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Monday, January 16, 2017

The People Don't Like Trump

Gallup reports:
President-elect Donald Trump approaches Inauguration Day with a significantly lower favorable rating than his three immediate predecessors received when they were presidents-elect. Trump's 40% favorable rating is roughly half of what Barack Obama enjoyed before his inauguration in 2009 (78%) and is much lower than the pre-inaugural ratings for George W. Bush (62%) and Bill Clinton (66%).
The latest findings were collected in a Jan. 4-8 Gallup poll.
Of the four most recent incoming presidents, Trump is the only president-elect whose unfavorable rating outweighs his favorable score; a majority of 55% of Americans hold a negative view of Trump, compared with 18% who did so for Obama, 26% for Clinton and 36% for Bush. Gallup has asked favorable and unfavorable ratings for key figures in this format since 1992, so only comparisons to Clinton, Bush and Obama are available.
Trump's latest favorable rating -- along with his post-election November and December ratings -- remains slightly higher than during the course of the presidential campaign, when it never rose above 38%, including 34% in the week before the election. The three previous presidents-elect also saw improvement in their images after winning the election. Obama's favorable image increased 16 percentage points, Clinton's rose 15 points and Bush's seven points between Gallup's final pre-election poll and its last pre-inauguration poll in prior transfers of power.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Another Trump Database

John Templeton and colleagues report at Buzzfeed:
No American president has taken office with a giant network of businesses, investments, and corporate connections like that amassed by Donald J. Trump. His family and advisers have touched a staggering number of ventures, from a hotel in Azerbaijan to a poker company in Las Vegas.

So we compiled a list of as many as we could to keep track of them all.
...We spent two months building the dataset from public records, news reports, and other sources on the Trump family, his Cabinet picks, and top advisers — more than 1,500 people and organizations altogether. BuzzFeed News is the first news organization to publish such an exhaustive list of Trump’s business interests, and we hope it will help you, the public, better understand the new administration.
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Siding With Trump

At The Huffington Post, Ariel Edwards-Levy reports on a HuffPost-YouGov survey:
Unsurprisingly, Trump voters overwhelmingly say they’d back him in a dispute against Democrats in Congress. Eighty-four percent say they’d be more likely to agree with the president-elect, with fewer than 1 percent saying they’d be inclined to side with Democrats.

But a majority also say they’d be likely to support Trump over both congressional Republicans generally and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in particular.

That’s despite the fact that Ryan is well liked among those who voted for Trump. In another recent survey, 60 percent of Trump voters said they approved of Ryan’s handling of his job as speaker, with just 24 percent disapproving.

Other traditionally powerful voices on the right also fared badly in a hypothetical argument against Trump. Just 13 percent of Trump supporters say they’d be likely to side with conservative commentators, like Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham, over the president-elect, and just 23 percent that they’d be inclined to support evangelical Christian leaders. (Self-described born-again Christians who voted for Trump, however, say by a 19-point margin, 41 percent to 22 percent, that they’d follow their religious leaders.)

The one voice that Trump voters prioritized over the president-elect was that of the military. By a 7-point margin, 39 percent to 26 percent, a plurality say they’d be more inclined to agree with military leaders than with Trump in a political disagreement.

Trump's Unpopular Transition

Gallup reports:
In Gallup polling conducted two weeks before Inauguration Day, President-elect Donald Trump continues to garner historically low approval for his transition performance, with 51% of Americans disapproving of how he is handling the presidential transition and 44% approving. Last month, the public was split on this question, with 48% approving and 48% disapproving.
Trump's 48% transition approval rating in December was already the lowest for any presidential transition Gallup has measured, starting with Bill Clinton's in 1992-1993. Trump's current rating only further separates him from his predecessors -- particularly Barack Obama, who earned 83% approval for his handling of the transition process in January 2009, up from 75% in mid-December 2008.
Republicans' rating of Trump's transition has remained positive, with 87% approving in the Jan. 4-8 poll, similar to the 86% recorded last month. Very few Democrats approve, which has also been fairly steady, at 13% this month versus 17% in December. Meanwhile, his transition approval among independents has fallen from 46% to 33%.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Polarization and Global Threats

Pew reports on a new national survey on foreign policy.
Nearly eight-in-ten (77%) Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say global climate change is a major threat to the well-being of the United States, compared with only 25% of Republicans and Republican leaners.
By contrast, Republicans are about twice as likely as Democrats to say the large number of refugees leaving Iraq and Syria is a major threat to the U.S. (63% vs. 30%).
The largest change in partisan views of global threats is seen in assessments of Russia. Currently, Democrats are 26 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say Russia’s power and influence is a major threat to the well-being of the United States (67% vs. 41%).
As recently as last April, before the allegations that Russia hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, Republicans were somewhat more likely than Democrats to view tensions with Russia as a major threat (46% of Republicans vs. 37% of Democrats). (For more on views of Russia and the alleged hacking, including ratings of Vladimir Putin, see: “U.S. public sees Russian role in campaign hacking, but is divided over new sanctions,” released Jan. 10, 2017)
The survey finds only modest partisan differences in views of the threat from the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But the gap in Mideast sympathies – for either Israel or the Palestinians – now stands at its widest point in surveys dating to 1978.
Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74%) say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians; just 11% sympathize more with the Palestinians, while 15% say they sympathize with neither side, both sides or do not offer a view.
 Democrats are divided – 33% sympathize more with Israel, 31% more with the Palestinians, while 35% sympathize with neither, both or don’t express an opinion. While Republicans’ views of the Mideast conflict have changed little over the last few years, the share of Democrats sympathizing more with Israel has fallen 10 points since April 2016, when 43% said they sympathized more with Israel.

Left Coast Dems Head Farther Left

Jeff Horseman reports at the Riverside Press-Enterprise:
Self-described progressives, many of whom backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, claimed sweeping victories in last weekend’s California Democratic Party delegate elections. They hope to influence the leadership, policies and direction of the state’s dominant political party. 
“This is a ringing endorsement of the new direction the Democratic Party needs, not just in California, but nationally,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which passionately campaigned for Sanders last year. Many new delegates are nurses, the association said.

Others are skeptical about whether the new delegates can dramatically change what’s already a left-of-center party. 
“They’re probably replacing like-minded people,” said Renee Van Vechten, a political science professor at the University of Redlands. 
It’s not clear how many of the 1,100 state delegate seats up for grabs were won by progressives. But liberals statewide say their slates dominated in elections held in each of California’s 80 Assembly districts on Saturday and Sunday.  
The district-level delegates – each district elects seven men and seven women – receive two-year terms and make up a third of the 3,200 or so delegates to the state party’s governing body, the Democratic State Central Committee. The other two-thirds come from central committees in California’s 58 counties or are appointed by Democratic elected officials and nominees.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Russia Law Firm of the Year Concocts Bogus Plan for Trump

We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit. That’s why I was glad in November when the President-elect tweeted that he wanted to, as he put it, “in no way have a conflict of interest” with his businesses. Unfortunately, his current plan cannot achieve that goal.
It’s easy to see that the current plan does not achieve anything like the clean break Rex Tillerson is making from Exxon. Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective. The Presidency is a full-time job and he would’ve had to step back anyway. The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust—it’s not even close.
I think Politico called this a “half-blind” trust, but it’s not even halfway blind. The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, “trust.” His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns. His own attorney said today that he can’t “un-know” that he owns Trump tower. The same is true of his other holdings. The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate. That’s not how a blind trust works. There’s not supposed to be any information at all. 
This isn’t the way the Presidency has worked since Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act in 1978 in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal. Since then, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all either established blind trusts or limited their investments to non-conflicting assets like diversified mutual funds, which are exempt under the conflict of interest law.
Sophie Tatum reports at CNN:
Morgan Lewis, a law firm representing President-elect Donald Trump, was named the "Russia Law Firm of the Year" last year by a group that ranks legal organizations.
Facing the press Wednesday for the first time since being elected president, Trump yielded a significant part of his news conference to an attorney from the law firm, which is helping separate him from his various business ties.
In highlighting its receipt of the Russia award, Morgan Lewis' website cites Chambers and Partners.
"This active Moscow office of an American firm offers top-level advice in regards to the energy sector and also houses very strong banking and M&A teams," Chambers and Partners writes about the award.