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Westlake Legal Group > Polls and Public Opinion

Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Are Steady, but Are They Immovable?

Westlake Legal Group 17pollwatch-facebookJumbo Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Are Steady, but Are They Immovable? Trump, Donald J Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Welcome to Poll Watch, our weekly look at polling data and survey research on the candidates, voters and issues that will shape the 2020 election.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign has been defined by what it’s not as much as by what it is. He hasn’t made waves with big-ticket policy proposals, and he has mostly avoided skirmishing with his Democratic rivals.

And so, nine months into his campaign, Mr. Biden is in a remarkably similar position to where he was when he began: He’s the presumptive front-runner, despite a lack of agenda-setting plans or breathless enthusiasm from supporters.

Poll results can help us understand why. For one thing, Democratic voters appear to want a candidate who they think has a good chance of beating President Trump more than one whose policy views sync up perfectly with their own.

In a Monmouth University poll last month, this question was put to likely Democratic primary voters nationwide: Would you prefer a strong nominee who could defeat Mr. Trump, even if you disagree with that candidate on most issues — or a candidate with whom you see eye to eye, but who would have difficulty overcoming the president?

Almost twice as many respondents chose the candidate with a better chance of winning.

Polls suggest that Mr. Biden’s support is built largely on these very voters, who are seeking an experienced leader to reverse the Trump administration’s policies.

In a CNN poll last month, 40 percent of likely Democratic voters who responded said they thought Mr. Biden would be the strongest candidate against Mr. Trump. Only 16 percent pointed to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Biden’s closest rival.

Democrats across demographics tend to agree that beating Mr. Trump is the main priority. As a result, Mr. Biden has built a remarkably broad coalition of voters, with support cutting across race, gender and educational background.

But a degree of insecurity still lingers. The former vice president has faced strikingly few challenges from his rivals or from debate moderators in recent months — a boon to his candidacy that could evaporate if his opponents’ tactics change.

“A core part of his support has never been driven by enthusiasm for him — it’s driven by a sense that he’s the safe choice,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“Unlike Sanders, whose core support is very much gung-ho for him and knows what they signed up for, Biden’s supporters are looking for the strongest candidate,” Mr. Murray added. “He has so far survived that examination, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change over the next few weeks.”

Indeed, Mr. Biden’s support dipped for weeks in the fall amid a surge from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was seen as possibly more capable of uniting the moderate and left wings of the Democratic Party. But her polling numbers began to waver after her support for “Medicare for all” drew criticism, and much of Mr. Biden’s support appeared to stabilize.

Democratic voters have grown more liberal over the past two decades, but moderates now feel more alienated from an increasingly ideological Republican Party than they did a generation ago. As a result, moderate voters still tend to lean Democratic, and they make up a big enough share of the party to play a decisive role in choosing its nominee.

“You have a lot of Democrats who are not beholden to an ideological position but feel comfortable with him,” Mr. Murray said of Mr. Biden. “They’re coming from all walks of life.”

About as many women support Mr. Biden as do men, and he is the most popular candidate among black Democratic voters — a key constituency, particularly in the primaries. (Mr. Sanders has encroached on that lead, however, and now trails by less than 10 points among African-American voters and other nonwhite voters, according to some national polls.)

Just as crucially, Mr. Biden’s numbers are as strong among white voters without college degrees as they are among those with a higher education. That puts him at a distinct advantage over Ms. Warren and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., two of his strongest opponents.

And while Mr. Biden’s supporters tend to be slightly more moderate than other candidates’ backers, they are generally paying attention to the same issues. They are most likely to list health care as their main policy concern, with climate change second, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week. Those results are consistent with the party’s voters at large.

Mr. Biden has also benefited from the fact that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to be looking for a leader with solid political experience, according to a multilevel analysis of voter preferences published this month by Monmouth. Mr. Biden, who was first elected to the Senate 48 years ago, is by far the most popular candidate among Democrats who prioritize experience in a nominee: Forty-four percent of such voters back him, the Monmouth analysis found.

Finding an experienced leader matters particularly to voters of color, especially women of color, the study found.

Mr. Biden’s one major vulnerability is among young people. Polls of Iowa, New Hampshire and the nation at large consistently find him polling below 20 percent among voters under 50.

And if he does not rack up decisive victories in the earliest-voting states over the coming two months, he could be vulnerable to the growing challenge of Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, who entered the race in late November and is not competing in the earliest states.

Polls show that Mr. Bloomberg is strongest among older voters, black people and moderate or conservative Democrats — all crucial elements of Mr. Biden’s coalition.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

How the Public Feels About Trump’s Iran Strategy

Westlake Legal Group 10pollwatch-sub-facebookJumbo How the Public Feels About Trump’s Iran Strategy United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Targeted Killings Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Obama, Barack Iran Defense and Military Forces Biden, Joseph R Jr

Welcome to Poll Watch, our weekly look at polling data and survey research on the candidates, voters and issues that will shape the 2020 election.

As a presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump pledged that he would maintain the United States’ leverage abroad by committing to an approach of “unpredictability.”

As president, he has been nothing if not unpredictable.

Never was this more clear than last week, when Mr. Trump ordered the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the powerful Iranian commander and one of that country’s most important figures. The move left even many of the president’s own advisers stunned, escalated tensions between the two countries and seemed to raise the possibility of outright war — though a broader conflict appears to have been averted for the time being.

No major polls on the topic have been conducted since General Suleimani’s killing, but a look at the public opinion data that’s available suggests that Americans are eager to avoid further conflict in the Middle East. And even before the most recent confrontation, Mr. Trump’s appreciation for entropy had done little to reassure them.

A University of Maryland poll in September found that, by a 35-point margin, Americans thought the odds of the United States going to war with Iran had gone up in the three years since Mr. Trump’s election. Americans across party lines did not think a war with Iran would be warranted, according to the poll.

In a Gallup poll last summer, 65 percent of Americans said they were concerned that the United States might be too hasty in using military force to confront Iran. By a gaping 60-point margin, respondents were more likely to say they would prefer the United States take a diplomatic approach to discouraging Iranian nuclearization, rather than a military one.

“The public is and has long said that diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace,” Jocelyn Kiley, an analyst at Pew Research Center, said in an interview. “That really hasn’t fundamentally changed over the past 25 years or so.” In a September Pew survey, close to three quarters of Americans said diplomacy is generally a surer way to guarantee peace than displaying military strength.

While he has expressed support for extricating American troops from the Middle East — vowing to stop endless wars — Mr. Trump has made it clear that he prefers to use military might, rather than cooperation with traditional allies, to gain the upper hand. “By removing Suleimani,” he declared in a speech at the White House on Wednesday, “we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.”

In those remarks, Mr. Trump urged America’s allies to step away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal that former President Barack Obama brokered in 2015 to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. Mr. Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018, although it was broadly popular: A CNN poll then found that 63 percent of Americans said the United States should stick with the pact, while just 29 percent wanted to abandon it — results that align with the public’s overall preference for diplomacy.

The president’s own party was the outlier: A slim majority of Republicans wanted to quit the deal — which is closely associated with Mr. Obama’s legacy.

All of the leading Democratic presidential candidates have said they would seek to restore it.

Whatever their feelings on diplomacy, most Americans share a generalized anxiety about Mr. Trump’s approach to steering the country. A Pew poll this summer found that 56 percent of respondents were skeptical about his ability to handle the situation with Iran, and roughly the same amount said they were not confident in his overall ability to use military force wisely.

The public’s aversion to a possible war with Iran cannot be separated from the country’s growing fatigue over the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Roughly three in five respondents to a Pew poll last spring said that the wars in both of those countries had not been worth fighting.

“When it comes to the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we saw majority support at the outset, and a decline in support over time,” Ms. Kiley said.

The administration has offered nonspecific and conflicting rationales for Mr. Trump’s decision to kill General Suleimani, but in his remarks on Wednesday he linked it to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal, and also accused Iran’s leaders of sponsoring terrorism. He argued that the strike on General Suleimani was warranted in order to protect America from future attacks.

Polls suggest these could be winning arguments.

Pew data collected in 2018 show that a wide majority of Americans — 72 percent — think that protecting the country from terrorism should be a top foreign-policy priority, and about two-thirds said the same thing about preventing the development of major warheads abroad.

And while Americans generally favor diplomacy over force, three in five registered voters nationwide said in a Fox News poll this summer that they would support taking military action if it was needed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

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Tom Steyer Qualifies for Democratic Debate With Two Surprising Polls

Westlake Legal Group 09steyer-facebookJumbo Tom Steyer Qualifies for Democratic Debate With Two Surprising Polls Steyer, Thomas F south carolina Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Political Advertising New Hampshire Nevada Iowa Debates (Political)

With two startling polling results released late Thursday afternoon, the billionaire former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer became the sixth candidate to qualify for next week’s Democratic presidential debate.

Mr. Steyer will join former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on the debate stage on Tuesday in Des Moines.

Mere hours earlier on Thursday, the chances of that seemed almost nonexistent: Mr. Steyer needed two more polls showing him with 5 percent support, or two polls of early-voting states showing him at 7 percent, and the qualification deadline was only a day away.

Enter Fox News, which polled voters in Nevada and South Carolina and found Mr. Steyer at 12 percent and 15 percent.

Those are surprising numbers for a candidate who had never before exceeded 5 percent in a debate-qualifying poll, and for now they are outliers, inconsistent with the trends reflected in other surveys. But these are also the first qualifying polls specific to Nevada and South Carolina in almost two months, and significant changes are certainly possible in that amount of time.

CBS News/YouGov polls released this week showed Mr. Steyer at 2 percent in Iowa and 3 percent in New Hampshire, while a Monmouth University poll released Thursday showed him at 4 percent in New Hampshire. But Nevada and South Carolina have a lot more black and Hispanic voters than Iowa and New Hampshire do, which can elevate different candidates.

Mr. Steyer has been spending abundantly in the early-voting states, and if he has in fact surged, money is an obvious factor.

Were it not for Michael R. Bloomberg’s nine-figure media budget, Mr. Steyer would be by far the biggest spender in the 2020 race. He has been a prolific advertiser both nationally — spending $11 million on national cable and $4.2 million on national broadcast — and in the early states, according to Advertising Analytics. He has also spent more than $20 million on Facebook advertising.

In South Carolina, Mr. Steyer has spent about $11.2 million on television, cable and radio ads, accounting for about 65 percent of political advertising in the state’s four major media markets, according to Advertising Analytics. (Mr. Bloomberg is not competing in the first four states.) In Nevada, Mr. Steyer has spent $10.3 million, which is nearly 75 percent of the overall political advertising there.

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Democrats Love Free College, Until You Offer Them More Options

Progressive policy ideas have dominated the early stages of the Democratic primary campaign. But as candidates gather in Los Angeles for another debate on Thursday evening, Democratic voters may be seeking more moderate options.

Only one in four Democratic voters says they would favor eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a government-run plan — the centerpiece of the “Medicare for all” proposals put forward by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. And only one in three favors making public college tuition free for all Americans regardless of income, another idea shared by the two leading progressives in the race.

Westlake Legal Group survey_chart-Artboard_1 Democrats Love Free College, Until You Offer Them More Options Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none is exactly right, on …

… health care?

… the cost of college?

The government should take steps to make college more affordable, but most families should still have to pay something

The U.S. should offer government-run insurance to anyone who wants it, but people should be able to keep their private insurance if they prefer it

The government should make public colleges free to middle- and low-income Americans, but wealthy families should still have to pay

The U.S. should adopt a national health care plan in which all Americans get their insurance from a single government plan

The government should make public colleges free for all Americans, regardless of income

The U.S. should reform its existing health insurance system another way, without creating a government-run plan

The health insurance system is mostly working now and requires only minor changes

The government should not take any of the above steps

Westlake Legal Group survey_chart-Artboard_2 Democrats Love Free College, Until You Offer Them More Options Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none is exactly right, on …

… the cost of college?

… health care?

The government should take steps to make college more affordable, but most families should still have to pay something

The U.S. should offer government-run insurance to anyone who wants it, but people should be able to keep their private insurance if they prefer it

The government should make public colleges free to middle- and low-income Americans, but wealthy families should still have to pay

The U.S. should adopt a national health care plan in which all Americans get their insurance from a single government plan

The government should make public colleges free for all Americans, regardless of income

The U.S. should reform its existing health insurance system another way, without creating a government-run plan

The health insurance system is mostly working now and requires only minor changes

The government should not take any of the above steps

Notes: Data shown includes Democrats and people who report leaning toward the Democratic Party. Responses of ‘no answer’ not shown. | Source: SurveyMonkey

By The New York Times

Those results, from a survey conducted this month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey, are striking because past polls, including those from The Times, have shown broad-based support for progressive ideas among Democrats. Last month, 81 percent of Democrats said they approved of Medicare for all; in July, 82 percent said they supported making public colleges free for all.

But those earlier surveys asked simple yes-or-no questions. The most recent survey offered respondents more options to choose from. And it found that Democratic voters consistently preferred policies that were well to the left of current law, but were more moderate than those proposed by Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren.

Most Democrats, for example — 58 percent — said they would like to make government-run insurance universally available, while allowing people to keep their private insurance if they prefer it, a policy similar to the “Medicare for all who want it” plan proposed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and a related proposal from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. A further 15 percent said the United States should reform the health care system without adopting a government-run plan at all, or that the current system was working well. Only 25 percent said they would prefer a Medicare for all plan that eliminates private insurance.

The preference for more moderate policies cuts across age groups, races, education levels and even ideology: Among Democrats who said they were “liberal” or “very liberal,” only 30 percent chose the most progressive option for health care reform.

Naomi Korchonnoff, a graduate student in Tacoma, Wash., supports Mr. Sanders, who she said would tackle systemic problems that other candidates are afraid to address. But she stopped short of supporting Mr. Sanders’s plan to get rid of private insurance.

“I don’t agree with the blanket aspect of it because I think that people who earn enough to have their own private insurance, say through their employer, should be able to keep that,” she said. “It’s ideal insurance to have.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166158159_39dfd583-7809-4832-856b-5af40eabd177-articleLarge Democrats Love Free College, Until You Offer Them More Options Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Naomi Korchonnoff, a graduate student in Tacoma, Wash, supports Bernie Sanders but doesn’t agree with the candidate that the government should eliminate private health insurance.Credit…Jovelle Tamayo for The New York Times

Ms. Korchonnoff, 31, said the lawmakers should make health care available to all, especially low- and moderate-income people who do not qualify for existing government programs but struggle to afford insurance through the subsidized marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

“Making it available to people who cannot afford to buy marketplace insurance is very important,” she said.

The Times survey showed similar results when it came to “free college” proposals. About a third of Democrats said that the government should make public colleges free to low- and moderate-income families, but that the wealthy should still have to pay — again a policy close to that proposed by Mr. Buttigieg. Another third said that college should be more affordable but that most families should have to pay something. The remaining third expressed the most liberal position, that college should be free for all.

Voters also sounded a note of caution about the cost of candidates’ plans: Half of Democrats said the United States should adopt progressive proposals only if they do not increase the budget deficit, compared to 38 percent who said they supported the plans regardless of their fiscal impact. Both Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren say they will pay for their plans through higher taxes, not through borrowing more money.

In interviews, voters gave different reasons for their positions. Some said they thought the most liberal positions went too far or questioned whether they would work in practice. Others were more focused on political strategy, concerned that liberal positions would hurt Democrats in the general election next fall.

“I have a preferred idealistic position, which is Medicare for all,” said Carla Silvey, a tech worker in the San Francisco area. “I don’t know how feasible that is.”

Ms. Silvey, 50, said she believed a government-run health care system was a near inevitability in the long run because the current system is too broken to last. But she is torn about whether Democrats should embrace that solution now.

“I don’t know whether to go bold or to try to be in the middle,” she said.

Many Democrats appear to be making similar calculations. Ms. Warren, who surged into the top tier of the Democratic field over the summer, has fallen in the polls in recent weeks, while Mr. Buttigieg has gained ground. (Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden have retained relatively steady support.)

Still, the Times survey doesn’t necessarily imply voters will abandon progressive candidates. Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey, noted that many voters said they trusted Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren on health care despite favoring more moderate positions than those candidates.

“Are you voting for the policy, or voting for the person?” Ms. Wronski said.

John Soderholm, a middle school guidance counselor near Minneapolis, doesn’t want to give up his private insurance, and worries that the Democratic Party will alienate voters if it embraces too liberal a message. But he said Democrats also run a risk if they are too meek: Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have generated enthusiasm in part by being willing to take bold positions, even if not all their supporters believe their plans will come to fruition.

“Who gets excited about incrementalism?” Mr. Soderholm asked rhetorically. “You’ve got to have some sizzle too.”


About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 4,093 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus two percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

When Offered Options, Democratic Voters Prefer a Moderate Path

Progressive policy ideas have dominated the early stages of the Democratic primary campaign. But as candidates gather in Los Angeles for another debate on Thursday evening, Democratic voters may be seeking more moderate options.

Only one in four Democratic voters says they would favor eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a government-run plan — the centerpiece of the “Medicare for all” proposals put forward by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. And only one in three favors making public college tuition free for all Americans regardless of income, another idea shared by the two leading progressives in the race.

Westlake Legal Group survey_chart-Artboard_1 When Offered Options, Democratic Voters Prefer a Moderate Path Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none is exactly right, on …

… health care?

… the cost of college?

The government should take steps to make college more affordable, but most families should still have to pay something

The U.S. should offer government-run insurance to anyone who wants it, but people should be able to keep their private insurance if they prefer it

The government should make public colleges free to middle- and low-income Americans, but wealthy families should still have to pay

The U.S. should adopt a national health care plan in which all Americans get their insurance from a single government plan

The government should make public colleges free for all Americans, regardless of income

The U.S. should reform its existing health insurance system another way, without creating a government-run plan

The health insurance system is mostly working now and requires only minor changes

The government should not take any of the above steps

Westlake Legal Group survey_chart-Artboard_2 When Offered Options, Democratic Voters Prefer a Moderate Path Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Which of the following comes closest to your view, even if none is exactly right, on …

… the cost of college?

… health care?

The government should take steps to make college more affordable, but most families should still have to pay something

The U.S. should offer government-run insurance to anyone who wants it, but people should be able to keep their private insurance if they prefer it

The government should make public colleges free to middle- and low-income Americans, but wealthy families should still have to pay

The U.S. should adopt a national health care plan in which all Americans get their insurance from a single government plan

The government should make public colleges free for all Americans, regardless of income

The U.S. should reform its existing health insurance system another way, without creating a government-run plan

The health insurance system is mostly working now and requires only minor changes

The government should not take any of the above steps

Notes: Data shown includes Democrats and people who report leaning toward the Democratic Party. Responses of ‘no answer’ not shown. | Source: SurveyMonkey

By The New York Times

Those results, from a survey conducted this month for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey, are striking because past polls, including those from The Times, have shown broad-based support for progressive ideas among Democrats. Last month, 81 percent of Democrats said they approved of Medicare for all; in July, 82 percent said they supported making public colleges free for all.

But those earlier surveys asked simple yes-or-no questions. The most recent survey offered respondents more options to choose from. And it found that Democratic voters consistently preferred policies that were well to the left of current law, but were more moderate than those proposed by Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren.

Most Democrats, for example — 58 percent — said they would like to make government-run insurance universally available, while allowing people to keep their private insurance if they prefer it, a policy similar to the “Medicare for all who want it” plan proposed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and a related proposal from former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. A further 15 percent said the United States should reform the health care system without adopting a government-run plan at all, or that the current system was working well. Only 25 percent said they would prefer a Medicare for all plan that eliminates private insurance.

The preference for more moderate policies cuts across age groups, races, education levels and even ideology: Among Democrats who said they were “liberal” or “very liberal,” only 30 percent chose the most progressive option for health care reform.

Naomi Korchonnoff, a graduate student in Tacoma, Wash., supports Mr. Sanders, who she said would tackle systemic problems that other candidates are afraid to address. But she stopped short of supporting Mr. Sanders’s plan to get rid of private insurance.

“I don’t agree with the blanket aspect of it because I think that people who earn enough to have their own private insurance, say through their employer, should be able to keep that,” she said. “It’s ideal insurance to have.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166158159_39dfd583-7809-4832-856b-5af40eabd177-articleLarge When Offered Options, Democratic Voters Prefer a Moderate Path Warren, Elizabeth Voting and Voters Sanders, Bernard Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Medicare Health Insurance and Managed Care Democratic Party Debates (Political) Colleges and Universities Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

Naomi Korchonnoff, a graduate student in Tacoma, Wash, supports Bernie Sanders but doesn’t agree with the candidate that the government should eliminate private health insurance.Credit…Jovelle Tamayo for The New York Times

Ms. Korchonnoff, 31, said the lawmakers should make health care available to all, especially low- and moderate-income people who do not qualify for existing government programs but struggle to afford insurance through the subsidized marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

“Making it available to people who cannot afford to buy marketplace insurance is very important,” she said.

The Times survey showed similar results when it came to “free college” proposals. About a third of Democrats said that the government should make public colleges free to low- and moderate-income families, but that the wealthy should still have to pay — again a policy close to that proposed by Mr. Buttigieg. Another third said that college should be more affordable but that most families should have to pay something. The remaining third expressed the most liberal position, that college should be free for all.

Voters also sounded a note of caution about the cost of candidates’ plans: Half of Democrats said the United States should adopt progressive proposals only if they do not increase the budget deficit, compared to 38 percent who said they supported the plans regardless of their fiscal impact. Both Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren say they will pay for their plans through higher taxes, not through borrowing more money.

In interviews, voters gave different reasons for their positions. Some said they thought the most liberal positions went too far or questioned whether they would work in practice. Others were more focused on political strategy, concerned that liberal positions would hurt Democrats in the general election next fall.

“I have a preferred idealistic position, which is Medicare for all,” said Carla Silvey, a tech worker in the San Francisco area. “I don’t know how feasible that is.”

Ms. Silvey, 50, said she believed a government-run health care system was a near inevitability in the long run because the current system is too broken to last. But she is torn about whether Democrats should embrace that solution now.

“I don’t know whether to go bold or to try to be in the middle,” she said.

Many Democrats appear to be making similar calculations. Ms. Warren, who surged into the top tier of the Democratic field over the summer, has fallen in the polls in recent weeks, while Mr. Buttigieg has gained ground. (Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden have retained relatively steady support.)

Still, the Times survey doesn’t necessarily imply voters will abandon progressive candidates. Laura Wronski, a research scientist for SurveyMonkey, noted that many voters said they trusted Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren on health care despite favoring more moderate positions than those candidates.

“Are you voting for the policy, or voting for the person?” Ms. Wronski said.

John Soderholm, a middle school guidance counselor near Minneapolis, doesn’t want to give up his private insurance, and worries that the Democratic Party will alienate voters if it embraces too liberal a message. But he said Democrats also run a risk if they are too meek: Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders have generated enthusiasm in part by being willing to take bold positions, even if not all their supporters believe their plans will come to fruition.

“Who gets excited about incrementalism?” Mr. Soderholm asked rhetorically. “You’ve got to have some sizzle too.”


About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 4,093 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Dec. 2 to Dec. 8. The company selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus two percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Joe Biden Is Sounding Like a Pundit, and He’s Bullish on a Certain Former V.P.

Westlake Legal Group 00biden-pundit-01-facebookJumbo Joe Biden Is Sounding Like a Pundit, and He’s Bullish on a Certain Former V.P. United States Politics and Government Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Biden, Joseph R Jr

DECORAH, Iowa — Joseph R. Biden Jr. insists he is the front-runner in the Democratic primary race. He cites polling in battleground states. He suggests that his coattails would help down-ballot candidates win around the country. And he worries aloud about how his answer to a given question might play in the news media (“No matter how I answer that, I’m going to get clobbered,” he observed recently aboard his campaign bus).

As he runs for president, Mr. Biden, the former vice president, has also taken on another role: self-appointed political pundit for his very own primary race, holding forth on the nuances and mechanics of the contest at every turn in the manner of a commentator on cable news.

Mr. Biden has always proclaimed his ability to take on President Trump, but as the Iowa caucuses near, his punditry is reaching a fever pitch in interviews, at fund-raisers and on the campaign trail. He has taken to narrating the race with an unusual level of detail, assessing not only his standing in the primary race but also how he would fare in the general election in specific states around the country.

Not surprisingly, he has a rosy view of a certain former vice president’s chances.

“I’m not counting on the polls, but the fact is that I’m ahead in every one of the tossup states by a substantial margin in most places,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Atlanta last month.

Campaigning in Waverly, Iowa, this month, he told the crowd, “One of the things we have to look at is who is most likely to go out there and help, if they’re the nominee, elect Democrats in states that we need to win.”

“Right now, I’m the guy who is able to win,” Mr. Biden added. “I beat Trump in every one of those states, from Montana to Ohio to Pennsylvania to North Dakota — I mean, excuse me, North Carolina — to Florida, to Texas, etc.”

Hypothetical general-election matchups are, at this early stage of a volatile race, hardly predictive, and Montana, for one thing, is not generally viewed as a battleground state. And for all of Mr. Biden’s touting of surveys, his own polling picture in the Democratic primary is decidedly mixed: While he maintains a lead in national polls and in available surveys in Nevada and South Carolina, he has struggled this fall in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states to vote in the primary race. A weak showing in those two states could harm Mr. Biden’s efforts to cast himself as the safest choice in a general election.

But for now, despite a host of missteps and controversies this year, a major factor in Mr. Biden’s national resilience in the race is the perception, among some voters, that he is best equipped to defeat Mr. Trump. With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, Mr. Biden and his backers are presenting a sustained and detailed pitch about his ability to land swing voters and help Democrats up and down the ballot, a message that has been on vivid display recently during trips to Iowa and on the fund-raising circuit.

“He’s got experience and empathy, but a fair amount of his appeal is also the assumption that he could beat Trump, and he doesn’t want to lose that edge and so he may be leaning into that,” said David Axelrod, President Barack Obama’s former chief strategist. “It’s pretty unusual. Generally speaking, you leave the handicapping to your strategists and your spokespeople and your supporters, and you talk about vision and direction. But there isn’t anything usual about anything this election year.”

Mr. Biden is hardly the only candidate to talk about his political strengths, in a campaign in which Democrats are fixated on the question of how best to defeat Mr. Trump. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota invokes her electoral success in competitive political territory. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., plays up his roots in the industrial Midwest. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont embarked upon a “Bernie Beats Trump” tour of Iowa in September. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who promises sweeping change, warns that a Democratic nominee lacking far-reaching ambitions would lose to Mr. Trump.

But the case for Mr. Biden, as expressed by the candidate and his surrogates at recent campaign events, can be especially blunt.

“Here are three reasons why Joe Biden is the only person for this election,” Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, told a crowd in Des Moines last month. “No. 1 is the polls. All of the polls show that Joe Biden is the strongest match against Trump.”

During Mr. Biden’s “No Malarkey” bus tour in Iowa in the days after Thanksgiving, Tom Vilsack, the former agriculture secretary and Iowa governor, also invoked general-election polls against Mr. Trump. “If you take a look at the polls today, and if you take a look at the polls throughout this entire campaign, the one person who’s consistently ahead by a large margin is Joe Biden,” Mr. Vilsack said.

At another event, Mr. Vilsack’s wife, Christie Vilsack, offered the same pitch, citing “the polls in states that will really matter in this election, like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, just to name a few.”

Mr. Biden’s punditry goes far beyond his ability to compete in battleground states.

He has assessed his standing in the primary field (“I am the clear front-runner in the party,” he told reporters in Atlanta last month). He has cited how he fares against his fellow Democrats (“I lead all the national polls nationwide by double digits, against everybody, consistently,” he told Telemundo, though his lead was in the single digits in many recent surveys).

He has brought up his favorability rating in Iowa (“It’s in the 70s,” he told NPR, though the latest Des Moines Register/CNN poll found it to be 64 percent among likely Democratic caucusgoers). And he has boasted of his support among specific demographic groups, such as black voters (“I have more people in the African-American community supporting me than anybody else,” he said at an education forum in Pittsburgh on Saturday).

He has even spoken philosophically about the importance of the Republican Party’s continued existence. Speaking to a group of reporters on his campaign bus in Decorah this month, he fretted about what would happen if “we win big and the Republicans get clobbered.”

“I’m really worried that no party should have too much power,” he explained. “You need a countervailing force.”

Beyond his own electoral prospects, Mr. Biden argues that his mere presence atop the ticket would help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, loudly treading into territory that is often discussed quietly among party strategists.

“I may not be able to win Georgia, I think I can, but I may not be able to win it. But I can help elect a United States senator from Georgia,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser in Las Vegas last week. “Folks, it’s important not only, ‘Can the person we nominate win?’ Can they be helpful to increasing the size and scope of the Democratic Party locally as well as statewide? And I hope and I think if the numbers are true, I think I can do that.”

While Mr. Biden and his allies emphasize polls that are good for his campaign, they do not appear eager to draw attention to other surveys that are less positive.

Last month, hours after Dr. Biden cited general-election polls as she made the case for her husband, Mr. Biden faced a question about Mr. Buttigieg’s apparent strength in Iowa. “We talk about the polls,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “At this point I don’t think they mean a great deal.”

And despite his tendency to talk about polling, at times Mr. Biden appears to be relying on something less scientific: his gut feeling.

“Forget the poll numbers,” Mr. Biden said on his campaign bus in Decorah, insisting that every one of the reporters sitting before him knew that he had the best shot at helping a Democrat win in North Carolina.

“I don’t have to go out and look at a poll,” he said. “Just go into those states. You can feel it. You can taste it.”

Thomas Kaplan reported from Decorah, and Katie Glueck from New York.

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It Was a Great Day for Trump, Except for That ‘Scam’

Westlake Legal Group 13dc-TRUMP-facebookJumbo It Was a Great Day for Trump, Except for That ‘Scam’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Polls and Public Opinion Luntz, Frank I Johnson, Boris impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Abdo Benitez, Mario

WASHINGTON — President Trump had plenty of good news to talk about on Friday, beginning with the news from across the Atlantic that a close ally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, had just seen his party win a decisive majority in Parliament. There were also his accomplishments at home to promote: finishing the first phase of a trade deal with China, averting a government shutdown and moving forward with House Democrats on his signature North American trade pact.

“This has been a wild week,” Mr. Trump said, stating the obvious to reporters in the Oval Office as he praised Mr. Johnson and hailed the China accord as a “phenomenal deal.”

On any other day, the session with reporters would have been an unqualified victory lap for Mr. Trump, a leader who has long felt he does not receive enough credit for his policy accomplishments, and who on Friday had several such wins to crow about. Except that earlier in the morning, the House Judiciary Committee had voted to advance two articles of impeachment against him, prompting an all-but-certain impeachment vote and Senate trial.

Nothing about the vote was a surprise, but Mr. Trump’s private frustration and embarrassment over most likely becoming the third president in American history to be impeached bubbled again to the surface, at least momentarily, dashing the hopes of advisers who have been encouraging him to keep focused on “presidenting.”

“I think it’s a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment, which is supposed to be used in an emergency,” Mr. Trump said, scowling as he sat next to President Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay. “It’s a scam. It’s something that shouldn’t be allowed. And it’s a very bad thing for our country.”

The timing and mechanics of an impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled Senate remain in flux, but Mr. Trump said he would support a lengthy proceeding, an idea his aides have long said he favors. He added that it would give him a chance to learn more about a whistle-blower whose account of Mr. Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian president formed the basis of the impeachment inquiry.

The president’s support for a more drawn-out process was at odds with a plan set forth by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has tried to persuade the president to support an abbreviated trial.

“I’ll do whatever they want to do,” Mr. Trump said, before adding, “I wouldn’t mind a long process because I’d like to see the whistle-blower, who is a fraud.”

Mr. Trump’s extensive comments on impeachment seemed at least momentarily to conflict with the operative stance at the White House of emphasizing what the president was getting done for the American people — similar to the approach aides to President Bill Clinton took when he was impeached. But while Mr. Clinton seethed and obsessed over the proceedings in private, Mr. Trump’s use of his preferred pressure release valve — Twitter — hit a new peak this week.

“How do you get Impeached when you have done NOTHING wrong (a perfect call), have created the best economy in the history of our Country, rebuilt our Military, fixed the V.A. (Choice!), cut Taxes & Regs, protected your 2nd A, created Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, and soooo much more? Crazy!” Mr. Trump wrote Friday morning.

Mr. Trump was in a meeting in the White House residence and not watching television as the Judiciary Committee vote began, but he kept his aides close throughout morning. That group included two in-house strategists focused on impeachment messaging: Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department spokesman, and Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general. Other advisers described the president, who has publicly and privately marveled over the unity he sees in the Republican Party around impeachment, as in good spirits.

Another ally in the mix was Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer whose work to dredge up unflattering information on Mr. Trump’s political opponents landed him at the center of the Democratic-led impeachment effort.

Mr. Giuliani was ushered into the White House moments before the vote, and one senior administration official said he was there, in part, to talk about a trip he had taken to interview Ukrainians in Budapest and Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, for an anti-impeachment documentary.

Last month, Mr. Giuliani told an associate that Mr. Trump had approved of his participation in the documentary when he briefed the president about it during a meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

By the time the Paraguayan president arrived at the White House just before noon, Mr. Trump was flanked by several additional advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser.

“It’s a very sad thing for our country but it seems to be very good for me politically,” Mr. Trump said. “The polls have gone through the roof for Trump.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers firmly believe they are winning the public opinion battle around impeachment. His advisers are leaning on polls they say show shifting fortunes in politically crucial swing states, and they are closely watching the behavior of House Democrats they believe are in vulnerable districts.

Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster, offered a different assessment: Public opinion has remained polarized and static as impeachment moves forward, even with a strong economy and several trade accords in the making. “When taken together it’s a political home run,” Mr. Luntz said.

At least, it should be.

“The president never gets the credit he deserves because there’s always something ugly under the surface,” Mr. Luntz added. “Any other president would be in the 60th percentile after a week like this.”

The president’s approval rating continues to hover around 41 percent, according to national polls.

Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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With Impeachment Unfolding Amid a Booming Economy, What Will Voters Prioritize?

Westlake Legal Group 06dc-Trump-1-facebookJumbo With Impeachment Unfolding Amid a Booming Economy, What Will Voters Prioritize? United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Labor and Jobs International Trade and World Market

WASHINGTON — President Trump was greeted Friday morning with news of a blockbuster jobs report, showing that employers added 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, its lowest level since 1969.

The country’s economic condition, which has historically aligned with a president’s re-election chances, should be helping Mr. Trump sail into a second term. But what should be a top indicator of Mr. Trump’s performance as president came a day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the House to begin drafting articles of impeachment against him.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Trump to tie the two together. “Without the horror show that is the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, the Stock Markets and Economy would be even better, if that is possible,” he wrote on Twitter. “And the Border would be closed to the evil of Drugs, Gangs and all other problems! #2020.”

Such is the Trump presidency: a leader who is presiding over a record-long economic expansion that has proved more durable than anyone predicted while defending his fitness to hold office.

With 11 months to go before the 2020 election, a polarized electorate is dividing itself by which story line it views as more pertinent — the president’s potential abuse of power, or the comfort of a steady paycheck credited to his leadership.

The Trump campaign is betting that Mr. Trump’s rote denials of pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate his political foes will eventually sway enough voters to put the entire impeachment issue to the side.

“Trump having a perfectly acceptable phone call with the president of Ukraine doesn’t affect anybody’s daily life,” said Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager. “A good job with a bigger paycheck does.”

But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also testing conventional wisdom that a good economy is all voters need to keep the status quo rather than seek out change.

“Were it not for the other factors of the Trump presidency, it should be by far the most popular presidency in history, based on the economics,” said Tony Fratto, founder of Hamilton Place Strategies, a public affairs firm, and a former spokesman for the Treasury Department under President George W. Bush.

Instead of enjoying anything close to overwhelming popularity because of the economy, Mr. Trump’s national approval rating has remained low, dropping about two percentage points to 41 percent since the Ukraine story broke. One problem with Mr. Trump’s campaign message is that the economic expansion started before the president assumed office, causing many voters to take it for granted.

“At this point, voters may think this is just the normal economy,” Mr. Fratto said. “That gives them the luxury to focus on other things, like the behavior of the president.”

Another factor is also at play: While Mr. Trump routinely talks up the economy, he is far more passionate when lashing out at Democrats over the impeachment inquiry, or simply riffing about the news of the day, than when discussing the stock market and unemployment rate. His off-the-cuff comments often overshadow his dutiful recitations of gains.

At the White House on Friday, Mr. Trump noted in a monotone voice that the unemployment rate was “at the lowest rate, as I told you, in many years and in many ways I think we probably very soon say historically.”

He only seemed to come alive when discussing rolling back energy standards on light bulbs. “The new bulb is many times more expensive and I hate to say it, it doesn’t make you look as good. Of course, because being a vain person that’s very important to me,” he said, noting that it “gives you an orange look.”

Mr. Trump’s penchant for steering the conversation away from the economy is frustrating for many Republicans and business leaders, given America is powering through a record 11-year expansion. Employers have hired 2.2 million people over the past 12 months, a surprisingly robust performance at a time when unemployment is at 3.5 percent — its lowest in half a century.

Those gains have often come in spite of Mr. Trump’s policies, not because of them. And it remains an open question how long the pace of growth can continue.

The president’s globe-spanning trade war has put businesses on edge and slowed their investment. Manufacturing has dipped into outright contraction as weak global growth and geopolitical tensions weigh on exports.

Mr. Trump’s economic advisers have been keenly aware of the need to keep the economy humming as the president heads into a re-election year. “America is working and not only is America working, America is getting paid after taxes,” Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser, said on Friday. “I don’t see any end to it right now. What I see is more strength.”

Administration officials have been exploring ways to ensure the expansion continues, including tax cuts aimed directly at the middle class. The White House has not indicated which income brackets would see a lower rate but Mr. Trump is expected to back a plan that would make permanent the individual tax cuts included in the tax package he signed in 2017. Those cuts are now slated to expire in 2025.

Mr. Trump has dangled the additional tax cuts as a reason voters should back him and Republican House candidates, warning that the economy — and retirement accounts — will tank if Democrats win the White House.

“If any of these people that I’ve been watching on this stage got elected, your 401(k)’s would be down the tubes,” Mr. Trump said in October. “You’d destroy the country.”

At rallies and speeches, he has told supporters, “you have no choice but to vote for me,” citing dire economic consequences of electing any of the Democratic candidates, whom he has tried to broadly portray as a band of extreme socialists.

So far, the economy is complying with Mr. Trump’s re-election message.

Average hourly earnings increased 3.1 percent in the year through November, a moderate but sustainable pace. Bigger paychecks have given consumers more cash to spend on everything from restaurant meals to holiday shopping, helping to power the economy.

Such a strong economic track record should help insulate Mr. Trump from attacks by Democrats claiming that they can do a better job managing the economy. So far, his rivals have floated plans that they say would spread wealth more equitably by raising taxes on corporations and the rich to finance universal health care and free college tuition.

But Democrats have found a ripe opening in impeachment to hone their attacks on Mr. Trump.

“The Constitution makes clear no one is above the law,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a recent interview with MSNBC. “I hope we hold him accountable.”

Even without the impeachment drama, it’s not clear that the economy will continue complying with Mr. Trump’s campaign messaging.

Mr. Trump said this week that trade talks with China may last past the 2020 election, rattling stock markets around the world. Additional tariffs on Chinese goods are slated to take hold Dec. 15, and it is unclear whether they will be delayed. Global growth remains fragile, and while many economists expect it to accelerate in 2020, that forecast could be upended by an escalation in the trade war.

“We’re really in terra incognita here, I think, in terms of what’s possible next year, just given all of the geopolitical factors at play,” said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at Evercore ISI.

Mr. Trump has jawboned the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates more aggressively, blaming the central bank for not doing enough to propel the economy. The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 as it tried to insulate the economy against trade tensions and slowing global growth, but it is unlikely that it will cut borrowing costs again without good reason.

For now, Mr. Trump is hoping his economic message wins out over impeachment, an issue campaign advisers predicted would be firmly in the rearview mirror by November.

“Stock Markets Up Record Numbers,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday, adding: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

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What Is Voters’ Highest Priority? There’s a Way to Find Out

Westlake Legal Group up-vavreck1-1575504369739-facebookJumbo What Is Voters’ Highest Priority? There’s a Way to Find Out Voting and Voters United States Politics and Government Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Polls and Public Opinion impeachment

Republicans in Congress have tried to discredit the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry by arguing that it distracts Congress from its real duties. One Republican-aligned group recently released a poll of 1,600 voters in four congressional districts that suggested Americans “prioritize issues over impeachment.”

But when we look at data on revealed priorities from people all over the country, we see something different. In reality, there are few things facing the nation that anyone, regardless of party, believes are a higher priority right now.

Most people would give up their preferred outcomes on health care, the environment or taxes if it meant getting what they want on impeachment. It is an important issue for almost everyone.

Starting in July 2019, U.C.L.A. partnered with the Democracy Fund on a large-scale project called Nationscape that involves surveying more than 6,000 people every week. The surveys are fielded by Lucid, a market-research company. Interviews are conducted online on a sample that is constructed to be representative of the American population. Nationscape has returned numbers that are consistent with other polls in the same period on common questions like presidential approval and right track/wrong track. For example, a Monmouth poll (61 percent), a YouGov/Economist poll (54 percent) and Nationscape (56 percent) all recently reported that more than half of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The data from the project — on over 110,000 people nationwide to date — suggest that the thing voters most want to focus on right now is whether to impeach the president.

To assess the impact of issues on people’s political choices, we use what researchers call conjoint experiments. Here’s how it works: We start with a list of 44 policies and eight other considerations that cover a large part of the political agenda. The list includes policies like whether to establish a $15 minimum wage; impose tax cuts for the middle class; restrict abortion; or increase oil and gas drilling. The considerations include outcomes like electing a woman or a gay man to the White House, or impeaching President Trump.

Each person who takes the survey sees two randomly selected collections of up to four policy positions. Sometimes the positions are in favor of the consideration — impeaching Mr. Trump, for example — and sometimes they are in opposition to it. We ask people to choose which collection of policy outcomes they prefer. Everyone in the survey does this 10 times and, in the course of doing so, reveals which positions they are drawn to and which ones are relatively less important.

In other words, rather than simply asking people to tell us whether a policy position is important to them, we let them show us. This decreases the possibility that people are misrepresenting or concealing their true priorities.

When repeated over tens of thousands of survey respondents, the data show which policy positions Americans care about most. This is different than knowing whether people are for or against something (though we ask that, too) because it requires people to reveal what is most important to them, not just their view on the issue.

Here’s an example. If people always choose the set of policies that contains a $15 minimum wage, regardless of what else is in the set, that tells us it’s important to them. In contrast, there are likely to be issues they never select. In reality, no single issue is so important that most people will sacrifice everything else they care about just to get it, but some have more impact on people’s choices than others.

What the Nationscape data reveal is clear: Impeachment is a top priority for almost everyone, regardless of whether they are in favor of it or against it.

Democrats are nearly 40 percentage points more likely to choose a collection of policies when it contains the position they agree with on impeaching Mr. Trump. Most of them want it to happen (among Democrats with an opinion on the topic, 86 percent support impeachment; the remainder don’t). But taken as a whole, the topic is something Democrats care a lot about right now.

The only policy more important to Democrats is family separation at the southern border (92 percent of Democrats with an opinion are opposed). Slightly less important to Democrats is whether to enact a total ban on abortion (87 percent against) or build a wall on the border (86 percent against). These are the topics Democrats are less willing to sacrifice relative to the other issues we ask about; they are issues with high impact.

To get these things, Democrats are willing to give up some issues like union rights (whether to oppose right-to-work laws) and whether to oppose an immigration system based only on merit. Even climate policies are seen as less important than impeaching the president.

Whether to impeach Mr. Trump, for example, is more important to Democrats than the economic issues being talked up by the party’s presidential candidates on the campaign trail, such as debt-free college (the 12th-most important issue) or “Medicare for all” (the 16th). The environmental package called the Green New Deal came in as the 25th-most important policy to Democrats — solidly middle of the pack (though 86 percent of Democrats with an opinion support it).

Republicans are similarly focused on impeachment. They are roughly 45 percentage points more likely to choose a basket of policies when it includes their preferred position on the topic (88 percent of Republicans with a position on impeachment do not favor it). It outweighs every other issue for Republicans — including parts of Mr. Trump’s and the party’s agenda, such as building a border wall. The Green New Deal is the sixth-most important issue for Republicans — a much higher ranking than among Democrats (nearly a quarter of Republicans support it, but many more are opposed to it or just not sure).

Just like Democrats, Republicans are willing to sacrifice getting what they want on other issues, like estate tax repeal and a merit-based immigration system. Rounding out the lower-impact issues for Republicans are school vouchers, trade restrictions and a public option for health insurance.

Impeachment, family separation, the border wall — these are all issues that have become important because of Mr. Trump or his policies. Even perennially important issues such as gun policy and abortion rights may be especially so at this moment because of recent mass shootings and the changing makeup of the Supreme Court. Mr. Trump has played a role in these matters, too, and will continue to do so.

Considered in this light, the priority Americans give to the impeachment inquiry makes sense.

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, reflected recent G.O.P. sentiment when he said that impeachment “crowds out a number of issues” and stops “really important work we need to get done for the country.”

But our data suggest an ordering of priorities that indicates people care about issues that the president plays a role in. That they want to make sure he stays in office — or is removed — is one way voters can bring about the policies they most want to shape their world.


Lynn Vavreck, the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics and Public Policy at U.C.L.A., and John Sides, professor of political science at Vanderbilt, are co-authors of “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America.” Follow her on Twitter at @vavreck and him at @johnmsides.

Chris Tausanovitch is an associate professor at U.C.L.A.’s political science department. Follow him on Twitter at @ctausanovitch.

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Warren Wealth Tax Has Wide Support, Except Among One Group

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Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan to tax the assets of America’s wealthiest individuals continues to draw broad support from voters, across party, gender and educational lines. Only one slice of the electorate opposes it staunchly: Republican men with college degrees.

Not surprisingly, that is also the profile of many who’d be hit by Ms. Warren’s so-called wealth tax, which has emerged as the breakout economic proposal in the Democratic presidential primary race.

Nearly a year after Ms. Warren proposed it, the wealth tax has the support of six in 10 Americans, according to a new nationwide poll conducted by the online research firm SurveyMonkey for The New York Times. That support has dipped slightly since July, but Ms. Warren’s plan remains more popular than most proposed tax increases, and its appeal across coalitions is unusual among high-profile campaign proposals.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has also proposed a wealth tax, which would hit more taxpayers than Ms. Warren’s version, and several other candidates have announced their own plans to raise taxes on the rich, with varying degrees of detail.

The other policy plan dominating the primary debate so far — the conversion to a government-financed health care system known as “Medicare for all” — enjoys narrower support that breaks much more cleanly along party lines. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose it. Independents favor it two to one, and Democrats support it by an even higher ratio.

As the Democratic contest barrels toward the first caucuses in Iowa and beyond, the polling continues to show a racial fissure on the subject of the economy, with nonwhite Democrats expressing more concern about their economic situations than white Democrats. Those more anxious voters are less likely to support Ms. Warren, or her wealth tax, a dynamic that could prove consequential as Democrats winnow their field.

Here are three takeaways on Democratic voters, policy proposals and the role of the economy in the campaign.

The wealth tax has lost a few points of support since the last time The Times asked about the issue, in July. But it remains broadly popular, even more so than it was in February. Three-quarters of Democrats and more than half of Republicans say they approve of the idea of a 2 percent tax on wealth above $50 million.

Support for a wealth tax cuts across many of the demographic dividing lines in American politics. Men and women like it. So do the young and the old. The proposal receives majority support among every major racial, educational and income group.

College-educated Republican men, though, disapprove of it by a 15-point margin — though a vast majority of Republican men with college degrees would have a net worth below the tax threshold. (College-educated Republican women approve of the policy by an even wider margin than their male counterparts oppose it.)

One note that might give Republicans pause: The wealth tax is much more popular than the tax-cut package that President Trump signed in 2017, which only 45 percent of Americans in this Times survey said was a good move. That’s a decline from April, when the law was drawing slightly more approval than disapproval.

The movement against the Trump tax cuts since then has been powered, oddly enough, by Republicans. They largely still back the law — by 76 percent over all, compared with 20 percent of Democrats — but that support has dropped six percentage points since April.

The shift appears most pronounced among high-earning Republicans, and it contributes to a striking contrast in tax-plan approval: Americans earning more than $150,000 a year are far more likely to favor a tax increase on the very wealthy than a package of tax cuts that delivered the bulk of its benefits to the rich.

Among Democrats, education has emerged as a key dividing line on economic policy. Ms. Warren’s tax is overwhelmingly popular (86 percent support) with Democratic voters who have graduate degrees. Among voters with a high school diploma or less, the policy is still popular, but meaningfully less so, drawing 75 percent support.

Accordingly, less-educated voters are also less likely to say they favor Ms. Warren on the economy. That fits with other polling that has found the Massachusetts senator struggling to win over voters without a college degree.

Strikingly for a candidate who has put so much emphasis on the economy, Ms. Warren is viewed with caution by voters who care the most about the economy, and by those who are most worried about it. Among Democrats who say they are “very concerned” about losing their job, for example, 15 percent say they would trust Ms. Warren most on the economy out of all the Democratic candidates, compared with 23 percent of other Democratic voters.

Those struggles for Ms. Warren may partly reflect another important divide in the Democratic electorate: race. Black and Hispanic voters tend to rate the economy more highly as an issue than their white counterparts. They are also less likely to trust Ms. Warren on the economy.

Black and Hispanic voters are more likely to choose former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the candidate they would trust on the economy. So are voters who say they are concerned about their jobs or their economic prospects. But voters’ preferences don’t fall neatly along ideological lines: Those same groups also tend to give high ratings to Mr. Sanders, who is closer to Ms. Warren than to Mr. Biden on most policy matters.

The survey suggests that the newest member of the Democratic field, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, may have at least a narrow opening with voters on economic issues. About 6 percent of Democrats said they trusted Mr. Bloomberg most on the economy, putting him outside the four-person top tier (Mr. Biden, Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.) but ahead of the rest of the field.

Mr. Bloomberg drew less support on his handling of health care and international affairs, however. The other late entrant to the race, former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, was well outside the top tier of candidates on all three issues. The findings on that question came after Mr. Patrick entered the race and after Mr. Bloomberg filed paperwork for a presidential bid; he formally announced his candidacy later in the month.

Apart from taxes, health care policy has been perhaps the most significant point of disagreement among the Democratic candidates. Among the top tier of candidates, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have emphasized their support for a government-run insurance system that they call Medicare for all, while Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg have argued for less significant changes to the existing system.

Compared with the wealth tax, Medicare for all is a much more partisan issue. Republicans strongly oppose the idea; Democrats even more strongly support it. (Independents support it, too, but by a narrower margin.)

And Medicare for all doesn’t divide Democrats the way the wealth tax does. Democrats of all ages, races and education and levels support the policy by similar margins.


About the survey: The data in this article came from an online survey of 2,672 adults conducted by the polling firm SurveyMonkey from Nov. 4 to Nov. 11. A supplemental survey of 2,489 adults was conducted from Nov. 14 to Nov. 17 to collect more data on opinions of the Democratic candidates; that survey did not ask about taxes or health care policy.

In both cases, SurveyMonkey selected respondents at random from the nearly three million people who take surveys on its platform each day. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the population of the United States. The primary survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to a margin of error in a standard telephone poll) of plus or minus three percentage points, so differences of less than that amount are statistically insignificant.

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