican turnout is depressed and minority turnout is up, the Democrats could win both Houses of Congress. And, if that wasn’t enough, nearly half of college educated white women in Alabama showed up and cast a vote for the Democrat.

If the same trends continue in 2018, it will be a nightmare election for the GOP.

While some would like to write off the stunning upset in Alabama to a flawed candidate who ran a terrible campaign, the Moore candidacy was really just the symptom of a much deeper problem: Republican voters have little trust or confidence in the Republican establishment.

It’s hard to blame them. After all, the establishment spent seven years collecting votes on a promise to repeal Obamacare. Voters gave the GOP control of Congress and the White House only to learn that the elected politicians didn’t really mean it. For many, that wasn’t really a surprise. It simply confirmed what they had seen before. Politicians are good at making promises but not so good on delivering.

Since GOP voters have come to see little value in sending traditional Republicans to Washington, they have become more and more attracted to people who will fight the status quo. Occasionally, that leads to a quality Senator like Mike Lee from Utah. More often, however, it leads to candidates like Roy Moore, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock who lose elections that Republicans should win.

Establishment leaders are correct to point out that a more careful vetting process and thoughtful candidate selection would lead to more Republican victories. But that doesn’t mean they are blameless in the party’s Civil War. Quite the opposite, in fact; a health leadership would seek out quality candidates who can truly represent their voters, run a successful campaign, and then deliver on their promises.

Until the Republican leaders can change their tune and earn the trust of their voters, the party’s Civil War will continue. That will lead to losing other elections they should win, and quite possibly to the Democratic control of the United States Senate.

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76 Years Ago, It Was A Woman Who First Addressed the Nation About Pearl Harbor

There are events in history that no one alive will ever forget. But time moves on and those who will never forget eventually leave this earth. The rest of us know it only from the history books.

One of those events was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Only a handful of Americans alive today actually remember the day President Franklin Roosevelt said would forever live in infamy. Even fewer remember that the first Administration spokesperson to address the nation that day was not the president, but First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

In those days, radio was the hot communications technology and just about all Americans listened to it. President Roosevelt famously bonded with the American people through a series of “Fireside Chat” broadcasts. But the First Lady also hosted a weekly show that aired every Sunday night.

Upon learning of the Sunday morning attack on Pearl Harbor, the decision was made for Mrs. Roosevelt to go ahead with her regular weekly broadcast. She did, however, change the introduction to say she was speaking “at a very serious moment in our history.” Her commentary informed the nation that “The Cabinet is convening and the leaders in Congress are meeting with the President.”

The First Lady went on to disclose the treacherous fact that “the Japanese ambassador was talking to the president at the very time that Japan’s airships were bombing our citizens in Hawaii and the Philippines.”

Mrs. Roosevelt made it clear that all Americans were involved in this struggle. Although it’s impossible to imagine today, the political elites in the 1940s were not exempt from the obligations imposed on other Americans. Speaking as a mother, the First Lady shared her concerns. “I have a boy at sea on a destroyer, for all I know he may be on his way to the Pacific. Two of my children are in coast cities on the Pacific.”

But she maintained her poise. “We know what we have to face and we know that we are ready to face it.” She expressed confidence that “Whatever is asked of us I am sure we can accomplish it. We are the free and unconquerable people of the United States of America.”

And then she did something no political figure would do in the twenty-first century. Rather than encouraging everyone to obsess over the latest new and political responses, the First Lady said it was time to “go about our daily business.” But to do so “more determined than ever to do the ordinary things as well as we can.” She added that “when we find a way to do anything more in our communities to help others, to build morale, to give a feeling of security, we must do it.” And then Eleanor Roosevelt practiced what she preached by going “back to the program we had arranged.”

That last bit of advice makes as much sense today as it did 76 years ago. It’s important to be aware of the news and political responses, but it’s the daily business of life that is even more important. The way to move our nation forward is to “do the ordinary things as well as we can” and “do… more in our communities to help others.”

Thank you, Eleanor Roosevelt.

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What if Roy Moore Wins?

When Donald Trump appointed Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General, it was widely assumed that his permanent replacement would be a Republican. But the scandals and allegations surrounding Republican nominee Roy Moore have challenged that assumption.

It would be a stunning turn of events for a Democrat to win in a state Donald Trump won by 28 percentage points. If that happens, as I noted last week, Democrats might win control of the Senate in 2018.

But what would it mean if Roy Moore wins?

A few things are pretty obvious. First, it would indicate that the Democrats have no realistic chance of winning anywhere in the South. The toxicity of the Democratic brand in rural states might also indicate problems for Democratic Senators running for re-election in West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Montana.

Second, a Moore victory would be further proof of how little credibility the national media has outside of the political class. Many who are troubled and offended by Moore are also troubled and offended by the apparently partisan behavior of the Post. Why didn’t the left leaning paper report Moore’s problems before the Republican primary? If they had done so, Moore wouldn’t be the GOP nominee and the Democrats wouldn’t have a chance.

Third, it would also show the complete rejection of the Republican establishment in Washington. Mitch McConnell and his team did everything possible to block Moore. If the tarnished candidate wins, it will be because running against both national Republicans and the national media is a potent strategy.

But the deeper implications of a Moore victory, however, would be to again show that voters grade politicians on an ethical curve. No matter what the offense, voters assume that others in office have done the same or worse.

This goes to the core of the dispute between voters and the political elite. The elite view themselves as noble public servants whose wise leadership is needed to move the country forward. They believe politicians should be role models for society to follow. Most voters find such a job description laughable. Instead, politicians are generally viewed as mercenaries or brokers sent to do a particular job.

This was clear in 2016 when Donald Trump won 87% of the evangelical vote. It’s not that evangelical voters approved of President Trump’s lifestyle or thought he was one of them.

Instead, they recognized that one of the most important tasks of a president was to appoint people to the Supreme Court. Many evangelicals believe that Hillary Clinton would appoint Justices hostile to religious liberty and Trump had promised to do the opposite. In other words, they voted for Trump so they could get someone like Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

If Roy Moore wins, it will be with the votes of many people who find him reprehensible. They will not be voicing approval of his behavior, but sending him to do a job in the political swamp. Some will hold their nose and conclude that voting for Moore is a necessary evil. They will vote for him to help repeal Obamacare, reform taxes, cut spending, and deal with immigration.

For many Alabama voters, electing Moore may be seen as a lesser evil than giving Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

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Democrats Have a Clear Path to Senate Majority in 2018

Until recently, it looked like Republicans were almost certain to retain control of the U.S. Senate following the 2018 mid-term elections. Many commentators noted that Nancy Pelosi’s team might have a shot at winning control of the House. But the Senate was different. Only a third of the Senators stand for election each cycle and the GOP was protected by a very favorable electoral map.

Only one GOP Senator (Nevada’s Dean Heller) is running for re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton. The only other soft spot in the GOP lineup is Arizona, where Senator Jeff Flake’s fights with President Drumpf made it impossible for him to win re-election. Flake dropped out and there is an open seat in this toss-up state.

But, Republicans assured themselves, even if the Democrats win both Arizona and Nevada, they still end up only with a 50-50 tie in the Senate. In that case, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote to keep the GOP in charge.

All of a sudden, though, the landscape has shifted to give the Democrats a clear path to disrupt that narrative. The immediate cause of the shift is Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. It is virtually impossible for a Republican to lose a Senate seat in the South, but Moore’s well on the way to proving it can be done.

If Democrat Doug Jones defeats Moore, the GOP majority will dwindle to 51-49. Picking up Arizona and Nevada in 2018 (while protecting all their own seats) would give the Democrats a Senate majority. That’s not an unreasonable expectation given last week’s election in Virginia.

However, the GOP problems are deeper than just Roy Moore. The underlying difficulty is their collective failure to deliver on campaign promises. After seven years of promising to repeal Obamacare if they had the power to do so, they didn’t. Some Republican voters blame Donald Drumpf for not having a sound legislative strategy. Others blame Congressional Republicans for behaving the way Congressional Republican always behave. Regardless, the bottom line is that voters did their part, their leaders did not. Some GOP voters may simply conclude it’s not worth the effort.

Additionally, because there are always surprises in politics, other seats may open up for the Democrats. While sad to contemplate, there is a reasonable possibility that John McCain will leave the Senate early. If that happens, Arizona will become the third state in half a century to host two Senate elections in the same year. And, it’s quite possible that Republicans could lose both.

To be clear, I am not saying that the Republicans will lose control of the Senate in 2018. The Democrats have problems of their own including a message that doesn’t resonate in large segments of the country. And, they are defending ten Senate seats in states won by President Drumpf. The Republicans have legitimate pick-up opportunities in several of them.

At the same time, it’s important to note the seismic shift in the midterm election dynamics. If the Democrats win in Alabama, they will for the first time have a clearly definable road to victory in the midterm Senate elections.

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WILL TRUMP BECOME 4th STRAIGHT PRESIDENT TO LOSE CONGRESS?

Tuesday’s election results suggest that Democrats have a reasonable chance of winning control of the House in 2018. If that happens, Donald Trump would become the fourth consecutive president to enter the White House with his party in control of Congress and then lose Congress during his tenure.

In some ways, this seems to be the new normal. After all, it’s a pattern that has existed for a full generation since a young Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992. But, it’s truly extraordinary in the longer arc of American history. In fact, prior to 1992, it had never even happened twice in a row.

Obviously, there’s no certainty that the Republicans will lose control of the House in 2018. And, of course, it’s not just Trump. Many Republican voters reserve a special level of hatred for the GOP establishment headquartered in Congress. Regardless of who they blame, the reality is that Republicans promised a lot would happen if voters put them in charge. And it hasn’t. They couldn’t even repeal Obamacare despite seven years of promises to do just that.

In such an environment, it may be hard to maintain enthusiasm among the GOP base. Comparing the polling data to actual results from last Tuesday highlights this reality. In 2014 and 2016, polls underestimated opposition to President Obama and Republicans reaped the benefits. Some GOP fans actually came to believe that the pollsters were intentionally understating Republican strength.

That didn’t happen in 2017. On Tuesday night, the Real Clear Politics average showed Democrat Ralph Northam with a 3-point lead. He won by nine. While it’s just a working theory, my hunch is that in all recent elections, the pollsters have consistently underestimated the enthusiasm of the opposition party. When Obama was in power, Republicans outperformed the polls. With Trump in office, we may start to see the reverse.

This suggests that something bigger is going on than simply the presidencies of Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump. It’s a fundamental rejection of both political parties.

The ideological diversity of the last four president gives a sense of how complete the rejection has become. They included a centrist Democrat (Clinton), an establishment Republican (Bush), a leftist Democrat (Obama), and a populist Republican (Trump). The first three were unable to satisfy voters enough to keep their party in power. Unless something changes dramatically, the Republicans under Trump will suffer the same fate.

The broader context of the political environment is that it’s been 45 years since a majority of Americans have trusted the federal government to do the right thing even most of the time. And, yet, during the 45 years, we’ve seen the growth of the Regulatory State shift more and more power to a distrusted government. And the bureaucracy has come to believe it has the authority to intervene in just about any aspect of daily life.

At the same time, thrilling new technologies have empowered individual Americans by giving them more choices and information than ever before. There is a core conflict between a decentralizing society and a centralized government that no president or political party can master.

It’s time for our political leaders to stop the pointless argument about whether the American people be governed from the left, the right, or the center. Instead, the American people want to govern themselves.

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America’s Founding Ideals Are Worth Fighting For

These are tough times to be optimistic about America. Terror attacks in New York City, mass shootings in Las Vegas, and campus violence against targeted speakers fill the news. Rather than addressing the problems, partisan politicos act as if each tragedy is merely a platform for their own talking points.

Despite this, I am optimistic about America’s future. Pessimistic about our politics, to be sure, but optimistic about our nation.

There are two core reasons for this optimism. The first is that politicians don’t lead the nation. There are countless more effective ways that we can work together in community and create a better America. Community problem solving is all around us, although we rarely pause to consider its power.

The second reason for optimism is that Americans remain united by a core ideal that an old professor of mine called the American Creed. It’s a belief that we all have the right to live our own lives as we see fit so long as we respect the rights of others to do the same. Despite the failure of our political system, most Americans still revere our nation’s founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance.

It is no longer enough, however, to simply share a belief in the American Creed. That Creed is being corrupted by a toxic political environment and attacked directly by extreme activists committed to its destruction. In the face of such assaults, we must actively fight for America’s noble founding values. Importantly, though, we must fight for those values through means that honor them.

More than anything else, this means we must be willing to defend the rights of those with whom we disagree. Christians who understandably want the right to practice their own faith must be willing to defend the right of Jews and Muslims and others to practice their faith.

Defending freedom is often difficult, especially when considering topics such as Hate Speech. Most Americans are understandably uncomfortable with allowing people to utter hateful racist tirades or hurl epithets at police.

For those of us who believe in free speech, it’s often hard to publicly defend the right of people to say stupid and offensive things. As we do so, it’s not enough to say freedom of speech is in the Constitution. Instead, we need to explain why it still makes sense in the 21st century. Why would giving the government power to ban hate speech create more problems than the hate speech itself?

Fortunately, there is likely to be a receptive audience for this message. A recent Cato Institute study found that 82% of Americans recognize “it would be difficult to ban hate speech because people can’t agree what speech is hateful and offensive.” Pragmatic Americans recognize that President Obama would ban entirely different types of speech than President Trump. And, just about everyone recognizes that neither president should have the power to do so.

Defending America’s noble ideals even means insuring a fair trial for a man who pledged loyalty to ISIS and mowed down innocent people in New York earlier this week. It’s hard to say that a man who wantonly killed 8 others deserves our medical care and fair procedures. But it’s not about him. It’s about showing how America’s founding ideals are what make us an exceptional nation.

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Freedom of Speech Does Not Guarantee Understanding

Daily Beast columnist Jay Michaelson is unhappy with America’s football fans.

In a thoughtful column, he argues that “kneeling for the anthem is a sign of respect, not disrespect, for our country and the values it stands for.” He adds that “To protest—for whatever cause, left or right wing—is to make real the best ideals of America: freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law. Protesting brings those ideals into reality.”

But as players kneel in protest, America’s football fans have not been pleased. Ratings and attendance are down while public perceptions of the NFL have fallen dramatically.

There are many reasons for this, but the fundamental problem is that the message any audience sees and hears is often different than what the messenger meant to convey. That’s true in any form of communication on any subject. Michaelson has a clear idea of what he thinks the players taking a knee are trying to say. But others hear something else entirely because we all tend to view the world through our own filters and perceptions.

Many fans (or former fans) enjoy football and other sports as a space free from blatant political commentary. These fans are probably just irritated that political activists have invaded their weekend entertainment. In their view, the players are entertainers and should do what they’re paid to do.

Others have come to see the kneeling as a sign of disrespect for the flag, the nation, and the military. That may not be the intent, but that’s the perception. Michaelson recognizes this and wants us to “stop talking about their form of protest, and engage with what they’re trying to say.” But, in the eyes of many, the form of protest has become the central message of the effort.

I happen to agree with Michaelson that the freedom to protest and call attention to our nation’s shortcomings is essential to progress. Additionally, I devoted an entire chapter of Politics Has Failed: America Will Not to the tragic legacy of institutionalized racism. It is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and the NFL’s celebrity voices could play an important role in that process.

But it is also time for the protesters to recognize that their efforts may be doing more harm than good. As long as there is nothing in their employment contract to prevent kneeling for the anthem, they certainly have the right to protest in this manner. That’s what freedom of speech is all about.

But freedom of speech does not come with a guarantee that you will be understood on your own terms. Players and others may think fans are misinterpreting their intentions, but that doesn’t mean the fans are wrong. Instead, it means that the protesters must find a better way to communicate their message.

I don’t know what that might look like, and I definitely do not think the players should give up and remain silent. But it’s probably time for the protesters to declare victory and develop a new approach that can win broad support from their fans and the public at large.

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Trump Proving Politicians Not As Important As They Think They Are

Shortly after World War II, Congress passed a law requiring the federal government to assume responsibility for managing the economy. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy claimed that government stewardship was responsible for the post-War economic boom. In those heady days, there was even talk about how economists had learned to fine-tune the economy.

Looking back, the hubris of the 1960s governing elite seems laughable. Studies have shown that the best economic models of that era failed to predict most of what actually happened. We know today that the post-War boom had more to do with pent-up demand and America’s global dominance than government policies. By the 1970s, government policymakers seemed unable to understand or address the combination of high inflation and growing unemployment.

Being pragmatic, most Americans eventually came to agree with Ronald Reagan’s assessment that “government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.” He connected with everyday Americans by declaring that the most frightening words in the English language were “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” His words still resonate today as a majority of Americans believe the federal government has too much power. Only 7% think it has too little.

But a growing political class resisted that view and retained faith in the idea that the government could manage the economy. In fact, those in official Washington came to believe that government bureaucrats could create a better nation by managing every aspect of life in America. They cheered the dramatic growth of the Regulatory State and were convinced that bureaucrats know best.

Thus began a wide divide between everyday Americans and political elites.

That background helps explain the intense hatred of President Donald Trump. Some of the hatred stems from the president’s aggressive style and tortured language. Even many of the president’s supporters cringe at some things he says and does.

But, I suspect that the deeper cause of this hatred stems from the fact that President Trump is exposing the core myth of the political class. The privileged elites in Washington think the nation needs their wise leadership, but the president was elected by people who disagree. And, the president is proving that the voters are right.

According to the political class worldview, this Administration is doing everything wrong. Rather than steady leadership from smooth talking officials, the White House has been consumed with turmoil and distracted by the president’s unpresidential tweets. The political atmosphere is more poisonous than anyone alive today can remember. The government continues to be gridlocked and dysfunctional and Congress hasn’t passed any significant reforms. President Trump has been rolling back regulations rather than giving more power to bureaucrats.

If the political class worldview was correct, the economy should be tanking. But it’s not. In fact, consumer confidence is at a 13-year high, people are feeling better about their personal finances, and businesses keep generating more jobs.

This is good news for America, but not for the political class. It’s further proof that they’re not as important as they think they are. For many in official Washington, highlighting the irrelevance of their work is President Trump’s unforgivable sin.

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The Gun Control Debate is Not About Guns

Every time a horrific event like the Las Vegas massacre takes place, it is followed by a frustrating and futile debate about the merits of gun control. People on both sides of the debate trot out talking points and talk right past each other without listening.

Much of the frustration comes from the fact that everybody would like to do something to prevent such disasters from every happening again.  But, the overwhelming desire to do something is matched by the pragmatic reality that no new law, policy initiative, or government program could have prevented the gruesome events of Las Vegas. As a result, the discussion moves on to other forms of gun violence with the same sense of frustration.

The ongoing frustration stems from the fact that the debate is not really about guns. It’s about who you trust.

Those who would like to see guns strongly regulated or banned may think they are just seeking to lessen the potential harm or violence in society. But, they are also suggesting that only government officials or those authorized by the government can have a gun. For people to be comfortable with giving government a monopoly on deadly weapons requires a great deal of trust in government.

But, in 21st century America, that’s pretty hard to find. In fact, it’s been more than 45 years since a majority of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. And the distrust is growing decade-by-decade. Today only 20% trust the federal government most of the time. Only 4% “just about always” trust the feds.

It’s worth noting that the 45 years of growing distrust in the federal government has coincided with the growth of the Regulatory State. As distant and unaccountable bureaucrats have assumed more power, the disconnect between the government and the governed has grown. While the Regulatory State is designed to limit the influence of voters in government policy, most Americans believe voters should have an even greater voice.

For those who distrust the government, therefore, the notion of letting only the government have guns is absurd. From their perspective, the government already has too much power. Why would we give them more? That perspective explains why 48% of Americans believe the right to own a gun is essential for freedom. According to the Pew Center, another 33% believe such rights are important for freedom, not essential. Only 19% say that the right to own a gun is not important.

Ultimately, therefore, the gun debate is about trust. Those who defend the Second Amendment trust everyday Americans far more than they trust the government and government officials. The reverse is true for those who want to ban or strictly regulate guns.

The debate is uncomfortable for many Americans who would like to see rules and policies implemented that prevent people with mental disabilities from getting guns. It’s uncomfortable for the vast majority who would love to stop the carnage associated with gang warfare or domestic abuse. It’s uncomfortable because most Americans would like some kind of reasonable rules imposed but they don’t trust the government to be reasonable.

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That Helpless, Hopeless Feeling

Horrific, sickening, tragic, are among the words I’ve heard used to describe the news from Las Vegas. But none of them really capture the reality that such acts are utterly beyond comprehension. As I write this, official sources are still looking for a motive, but no rational motive can possibly exist. Whatever made the killer take 58 lives made sense only in some delusional world most humans can’t come close to understanding.

After the words and the images sink in, it still doesn’t seem real. But we want to know why! Who or what can we blame? What can we do to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again?

That’s when the hopelessness sets in. We want an easy answer, but there aren’t any. In fact, while it’s hard to admit, there probably aren’t any answers at all. It’s happened before and will happen again. Humans have done terrible and sickening and horrific things to others throughout recorded history.

This journey was partially described by statistician Leah Libresco in a Washington Post column. Previously, the gun control advocate had been involved with a project documenting the reality of gun deaths in the United States.

Her team found that 63% of gun deaths involved suicides. Most of these deaths involved older men. The biggest group of homicides involved young men, generally those who were involved with gang or criminal activity. On top of that, roughly 1,700 women were murdered, generally as a result of domestic abuse.

As she explored the data looking for answers, Libresco admitted “the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.” The more complex reality showed that passing new laws might make some people feel good, but it would not reduce gun violence. In the end, Libresco “found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions.” These solutions focused on the underlying causes, rather than the guns.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of an event like the Las Vegas shooting, few people engage in the sort of careful analysis that Libresco offered. Instead, most of us respond in a visceral way. We can’t make sense of what happened and we hate the fact that there’s nothing we can do to help. We want to get rid of that sickening feeling by believing that there is a silver lining to be found. Maybe, just maybe, we think, this is the time we will learn how to prevent this from ever happening again.

Like everyone else, I desperately want to find that silver lining. I never again want to wake up to hear of another Las Vegas. But, like Libresco, I know that there are no magical cures or silver linings. It breaks my heart to tell people that the data shows their pet solution won’t solve anything, but that is the reality we must face.

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There is No Proper Mix of Government, Community, and Business

I grew up in suburbia, and have spent various parts of my life in small towns, a Southern city, and in rural Indiana. Moving may be a hassle, but new experiences in new locations provide wonderful opportunities to learn and explore. That’s certainly true as I adjust to life in New York City, a vastly different environment than anything I’ve tried before.

Living in the city, my wife and I have encountered government as never before. We rely on the subway to get around, enjoy strolls through Central Park, routinely see police officers and traffic cops, and have heard about city regulations on just about everything we ask about. Many of the rules and regulations (but not all) make sense.

Because government is so visible in the city, many who live here have a hard time grasping why so many other Americans see government as, at best, a necessary evil. It’s not really a philosophical view or an ideology so much as just the practical reality of day to day life.

But, when I’ve lived in rural settings, the day to day reality was entirely different. People in such settings rarely encounter government and instead see a society guided by community organizations, churches, helpful neighbors, and informal arrangements. When there’s a problem to be solved, people get together and solve it. Government rules and regulations from a distant capital are often mocked as unrealistic and intrusive.

For people in such settings, it’s impossible to understand why some people think government should have the right to intrude on just about anything that involves day-to-day life.

In reality, both imagined experiences are incomplete. The heavy government presence in New York blinds many to just how much the vibrant informal society and business community do to make the city work. And, in rural areas, the reverse is true. While government plays a background role, all the other organizations and neighborhood activity typically obscure it.

A healthy society requires leadership from all organizations and individuals in the community. It cannot survive with an overly dominant government or without any government. It cannot survive without individuals, community organizations, and businesses working together and making their world just a little bit better. But, as should be obvious to all, the right mix of leadership depends upon the community. What works in New York City will not work in rural Indiana.

That bit of common sense wisdom is often missing from our national political dialogue. Too often we carry out national political debates as extensions of our local experience. People who live in cities often expect the government to regulate everything that moves and distrust those who advocate any other solutions. Those who live outside the cities typically see a government that already is doing too much and are equally distrustful of other views.

We can never resolve these differences at the national level. No matter how much some in DC want to believe it, one size fits all solutions can’t possibly work in a wonderfully diverse country like the United States. Instead, we should work to return decision making closer to home. Let every community create the leadership mix and government role that makes sense in their corner of the world. And, then, let people vote with their feet to decide what works best for them

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There’s More to Governing Than Government

There is a mistaken notion, deeply embedded in our national political dialogue, that society is naturally divided into public and private sectors. The public sector is thought of as the vehicle for governing society and looking out for the common good. The private sector is where people merely look out for themselves.

Not surprisingly, this view is promoted aggressively by those in the public sector. In this false view of the world, governing is the responsibility of government alone. The vast majority of Americans who work and live in the private sector are told they should study the issues, get involved in campaigns, and vote. After that, the political elites want us to get out of the way and let the so-called experts run things.

In the real world, however, every relationship and organization plays a role in governing society. Our spouses, close family members, and friends play key roles in holding us accountable. They also support us, encourage us, guide us, and lend a helping hand when needed.

Moving beyond the family circle, our commitments to employers and community groups play important roles in our lives but also in terms of governing society. They often exercise authority over us and exert a significant influence over our behavior and schedules. These relationships help us to be productive members of society.

That’s true whether the associations we form are community groups in the traditional geographic sense, online communities, or a workplace. Some groups are as informal as meeting co-workers after work for a beer on Friday afternoons or starting the morning on a power walk with friends. Others are more formal, everything from churches and charities to sports leagues, theater groups, and garden clubs. And, of course, we’re just beginning to understand how Facebook groups and other new forms of community fit into this process.

Few think of these ties as having anything to do with governance, but they are absolutely vital to the governing of society. These formal and informal associations are places where people learn about, process, and begin to act upon the news of the day. That includes everything from what the president said the night before to which companies are hiring or moving away and who is sick and needs some help to get through.

When storms hit, these are the groups that mobilize the community by spreading the word and offering a plan of action. It’s happening right now in the aftermath of Harvey and Irma. Following Hurricane Sandy, the Associated Press reported that people were far more likely to seek and receive help from family, friends and community groups rather than government efforts. Obviously, government has a role to play, but it’s just one of many organizations that help make a healthy society work. In fact, the formal government rarely has the lead role.

We need to replace the mistaken view that governing is the responsibility of government alone with a more realistic recognition that that most governing of society takes place closer to home. On a day-in and day-out basis, community organizations and relationships play a bigger role in governing our society than the rules, regulations, and policies of the formal government.

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The Freedom To Walk Away Holds Politicians Accountable

Moving to a new home is an all-American activity. Roughly one out of nine people do it every year. Many stay within the same state, but we’ll be among the nearly 5 million Americans who move across state lines to establish a new home.

Some of our friends have been puzzled by the move. One noted that we managed to pick the only place that has a higher tax burden than our current home state of New Jersey. That’s true, of course, but there are offsetting benefits in terms of career, entertainment, and lifestyle opportunities. It may not be for everyone, but for us right now New York is the greatest city in the world.

Others have wondered how we will be able to tolerate the nanny-state approach of Mayor de Blasio. I’m sure we’ll find many regulations silly and annoying, but I also know that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. Despite de Blasio’s effort to protect the taxi industry by blocking Uber and Lyft, we’ll be able to use those essential ride-sharing services. The culture leads and politicians lag behind.

This move has given me the opportunity to remind my politically obsessed friends that governing is not the responsibility of government alone. Instead, every organization and relationship has a role to play in making society work. New York is a great city because of all the dynamic relationships between individual residents, small businesses, large companies, tourists, social and charitable groups, entertainers, artists, churches, synagogues, and countless other associations. The mayor and city council have a role to play, but it’s not the lead role.

We are moving to the city knowing full well that our right to vote will not have any real impact on taxes, regulations or other government policies.

But we also know that we possess a more powerful tool to hold the city government accountable. It’s the power to walk away. It works because cities and towns are in a constant competition for residents, employers and jobs.

We are moving to New York because we believe the lifestyle mix of housing, activities, taxes, and services is appealing. That mix has been created by all of the individuals, organizations, and relationships that currently govern New York City.

If for any reason that mix changes and we no longer see value in staying, we’ll leave. We’re not obligated to stay and seek reform through the political process. We don’t have to ask permission or give any explanation for our decision. We can just move to another place whenever we want.

For us and 35 million other Americans on the move this year, our decision is a personal choice. But, collectively, our power to act as consumers highlights the reality that governing is not the responsibility of government alone. We’re thankful for all who have made New York a great city and look forward to being a part of it.

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The Deeper Currents of American Politics

Back when I was a pollster, I would explain that following the daily polls was like watching a heavy rain fall on the surface of a river. There’s a lot of action and noise and splashing around but nothing that gives you a real sense of where the river is going. For that, you must look beneath the surface where the current keeps moving steadily onward and the storm is barely noticed.

The same logic applies to the state of American politics today. It’s easy to get caught up in the sound and fury of the daily news cycle, but that tells us more about our dysfunctional political system than it does about the future of our nation. When you look a little deeper and explore the currents of American society, you quickly discover that most people are moving steadily onward with their daily lives and barely notice the political storms.

Sure, most have an opinion about Donald Trump or Barack Obama or the latest political obsession, but it’s not the driving force in their lives. Instead, they are focused on family, jobs, faith, community and doing what they can to make their world a little bit better. To the degree most think about politics at all, the vast majority start with a belief that they have the freedom to live their own life on their own terms and that everybody else has the equal right to do the same. When politics is needed at all, most Americans believe in the self-governing ideal that the people are supposed to be in charge.

These are America’s founding values and they are deeply embedded in American society and culture. It’s true, of course, that our nation has never perfectly lived up to these ideals. But the deep currents of American society have been consistently flowing in the direction of freedom, equality, and self-governance since before the nation was even founded.

And, from the very beginning, there have been political elites who rejected those ideals. At the Constitutional Convention, Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman thought the people should have “as little to do as may be about the government.” Alexander Hamilton proposed that the United States should have an elected monarch who would rule until death or impeachment and have extensive powers. Fortunately, that idea didn’t sit too well with other delegates who had just finished a war against a king with too much power.

In the early days of our nation, the biggest challenges came from slave-holders who were so outraged byour national commitment to equality that they fought a Civil War to try and leave the nation. Today, the great challenge comes from a political elite who believe that they are smarter and more fit to govern than everyday Americans.

Rather than freedom, they believe in a Regulatory State where bureaucrats write the rules for the rest of us to live by. Rather than equality, they want government officials to pick winners and losers. And, rather than self-governance, they dream of a world where bureaucrats are protected from the desires of voters.

In other words, the political elites are actively trying to divert the currents of American society away from our founding ideals. Our challenge is to make sure the river keeps flowing and wears away whatever obstacles they put in place.

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By Obsessing About Extremes, Media Loses Touch With America

The America portrayed on the evening news is unrecognizable to most Americans.

Rather than reflecting the realities of a complex and dynamic nation, the national news media seems to treat real events as little more than a Rorschach test for measuring what the political activists think is going on. Then, in solemn tones, the television presenters pass on the absurd interpretations that become a national narrative.

In TV-Newsland, America is presented as a hopelessly divided nation where hate-filled people battle over how they can get the government to give them what they want. Extremists of all political persuasions are presented as reflecting the real views of everyday Americans. It’s a scary world in which every symbolic event can be used to demonstrate that most Americans are stupid, racist, socialist or whatever other condescending view the elites wish to project.

I recognize, of course, that there’s an audience for this sort of thing. Conflict sells and that’s true whether it’s Survivor, the Bachelorette, or national politics. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment executives putting on shows that draw good ratings. But it is a great disservice to the nation to equate what happens on the nightly news to what is happening in America.

More than 90% of Americans don’t watch the evening news and experience an entirely different America. It’s an America where most people want to work hard, play hard, take care of their families, help their neighbors, and do what they can to make their corner of the world a little bit better. When someone falls on hard times, others look for ways to help out.

In this real version of America, there are 63 million community volunteers, 27 million entrepreneurs, and tens of millions of others who serve their community in different ways. Rather than begging for a dysfunctional political system to bail them out, the vast majority of Americans recognize that these community servants are the people who can actually get things done and solve the problems before us.

These Americans are more pragmatic than ideological and Instinctively committed to our founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. They are united by a belief that all of us have the right to live our lives as we see fit so long as we don’t interfere with the rights of others to do the same. Because they see it working all around them, they celebrate the fact that we create a better world by using our freedom to work together in community.

This America is not obsessed with extremists and their battles. They are also not obsessed with the petty partisan political battles than consume official Washington. Many might see those phrases as redundant, since politics in DC often seems like little more than a platform for extremists to fight their battles.

In pointing out the differences between America and the TV-Newsland version of America, I am not suggesting that the national evening news programs need to change their ways. They have found a formula that serves their niche audience and that’s what entertainment companies do. What I am suggesting, however, is that we need to look elsewhere if we want to understand what’s going on in America.

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To Move Our Nation Forward, Lift Up America’s Founding Ideals

In the decade leading up to America’s War for Independence, much of the drama took place in and around Boston. Sam Adams was the ring-leader on the colonial side and public enemy number one to the British. He had been thinking about liberty and independence since he attended Harvard decades before. He was motivated partly because what we would now call the Regulatory State targeted his family because of their political views.

Eventually, British troops were sent to occupy Boston and keep things from getting out of hand. Naturally, the occupying force was hated and the tension between colonists and Redcoats grew. Recognizing how angry the Bostonians were, Adams worked hard to keep them from erupting into an angry mob.

On March 5, 1770, that challenge became more difficult when British soldiers fired into a mob and killed five colonists. In the colonies, the event became known as the Boston Massacre and the British were clearly at fault. As is usually the case, the truth was a bit more complex. On top of the already heightened level of tension, colonists knew that the soldiers had orders not to fire. So, they taunted the young British men, threw things at them, and dared them to shoot.

Eventually a shot was fired, people died, and the facts didn’t seem to matter. There was a definite desire in Boston for revenge rather than justice. Rather than riling them up further, Sam Adams recognized the importance of ensuring a fair trial for the soldiers. He wanted the colonists to show the world that they were the civilized party in this dispute. So, Sam and others encouraged his younger cousin to defend the British.

Out of respect for the rule of law, John Adams agreed. It was not a popular move for someone thinking of a political career. It became even more unpopular when he successfully defended the soldiers arguing that “facts are stubborn things.” His law practice suffered and he lost perhaps half his clients. But, later in life, John Adams considered taking this case at this time to be one of his finest moments.

It was actions like this that developed America’s founding ideals and defined our national commitment to freedom, equality, and self-governance. The words were nice, but the actions mattered more.

Unfortunately, a commitment to our nation’s founding ideals is lacking in our political leadership today. Some on the political left are uncomfortable with giving people freedom to decide for themselves; some on the right struggle with equality. And, politicians all across the spectrum would prefer to centralize power in their own hands rather than embrace self-governance.

As a result, our political system is badly broken. In fact, it may be broken beyond repair. It has been more than 45 years since a majority of Americans trusted the federal government. Simply put, our government does not have the consent of the governed, a reality that’s not likely to change any time soon.

To move our nation forward, we need to look away from the failed political system that divides us and focus on the noble values that unite us. It’s time to celebrate the core values of freedom, equality, and self-governance with more than words. Like Sam and John Adams, we must stand up for them even when it hurts.

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White Supremacists, America Was Never Yours

The White Supremacists who marched in Charlottesville seemed to think that their movement is committed to taking America back. They are mistaken. They cannot take America back because it was never theirs in the first place.

It’s true that the legacies of slavery and centuries of legalized racism have long tarnished our nation’s history. That reality has always stood in conflict with our nation’s founding ideals of freedom, equality, and self-governance. For too many years, white Americans simply ignored the contradiction that they didn’t want to see.

That failure to confront evil did allow racists and White Supremacists to continue their hateful traditions in America. But, from the very beginning, it has been our noble ideals that defined the nation and its aspirations. Both yesterday and today, being an American means believing that all of us are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The real shame, perhaps our greatest national shame, is that so many who believed in those high ideals never did anything about the grossly unfair and unequal treatment of African-Americans. Martin Luther King, Jr. called out such so-called “moderates” in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” How can you claim to believe in freedom and equality without standing up for those who are denied such basic rights?

Long before that, Frederick Douglas correctly noted that tolerating slavery while celebrating the Declaration of Independence made the celebration a “sham” filled with “fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy.”

Tragically, many who believed the best about America turned a blind eye to this problem. On the other hand, those who advocated white supremacy never lost sight of the fact that their abhorrent views were threatened by America’s noble traditions. John Calhoun, a leading defender of slavery, was frustrated that admiration for the Declaration had “spread far and wide, and fixed itself deeply in the public mind.”

Calhoun rejected the ideal of equality and believed that black people did not deserve freedom. Such despicable views made Calhoun a traitor to America’s founding ideals just as surely as Benedict Arnold was a traitor to the young nation in the War of Independence. The treasonous behavior continued when southern states explicitly rejected America’s founding ideals and chose to fight a Civil War in defense of slavery.

Make no mistake about it, those who march under a banner of racism and white supremacy today are also traitors who reject America’s founding ideals. They are not taking America back, they are trying to undo everything that makes America great.

Those of us who believe in freedom, equality, and self-governance must not be silent.

In Politics Has Failed: America Will Not, I argue that it is well past time for the shameful strand of our history to die so that the noble strand can flourish. We must not only clearly denounce and reject the hateful voices that reject our founding ideals, we must also work together to create an inclusive society worthy of those ideals. We must accept nothing less than a free and self-governing society where, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

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Regionalization of Democratic Party Benefits GOP in Midterm Elections

The Democratic Party has, for the moment, become a regional party.

Only 449 counties across the nation are reliably Democratic. Five times that many—2,226—are reliably Republican. The Democratic counties are generally found along the coasts and in large urban areas.

Nowhere is the party’s abandonment of rural America more apparent than in West Virginia. For most of the twentieth century, this was a solidly Democratic state. In the first presidential election of the 21st century, however, George W. Bush carried the state and it’s voted Republican at the presidential level ever since. Last year, Donald Trump won the state with a crushing 42 percentage point victory over Hillary Clinton (68% to 26%).

Still, at the state level, West Virginia remained a Democratic stronghold until 2014. In that year, the Mountain State gave Republicans control of the state legislature and elected a Republican U.S. Senator for the first time in more than half a century. Last week, Democratic Governor Jim Justice switched parties to join the GOP.

These trends help explain why the midterm election outlook is fairly bleak for Democrats. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin is up for re-election as a Democrat. There’s no doubt voters in the state like Manchin, but there’s also no doubt they don’t like the crowd he hangs out with in Washington. As a result, Manchin is currently considered only a very slight favorite for reelection. Still, it’s far from certain.

Beyond West Virginia, the regionalization of the Democratic Party means that eight Democratic Senators are vulnerable because they are running for reelection in unfriendly territory. Three probably have a 50/50 chance to be reelected: Joe Donnelly in Indiana; Claire McCaskill in Missouri; and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. Manchin and four others are just narrow favorites: Jon Tester in Montana, Bill Nelson in Florida, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin; and, Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

On the other side of the coin, just two Republican Senators are considered potentially vulnerable: Dean Heller in Nevada and Jeff Flake in Arizona. Both have angered the Trump wing of the GOP and will face primary challenges before getting the chance to compete in a general election.

Put it all together and the regionalization of the Democratic Party limits the party’s upside potential in 2018.

On a good night for the Democrats, they would pick up the GOP seats in Arizona and Nevada while not losing any of their own seats. But, even in that scenario, the result would be a 50-50 split in the Senate. With Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote as Vice President, Republicans would still be charge.

In contrast, on a good night for Republicans, they might hold on to their two seats and pick up the three toss-ups in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. That would give them a 55-45 majority in the Senate and a greater ability to advance their agenda. It’s even possible to envision the GOP having a better night if they can pick up some of the seats where Democratic incumbents are only slight favorites.

It’s impossible, of course, to know which way the political winds will be blowing on Election Day in 2018. However, it seems clear that the shrinking of the Democratic Party to a regional base will keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate.

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Will Trump’s Low Approval Ratings Doom GOP in 2018?

In normal political times, a president with a 40% Job Approval rating would be a tremendous drag on his party in the midterm elections. But these are not normal times. A look back at what happened on Election Day last November suggests that President Trump’s low ratings will not necessarily doom his party in 2018.

To begin with, just 38% of voters had a favorable opinion of Donald Trump on the day he was elected. And, only 40% said they would be optimistic if he won the presidency. Yet, despite that distinct lack of enthusiasm, 46% of all voters cast their ballot to elect Donald Trump.

One big factor is that his opponent was also viewed with apprehension. In fact, a majority of voters said they would be either concerned or scared if Hillary Clinton became president. Overall, nearly one out of five voters disliked both major party candidates. When it came time to choose between the lesser of two evils, these voters overwhelmingly preferred Trump.

Looking ahead to 2018, it is quite possible that many voters unhappy with President Trump will still consider the Democrats an even bigger concern.

And, it’s also possible that many political junkies are overestimating the importance of behavior they view as unpresidential. On the day he was elected president, just 38% of voters believed Donald Trump was qualified to be president and only 35% believed he had the right temperament for the job. But 10% of all voters considered Trump unqualified yet voted for him anyway. So did 12% who voted for the current president despite believing he didn’t have the temperament for the job.

It seems that voters were looking for something bigger than what the political elites believe are appropriate characteristics for a president.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters said the most important characteristic was a candidate’s ability to bring about change. That’s not surprising given that 69% were either dissatisfied or angry with the federal government. Donald Trump won these voters overwhelmingly. The last thing they want to see is business as usual.

With all this as background for the president’s first six months in office, it seems reasonable to conclude that President Trump has met expectations. Sure, he’s unpresidential at times but most voters expected him to be. For many, though, that’s a small price to pay for adding Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Obviously, I have no idea what will happen between now and November 2018. If the president can somehow get the Republicans in Congress to repeal a significant portion of Obamacare, the GOP prospects might improve. If the economy keeps gaining steam, that’s even better news for the president’s party. Things could just as easily head in the opposite direction.

But these are not ordinary political times and Donald Trump is not an ordinary president. It would therefore be a mistake to assume that the midterm election results might be impacted in an ordinary way by the president’s job approval rating. There are far too many voters who disapprove of the president but disapprove of Democrats more.

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Remembering Apollo 1

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong famously took “one small step for a man” and “one giant leap for mankind.” He and Buzz Aldrin stepped into the history books that day as the living embodiment of an amazing technological achievement. We’ll hear a lot more about that trip in the coming years as we approach the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

The story will be told of the U.S. responding to the Sputnik satellite and the fear that gripped many when Yuri Gagaran became the first human to orbit the earth. Our nation caught up when John Glenn took three trips around the earth in Freedom 7. After that, stunning breakthroughs became routine until the Apollo 11 mission finally put two men on the moon.

As the narrative unfolds, however, we’re not likely to hear much about Apollo 1. And, it’s a story that should be told as a reminder that great accomplishments come with great risks and a high cost.

On January 27, 1967, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee climbed into the Command Module for a launch rehearsal. Grissom was one of the original seven Mercury astronauts and had been into space on a pair of earlier missions. White had become the first American to walk in space on the Gemini 4 mission in 1965. Chaffee was looking forward to his first flight after years of training.

Tragically, a fire broke out in the Command Module on that day and there was no way to release the hatch from the inside. The three men suffered a horrific death and images of the charred Command Module shook the nation. All three men left behind a wife and young children.

Viewed from the perspective of the 21st century, perhaps the most amazing thing about the story is how quickly the space agency regrouped and put men into orbit again. In today’s world, politicians and bureaucrats might have shut the program down completely.

Back then, there were Congressional hearings, but unmanned test flights continued. It took just 20 months before Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham flew a redesigned Command Module into space on Apollo 7. The courage displayed by those three men was an essential part of the successful race to the moon. Throughout the flight, there was tension between the crew and ground controllers, perhaps a natural result of knowing what had happened to their friends and colleagues on Apollo 1.

After that, events moved quickly. In December 1968 Apollo 8 orbited the moon. In March, Apollo 9 flew the Lunar Module for the first time. Apollo 10 flew to within just a few miles of the lunar surface in May of 1969 and Apollo 11 made history in July.

Today, private companies are leading the return to space. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is spending a billion dollars a year to fund Blue Origin with hopes of building a colony on the lunar surface. His dreams of conquering space were inspired by watching Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. For all of us who remember, it was a magical moment.

But we should never forget the price paid by Grissom, White, Chaffee, and their families to create that magic. They made it possible for Armstrong and Aldrin to step into history.

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The Netflix Revolution

While the nation’s political elites obsess over daily controversies of official Washington, a far more significant development is taking place on television screens across America. After years of steady growth, the number of subscribers to streaming video services like Netflix has topped the number of cable subscribers.

ComScore reports that 51 million households now receive their television programming through what the industry calls Over-The-Top (OTT) television. They watch an average of 49 hours of streaming content per month. About a third of these households have dropped cable and satellite programming completely. Looking ahead, the streaming services are expected to continue growing rapidly while the cable and satellite numbers decline.

Netflix is the biggest driver of this transition. Fully 74% of households that stream video watch Netflix. The content giant accounts for 40% of all OTT viewing and nobody else is even close.
Those who mistakenly believe that change is led by political decisions made in Washington are likely to dismiss this as little more than a curiosity. Who cares whether people watch “Stranger Things” or “The 100” on Netflix instead of watching some other show on a cable network? In reality, though, the way that people consume entertainment and information has massive political implications.

In the 1970s, 94% of Americans watched one of only three national television networks. When the President of the United States gave an Oval Office address, all other programming was either cancelled or delayed. If you turned on the TV, you had to watch the president. In such a world, presidential speeches earned massive ratings (over half the country tuned in). But as soon as cable networks like ESPN, HBO, and others gave people a choice, ratings for presidential speeches declined dramatically. Today, when the president gives a speech, only the president’s base supporters and political junkies are likely to tune in. New entertainment options made the president’s bully pulpit far less powerful.

The ultimate political implications of the Netflix Revolution could be even more significant. While cable offered more choices, the timing of when to watch any given show was still controlled by network executives. Millions of people still watched the same show at the same time.

In contrast, OTT viewing schedules are entirely in consumer hands and everybody’s schedule is different. People watch what they want, when they want, and on whatever device they have handy. Among other things, this has created the phenomenon known as binge watching. Many fans watch entire seasons of their favorite show in one sitting. Some observers believe that releasing full seasons at one time has already created a compelling new form of storytelling. Whether that’s true or not, the ComScore report does show that it has increased weekend viewing time among those who use streaming services.

Not everyone, of course, enjoys binge watching. But, it’s great that each of us can decide such things for ourselves. It’s exciting to see broad cultural trends empowering everyday Americans at the expense of traditional institutions and gatekeepers. It’s especially thrilling when you realize that we live in a land where the culture leads and politicians lag behind. Sooner or later, the political system will catch up.

I can’t wait!

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It’s Not About Trump, It’s About His Voters

In Election 2016, Democrats seemed to assume that the unpopularity of Donald Trump would be enough to keep him out of the White House. It’s true that most Americans viewed him unfavorably, but the same was also true of Hillary Clinton. Given such an unappealing choice, millions of voters decided that Trump was the lesser of two evils.

In a series of 2017 special elections, Democrats have continued to make the same mistake. They look at the president’s low Job Approval ratings and assume that simply opposing President Trump should be sufficient to win elections. That was the theory behind Tuesday’s special election in Georgia where Democrats from around the nation financed the most expensive Congressional campaign in history but still came up empty.

Blinded by rage at the president, many Democrats are struggling to come to grips with how this could happen. Convinced that the continuous headlines about Russia and special prosecutors and James Comey have made impeachment a real possibility, they failed to notice that the president’s Job Approval rating has been steady for three full months.

Perhaps the most succinct rationale was provided by Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio: “Our brand is worse than Trump.” In other words, the president may be unpopular, but many voters in the middle still consider his team the lesser of two evils.

Data from earlier this year backs him up. Simmons Research found that 17% of voters are unhappy that Trump is president but happy Clinton isn’t. At the time Simmons did their research, 52 percent of voters were either happy that Trump was president or at least happy that he kept Clinton out of the Oval Office. Those data points were collected a little more than a month into the Trump administration, between February 27 and March 5. At that time, the president’s approval was only 44 percent, so there was an 8-point gap between the job approval and the combined support for Trump’s victory.

There is no data measuring that gap today. However, it may be even bigger today than it was a few months ago. The president’s declining job approval rating may have been offset by an increase in the number who still consider him the lesser of two evils. If so, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that a narrow majority of voters remain pleased that Clinton is not serving as president.

Tuesday’s results from Georgia indicate some support for that theory. The final results were very similar to the president’s showing in the district last fall. Anecdotal evidence also comes from the fact that many Republicans and conservatives complain about the president while also expressing relief that he added Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For Democrats, therefore, being opposed to Trump is not enough. They must convince some of reluctant Trump supporters that things have changed enough for the Democrats to be considered the lesser of two evils. That will require paying less attention to the president and more attention to the legitimate concerns of those who voted for him.

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Ending the Federal Monopoly on Regulation

Such hypocrisy is, of course, bi-partisan. Republicans who lauded state resistance to Obamacare are deeply troubled by state and local resistance to the Trump Administration on immigration and other issues.

The blatant hypocrisy is one of many factors contributing to a toxic political dialogue. The only way to reduce both the hypocrisy and the political tension is to do something that neither party wants to do when their team is in charge—disperse power more broadly.

No matter how much the political class wishes it were true, one-size fits all solutions simply can’t work in a wonderfully diverse society like the United States. Rules that make sense for life in Washington, DC or New York City are often absurd in Michigan or Colorado. To catch up with the reality of a decentralized pluralistic society, it is time to decentralize political power and shift ever more decision-making authority to state and local governments.

Unfortunately, America’s political class has spent the last several decades going in exactly the wrong direction by centralizing power in a Regulatory State. Based upon the flawed premise that leaders in official Washington know what’s best for the rest of us, they have worked to insulate the bureaucracy from any accountability to Congress and the American people. Such a regime is a fundamental rejection of our nation’s historic commitment to freedom, self-governance, and equality.

While twenty-first century life does need a set of rules and regulations, the power to set them should be taken away from 285,000 distant bureaucrats and brought closer to home. Congress can put the American people back in charge by passing a simple modification to the federal rulemaking process.

Just about all federal regulations should be set to automatically expire after five years (allowing for a handful of exceptions like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission). As the regulations expire, they would instantly become state regulations. Each state would then have the responsibility for enforcing the regulations within their borders.

Just as important, each state would have the authority to modify the regulations to fit their particular circumstances. California and New York might make different modifications than Idaho and Texas, but that’s a good thing because the states are so different.

The advantage to this approach is not that state regulators are wiser or more honorable than federal regulators. With the past 24 hours, I’ve had a run-in with some particularly idiotic regulations in my home state of New Jersey. But, when the rules are established on a state-by-state basis, the people hold the ultimate decision-making power.

That’s because we have more power as consumers than we do as voters. While we rarely think of it, states are always competing for residents and businesses. The average American moves 12 times during their life and nearly half live in a different state from where they were born. Bad policies hurt a state’s ability to compete and that reality places serious limits on state regulators.

To move America forward, we must end the arbitrary power of the Regulatory State. It’s time to return power to the people.

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Two Ways of Looking At America

There are two ways of looking at America.

One approach offers hope for a bright future, focuses on common ground shared by most Americans, and is grounded in pragmatism and reality. The other offers a depressing outlook, encourages polarization, and is grounded in ideology and fantasy.

The positive approach is built upon America’s founding ideals of freedom, self-governance, and equality. At its core is a belief that the people are in charge and that the culture leads society. It acknowledges a role for government, but not the lead role. It recognizes that change begins outside the political process when people use their freedom to work together in community.

The negative approach is built upon the self-serving view of America’s political class that every problem must have a political solution. In this worldview, it is the government and elected politicians who determine the fate of the nation. Conservatives and liberals in the political class have different views about which policies are best, but they agree that elites are responsible for making the rules for the rest of us to live by.

President Theodore Roosevelt long ago expressed the underlying view of the political class by complaining that we need to talk less about the rights of individuals and more about their duty to government.

But, no matter how much the political class wishes it were so, this view of politics and government leading the nation has no basis in reality. As I note in my new book, Politics Has Failed: America Will Not, the culture always leads and politicians always lag behind. To take just one recent example, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had a bigger impact on the nation than the combined legacies of all eight men who have been president since Apple and Microsoft were founded.

Looking ahead, while the ideological wars rage over how to reform health care, the real change will come from new technologies that give patients more control over their own health and health care choices. Pragmatic community problem solving will build upon these new tools and disrupt the health care industry in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. The politicians will then try to catch up.

These contrasting views of America lead to fundamental differences of opinion about the way government should work and the role it should play.

Those who believe in top-down rule by the political elite are frustrated with America’s constitutional system of checks and balances. They want a more energetic government that can quickly implement changes to fix whatever they believe is wrong with American society. Unfortunately, government has been moving in this direction for decades. Proponents of this view have created a Regulatory State by turning more power over to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington.

The Regulatory State is the death star of the political class. It is meant to bring order to the nation and is built on the mistaken ideological belief that a one-size fits all approach can work in the iPad era.

Fortunately, as our dysfunctional political system continues to break down, change is coming. No matter how powerful it may seem, the Regulatory State is no match for America’s founding ideals. Things will probably get worse before they get better, but freedom, self-governance, and equality will lead us to a brighter future.

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Pessimistic About Politics, Optimistic About America

It’s not fashionable to say these days, but I am very optimistic about America’s future. I believe that our nation’s best days are still to come and that our children and grandchildren will have much better lives than we have enjoyed.

I am optimistic despite believing that our nation’s political system is badly broken.

My personal journey from pessimism about politics to optimism about America took more than a decade. Figuring out how to explain it took an additional two years of writing and the end result is my new book, Politics Has Failed: America Will Not. Fox News analyst Juan Williams describes it as “a roadmap to genuine optimism.” He adds that the book is a “gripping, history-based account… on how change really happens before the politicians run to the front of the parade.”

The key is recognizing that politics and politicians don’t lead the nation. That’s not their job and it’s not the way America is supposed to work. We live in a land where the culture leads and politicians lag behind. For those who are skeptical of this concept, consider the reality that two men who dropped out of college in the 1970s have had a bigger impact on the world we live in than the combined legacy of all eight presidents since that time. Their names were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

The fact that the culture leads is good news because we are rapidly approaching a time when our political system will completely break down and need to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

Building on that premise, my book is offered as a message of hope to counter the nation’s dysfunctional and toxic political dialogue. Instead of obsessing over the failures of politicians, it’s time to rethink the relationship between politics and community. Brookings Institute scholar Jonathan Rauch calls the book “a spirited and timely reminder that civic groups, innovative businesses, and personal networks are where the real action will be in the 21st century – and that their potential to improve our lives and our country is vast.”

In America, governing is not the responsibility of government alone. Every institution and relationship in society has a role to play. My expectation of a bright future includes a massive campaign of community problem solving and a culture that remains committed to freedom, equality, and self-governance.

America is at its best when people use their freedom to work together in community. The tools of the digital revolution are giving us new and exciting ways of working together that will enable future generations to see and do many wondrous things beyond our current ability to imagine. Most important of all, however, they will help our nation draw ever closer to becoming a land filled with opportunity, liberty, and justice for all.

Mark McKinnon, a man who helped guide five successful presidential campaigns, calls the book “some of the freshest most inspiring thinking I’ve read in years… There is a light in the tunnel, and Rasmussen has found it.”

Community problem solving, fueled by the digital revolution, is poised to overcome our failed system of politics and government. We may not be able to make government work better, but that won’t stop us from making society work better.

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Lessons In Democracy Learned By Juror Number 2

Like most Americans, I groaned when the mail included a summons to jury duty. Having been there before, I envisioned three days of wasted time in a bland room with lousy internet service. Instead, I served on a jury and came away with a renewed confidence in America’s tradition of self-governance.

My service as Juror Number 2 took place in Freehold, New Jersey near a Battle of Monmouth monument. At first, I inwardly chuckled when the judge cited the history of the place to convince us of the importance of the jury system. Being a history buff, I knew the battle wasn’t as consequential as she tried to make it sound. But, I appreciated the effort to explain that the right to trial by a jury of our peers was as important as our rights to freedom of speech and religion.

As the process unfolded, I began to recognize that jury trials are in many ways a healthier expression of American democracy than our system of politics and elections.

The process of jury selection, for example, emphasized the rights of the parties to receive a fair hearing. Many prospective jurors were dropped from the trial based upon answers to 22 questions about potential conflicts and other matters. Then, those still in the pool answered questions about personal interests and relationships. Both attorneys rejected some jurors based upon those answers. No explanation was required. They were just exercising rights designed to insure an impartial jury for their clients.

This was an important reminder that we all have certain rights that cannot be taken away by our government or anyone else. Too many Americans forget this and talk as if the majority can do whatever it wants. But that’s not the way it works in a free and self-governing society.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came when everybody in the courtroom rose when we entered or left the room. The judge explained that the honor was bestowed because we were the decision makers. In effect, it was a recognition of our sovereign status in that setting. Can you imagine how much different it would be if elected officials had to stand when their constituents entered the room? Can you think of any way in which national politicians seriously acknowledge that the
people are supposed to be the ultimate decision makers in America today?

Perhaps the most important lesson of all, however, came when we were summoned for the final time as a jury. Informing us that a settlement had been reached, the judge went out of her way to explain that our time and service had been essential to the outcome. She specifically said no settlement would have been possible if this had been an administrative trial.

That, it seems to me, is the proper model for political engagement in a self-governing society.

As a jury, we were the sovereign power in that courtroom. But, we had no power at all once the parties worked things out for themselves. Knowing we were there, and wondering what we might decide, certainly had an impact on the settlement discussions. But the decision was not ours to make.

A healthy political system would encourage everyone to find solutions by working together in community. When we do that, there’s no reason for the politicians to get involved.

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Thank You Jackie Robinson

Seventy years ago this Saturday, Jackie Robinson made history by breaking the Major League color barrier. MVP awards, All-Star selections, and championships recognized his skills as a player. His very presence dramatically changed the world of baseball. Within a few months, other teams began adding black ballplayers. Over the following 12 seasons, eight of the National League MVP awards were won by black men.

Facing enormous hostility from fans and other teams, Robinson and his wife consistently demonstrated the power of nonviolent resistance years before the world ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr.

Major League Baseball appropriately honored his larger legacy by retiring his number so that nobody else on any team will ever wear number 42 again. The sole exception is on April 15 each year, Jackie Robinson Day. On that day, every player, coach, and manager on every team wears number 42 in celebration of Robinsons’ life. No other player has ever received such an honor.

It’s important to recognize that the courage and class Robinson displayed in the face of hatred and vicious personal attacks changed far more than baseball. When he first took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the spring of 1947, his presence sent shockwaves throughout all of society and forced others to adapt. It generated untold millions of conversations among baseball fans who carried those discussions into other areas of life.

PBS later noted that it “was a major blow to segregation everywhere.” It wasn’t until one year after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers that President Harry Truman integrated the U.S. military. As always, the culture leads and politicians lag behind.

Dealing with Robinson as a member of the Dodgers led to the integration of many hotels and restaurants where the team stayed. Other organizations changed as well. The Sporting News, a paper that opposed integration of baseball, ended up naming Robinson its Rookie of the Year in 1947.

One clear impact of the cultural shift Robinson represented involved Rosa Parks.

Four years earlier, in 1943, Parks had been ejected from a segregated bus in Montgomery because she refused to give up her seat to a white man. At the time, the event attracted little notice. But, nearly nine years after Robinson’s first Major League at-bat, things had changed. When the heroic Parks again refused to give up her seat, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. That event lead to the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr. as a leader who applied the lessons of nonviolent resistance on an even broader scale.

Acknowledging the debt his movement owed to the ballplayer, King called Robinson “a pilgrim that walked in the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.” Robinson, of course, was not the sole reason for the cultural changes that took place. But it is almost impossible to overestimate the significance of his contributions.

Jackie Robinson’s story, like so many other American stories, highlights the reality that the culture leads and politicians lag behind. It took 17 years before Congress caught up to the Brooklyn Dodgers and passed major civil rights legislation. In fact, by the time Congress got around to acting, the Dodgers weren’t even in Brooklyn anymore.

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Free Local Communities to Set Their Own Minimum Wage

Last week, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill preventing local governments from raising the minimum wage above the statewide level of $7.25 per hour. The bill was a response to four counties passing local laws boosting the minimum to $10.10 per hour or higher. Ballotpedia.org reports that similar battles between state and local authorities to set wage and employment guidelines have taken place around the country.

Rather than blocking local governments from setting their own minimum wage standards, state governments should encourage them to do so.

At the most basic level, that’s a recognition that no two communities are identical. Of the four Iowa counties that passed higher minimum wage laws, two are home to the state’s biggest cities– Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. It’s not unreasonable to think that the cost of living in any city is a bit higher than in other rural areas of the state. A third county setting higher minimums is also among the state’s largest and is home to the University of Iowa. That might suggest a higher cost of living and also a more liberal political culture.

But the real reason that local governments should be allowed to establish a higher minimum wage is that it shifts decision making power away from politicians and puts it in the hands of Iowa residents.

As I note in my forthcoming book, Politics Has Failed: America Will Not, Americans have more power when we act as consumers rather than voters. We have the ability to hold local government accountable because we can decide where to live.

Like a small business, local communities compete to attract residents and jobs. In effect, they are selling a mix of lifestyle benefits including housing, amenities, services, and more. The price consumers pay is determined by housing costs, taxes, regulations, and other factors.

Seen in this light, the wisdom of raising the minimum wage in a particular county will be determined by the decisions of residents and local businesses. Maybe the higher minimum will attract more people or maybe it will drive away businesses and jobs. It’s even possible that the higher minimum wage will have no discernable impact. After all, it’s just one small part of the overall lifestyle mix offered by local communities.

Letting local governments set their own rules empowers people to vote with their feet. It works because local officials are competing in a very active market. The average American moves about 12 times in their lifetime and nearly 13 million move to a new county every year.

And that brings us to the fourth county that passed a higher minimum wage, Wapello County. It’s home to Ottumwa, perhaps best known as the home town of Radar O’Reilly in the hit TV show MASH. On the surface, there’s no clear reason for Ottumwa to have a higher minimum wage than other less populated areas of the state. But maybe the good people of Ottumwa know something we don’t know. Or perhaps they just made a mistake. Either way, the choice should be theirs to make.

If it works, life in Ottumwa will get better. If not, either the new law will be repealed or people will move away. Most important of all, the decision will be in the hands of the people rather than the politicians.

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In 2016, Clinton Democrats Rejected Clinton

Last week, I suggested that the 206 Pivot Counties that voted twice for Barack Obama and then voted for Donald Trump are a good place to study the changing political landscape. Data developed by Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics, shows that these counties consistently voted more Democratic than the nation at large from 1996 to 2012.

For example, in 2012, when President Obama won the national popular vote by four percentage points, he won the Pivot County popular vote by eight percentage points. In 2004, when President Bush won the national popular vote by three percentage points, John Kerry won the Pivot County vote by a single point.

On average during those five elections, the Pivot County vote was four percentage points more Democratic than the nation at large.

They weren’t always Democratic counties, however. The results in recent elections represent a significant shift from earlier results. In fact, during the six elections from 1968 to 1992, the Pivot Counties came close to perfectly mirroring the national vote. On average during that stretch, the Pivot County vote was just half a percentage point off the national totals. Three times it leaned a bit in the Democratic direction and three times towards the GOP.

The transition between the era when Pivot Counties mirrored the national mood and then became more supportive of Democrats took place with the election and re-election of President Clinton. Those years also included the most significant third party candidacy of the past century. In 1992, Ross Perot received more than 20 million votes nationally, roughly 20% of the total. In 1996, his support fell, but he still picked up 10% of the vote.

In both of those years, support for Perot in the Pivot Counties was higher than in the nation at large. It is obviously possible that there is a strong connection between support for Perot and President Trump. In both cases, the candidate represented a rejection of politics as usual and the political class.

But, it’s what happened in the Pivot Counties when Perot’s vote faded that is especially interesting. The former Perot voters became Clinton Democrats. Virtually all the decline in support for Perot in 1996 went to President Clinton. In 1992, the GOP candidate (George H. W. Bush) won 36% of the Pivot County vote while the 1996 candidate (Bob Dole) won just 37%. However, Clinton’s support in those counties jumped from 41% in 1992 to 51% in 1996.

What this suggests is that President Bill Clinton won over the Pivot Counties for the Democratic Party. He built a base of Clinton Democrats by stressing a more centrist approach than the Democratic candidates of the 1980s. Even when George W. Bush was elected twice, most voters in these counties stayed with the Democratic nominee.

But that preference for Democrats came to a dramatic end in 2016. President Trump won the Pivot Counties by an eight-point margin, 51% to 43%. Ironically, the counties that Bill Clinton won over for the Democrats rejected the party that nominated Hillary Clinton for president.