“The poll, conducted by the Times and Siena College, found that “majorities of Republicans side with Mr. Trump on almost every issue” but “those majorities are often quite slim.”
To tease out more who makes up the modern conservative electorate, the Times divided Republican and Republican-leaning voters into six categories, defined by their feelings about the former and would-be-future president as well as their policy positions:
The Moderate Establishment (14%). Highly educated, affluent, socially moderate or even liberal and often outright Never Trump.
The Traditional Conservatives (26%). Old-fashioned economic and social conservatives who oppose abortion and prefer corporate tax cuts to new tariffs. They don’t love Mr. Trump, but they do support him.
The Right Wing (26%). They watch Fox News and Newsmax. They’re “very conservative.” They’re disproportionately evangelical. They believe America is on the brink of catastrophe. And they love Mr. Trump more than any other group.
The Blue Collar Populists (12%). They’re mostly Northern, socially moderate, economic populists who hold deeply conservative views on race and immigration. Not only do they back Mr. Trump, but he himself probably counted as one a decade ago.
The Libertarian Conservatives (14%). These disproportionately Western and Midwestern conservatives value small government. They’re relatively socially moderate and isolationist, and they’re on the lower end of Trump support compared with other groups.
The Newcomers (8%). They don’t look like Republicans. They’re young, diverse and moderate. But these disaffected voters like Democrats and the “woke” left even less.”
The “right wing” and the “blue collar populists”—which make up a combined 37 percent—are loyal Trump supporters. The others in the coalition have more mixed or even negative views of Trump.”
“Two theories may explain why the biggest shift in Trump’s favorability rating happened after Trump was charged with mishandling of classified material. For one, it is the only crime (so far) that was not known before this year. The Wall Street Journal reported on the hush money payments way back in 2018, and the events surrounding efforts to overturn the 2020 election played out mostly in public, with lots of the evidence presented in the Justice Department’s indictment initially reported by U.S. media outlets and documented in a report from the House of Representatives last year. And while there was some reporting on Trump’s legal efforts to hold onto classified material, including wall-to-wall coverage of a 2022 raid on Mar-a-Lago conducted as part of the investigation, the unsealing of Trump’s indictment for maintaining classified documents after he left the White House represented the first time the breadth of the prosecution’s allegations became clear.
That case also deals with matters of national security, which are important both to the average American and average Republican.”
“Trump’s indictments for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, meanwhile, could have additional political costs, particularly if he wins the Republican nomination. GOP primary voters might not care about allegations of interference, but general election voters are another story: Two studies of election results in the 2022 midterms found that the Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives who received endorsements from Trump or voiced support for his election denialism performed worse than Republican House candidates who did not. In a CBS/YouGov poll conducted Aug. 2-4, a majority of adults said the indictments against Trump were “upholding the rule of law” (57 percent) and an effort to “defend democracy” (52 percent), although more than half also said the indictments and investigations were trying to stop the Trump campaign (59 percent).
And of course, these are just the indictments. Potential fallout from the trials for each series of charges (which could start as soon as January) could be even more significant. Not only will the public see an actual prosecution, Trump will also be forced to divert focus from running for president to appear in court — which could distract from his campaign.”
“In a ruling on two related cases on Thursday written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court just ended affirmative action in higher education as we know it.
The two cases — Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina — both argued that the use of race in college admissions should end, but for slightly different reasons. In the Harvard case, the plaintiffs claimed that the admissions practices of Harvard discriminated against Asian American applicants by placing a cap on the number admitted. In the North Carolina case, the plaintiffs asked the court to rule that universities can’t use race as a factor in college admissions and must use a race-neutral approach, which they argued can achieve student-body diversity.
The court — with the six Republican-appointed justices on one side and the three Democratic-appointed justices on the other — agreed that Harvard’s practices resulted in fewer Asian American applicants being admitted. And they found that the practices of both colleges violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Roberts echoed earlier rulings where he and other conservative justices stressed that the Constitution requires a colorblind reading, making any consideration of race wrong. “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it,” he wrote.
The justices in the minority did not accept that interpretation — to put it mildly. In her dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson excoriated the court for failing to address the “gulf-sized race-based gaps” in American life, and criticized the idea that using race as a factor in holistic admissions is unfair. “This contention blinks both history and reality in ways too numerous to count.” she wrote. “But the response is simple: Our country has never been colorblind.”
And although it’s a quiet — not explicit, but functional — reversal of more than 50 years of precedent, this decision might actually be popular. A poll designed to capture public opinion on major Supreme Court decisions this term found that strong majorities of Americans agree that public (74 percent) and private (69 percent) colleges and universities should not be able to use race as a factor in college admissions. Questions that remind respondents of the goal of affirmative action — to increase the numbers of Black, Hispanic and other underrepresented students on elite campuses — tend to generate more support. But people also don’t think minority groups should be given “special preferences.””
“Trump has come to define who and what Republican Party activists — that is, people who volunteer for political campaigns, donate money, work for politicians, etc. — think of as conservative. Their research, for instance, found that GOP activists viewed Trump critics like former Sens. Ben Sasse and Patrick Toomey as much less conservative than their voting records in Congress indicated. Meanwhile, GOP activists viewed Trump boosters as the most reliably conservative politicians.
But Trump has also powerfully redefined what constitutes conservatism for rank-and-file Republican voters, according to my analyses of data from the Cooperative Election Survey — a massive academic survey administered by YouGov that asks over 50,000 respondents every two years to, among other things, rate politicians’ ideologies on a seven-point scale from “very liberal” to “very conservative.”
According to CES data, Republicans nationwide now view Trump as more conservative than they did immediately before the 2016 general election. On the other hand, Utah Republicans perceived Sen. Mitt Romney as a lot less conservative after his February 2020 vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial. But that decline pales in comparison to the utter evaporation of former Rep. Liz Cheney’s conservative credentials. Wyoming Republicans repeatedly rated Cheney as a solid conservative in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Yet her reputation as a stalwart conservative vanished entirely after she voted to impeach Trump in January 2021 and subsequently became one of the former president’s most vocal critics in Congress as vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection — so much so, that Wyoming Republicans placed her all the way on the liberal side of the ideological spectrum in the 2022 CES.”
“The seven Republican senators who voted to convict the former president during his second impeachment trial were all rated as much less conservative than we would otherwise expect from their Senate voting records”
“Historically, endorsements have proven pretty predictive of who wins presidential nominating contests. Since the modern primary era began in 1972, there have been 17 Democratic or Republican primary fights that did not feature an incumbent president. The candidate with the most endorsement points3 on the day before the Iowa caucuses won 11. That’s a better track record than polls have at the same point in the election: Since 1972, the leader in national polls4 on the day before Iowa has won the nomination just 10 out of 17 times.
Twelve of those 17 times, the same candidate led in both endorsements and polls. And of those 12, nine times the candidate won. But the five times that the endorsements and polls disagreed, the endorsement leader won twice, and the polling leader won only once. The other two times, a third candidate won.
It’s a small sample size, but endorsements have an even stronger track record when you filter out the years when the endorsement leader didn’t have all that many endorsements. For example, when the endorsement leader has earned at least 15 percent of the total estimated available endorsement points by the day before the Iowa caucuses,5 that candidate has won their party’s nomination nine out of 10 times. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in 2008 is the only exception.”
“President Biden still isn’t what you’d call popular, but he’s closer to popular than he’s been in some time. On Jan. 11, Biden hit a 44.1 percent approval rating in FiveThirtyEight’s average — his highest mark since October 2021. That was 3 percentage points higher than it was on Nov. 9, which isn’t a huge increase in the grand scheme of things, but in this polarized age where any movement in the president’s approval rating is rare, it’s a veritable Bidenaissance.
This is the part of the story where you expect me to explain why this is happening. Which is understandable, except it’s impossible to know for sure what’s behind this shift. One leading theory, though: It’s because inflation has been slowing down. Prices in December 2022 were just 6.5 percent higher than they were in December 2021, which was the lowest inflation rate in over a year. Gas prices, another highly visible metric of the strain on Americans’ wallets, also plummeted from an average of $3.80 per gallon in November to $3.32 per gallon in December. These seem like pretty compelling explanations, considering how closely Biden’s approval rating was tied to the inflation rate and gas prices last year.”
“But is Biden’s luck about to run out? The discovery of a handful of classified documents from the Penn Biden Center and Biden’s Delaware home has generated arguably the first bad news story for Biden in months, and it’s fair to wonder whether it will reverse — or at least halt — his miniature political comeback. The few polls that have been conducted since these revelations suggest that Americans think Biden acted badly, and that could be dragging down his approval rating.”
“Inflation, abortion, the economy, and crime were the top issues for voters overall, the poll notes. Voters who saw inflation as the sole election issue broke for Republicans. Voters who also cared about abortion and jobs as top issues (but still cared about inflation) broke for Democrats.
The big lesson for Republican candidates comes further down the results when they asked people who voted Republican what their reasons were behind the vote. The very top reason people voted for Republicans was to “reduce government spending and get inflation under control.” Forty-nine percent of the people who voted Republican in the survey tagged this as their reason. It was followed by crime fears, immigration fears tied to the flow of drugs (even though it’s almost never immigrants who are responsible for drug trafficking at the border), and bolstering domestic energy production and getting gas prices down.
All the way at the bottom of the list was culture war agitation. Only 21 percent said they voted for Republicans to “combat cancel culture and protect freedom of speech.” Only 20 percent said they voted for Republicans to “keep transgender athletes out of girls’ sports teams and stop the promotion of transgender surgeries on our children.” Parents’ rights and getting “political agendas” out of classrooms fared a little better but still drove less than a third of Republican votes.”
“Our data indicates that some respondents who lean toward the Republican Party are less likely to take part in follow-up surveys. But we didn’t find ourselves in a situation where all Republicans were not answering, and we were able to find a few clues as to who exactly these Republican non-respondents could be.”