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Politics Podcast: Biden’s VP Statement Could Come Any Day Now

>By Galen Druke, Clare Malone, Perry Bacon Jr. and Nate Silver, Galen Druke, Clare Malone, Perry Bacon Jr. and Nate Silver, Galen Druke, Clare Malone, Perry Bacon Jr. and Nate Silver and Galen Druke, Clare Malone, Perry Bacon Jr. and Nate Silver
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Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden could announce his choice of a running mate as soon as the end of this week, according to the timeframe he laid out. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast, the crew discusses the positive and negative narratives that could emerge from each of his potential choices. They also ask why President Trump is sending federal agents into American cities and how it relates to his re-election message.

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: Biden's VP Pick Could Be Days Away

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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Why Blaming China For The Pandemic Most Likely Will Not Help Trump Win

Last week, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked President Trump about his role in how the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded in the U.S., where case numbers and the death toll are surging even as some other countries seem to be getting things under control. But in response, Trump diverted responsibility, saying, “It came from China. They should’ve never let it escape.”

Blaming China for the pandemic isn’t a new tactic for the president. In fact, it’s become a fairly common refrain as Trump and other Republicans have doubled down on accusing China of causing the coronavirus or exacerbating its spread. And while it’s unlikely that this gambit will solve all of Trump’s problems — approval numbers for his handling of the pandemic continue to tank — there is at least some evidence that Americans may be more receptive than in the past to seeing China as the culprit, as opinions of the nation are now the worst they’ve been than any time in recent history.

In 2005, Pew Research Center started regularly asking Americans about their views on China, and at that point, Americans had a fairly positive opinion of the country (43 percent said they had a favorable view and 35 percent said they had an unfavorable one). But in March of this year, as a number of states were issuing stay-at-home orders and millions of Americans were losing their jobs, the share of Pew respondents with a favorable view of China had fallen to 26 percent, while the share with a negative opinion sat at 66 percent. Granted, public opinion of China has long been on the decline, but this was still the lowest approval rating of the country since 2005.

And it wasn’t just Pew who found Americans’ opinions of China are deteriorating. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that ended in early June found that the majority of Americans held negative views of China, a 12-point uptick in unfavorable opinions since 2000. And an Economist/YouGov poll from late June found that 65 percent of Americans think China is unfriendly toward — or even an enemy of — the United States.

To understand why China is so unpopular with Americans, I spoke with Susan Shirk, a political science professor focused on U.S.-China policy at the University of California San Diego, and Michael Beckley, a political science professor at Tufts University. They suggested that, even before the pandemic, China’s own actions in recent years — including its increased military presence in the South China Sea and its alleged violations of human rights and civil liberties — have been driving down Americans’ opinion of the country.

Shirk told me she traces the changes in China’s behavior to the 2008 financial crisis, as she argued that was when perceptions really started to change. At the time, the U.S. economy was in shambles, but China’s economy emerged relatively unscathed. Shirk said this contributed to China taking a more active role internationally, which hasn’t always been well-received.

Beckley argued that Xi Jinping’s presidency has also played a significant role in creating a negative public image of China because of how he has consolidated power while in office.

Shirk told me that first and foremost, she thinks people feel increasingly negatively toward China because of “the way China’s acting.”

At the same time, though, Trump has also exacerbated tensions with China by waging a nearly two-year trade war, imposing a series of tariffs on goods U.S. imports from the country. Then, of course, the pandemic hit. “The coronavirus comes and is kind of like the final nail in the coffin,” said Beckley. And reports that China hid or downplayed severity of the pandemic in its early days are further harming the country’s global reputation. “[Unfavorability of China] has been an ongoing trend, but obviously, the current crisis makes it much, much worse,” said Beckley.

In the U.S., this has meant a rapid deterioration in public opinion toward China, with both Democrats and Republicans souring on the country. In three recent polls, all taken after the pandemic reached the U.S., about three-quarters of Republicans said they had an unfavorable opinion of China, felts negatively toward China or considered China unfriendly or an enemy. Among Democrats, the share who felt the same was anywhere from 44 percent to 62 percent.

It’s not clear, though, whether this increased negativity toward China presents a political opportunity for either Trump or presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Some have argued that a firm anti-China stance could benefit either or both parties, though Beckley and Shirk were pretty skeptical that this would be a top issue for voters.

As you can see in the table below, the polling picture on who Americans trust to handle China is pretty hazy. One poll shows Biden with a 8-point lead over Trump on this question, while two others give him a more modest lead, and one gives Trump a narrow advantage.

No strong consensus on who’d handle China better

Share of voters who think Biden or Trump would be better at handling U.S. relations with China

PollsterPolling DatesBidenTrumpMorning Consult/PoliticoJune 26-2943%37Harvard CAPS/HarrisJune 17-185446NBC/WSJMay 28-June 24043Fox NewsMay 17-204337Source: Polls

Additionally, given that the U.S. is dealing with a major health crisis, an economic downturn and protests across the country, Beckley and Shirk both told me they were somewhat dubious of the idea that either Republicans or Democrats would be able to rally voters around China. Shirk said that unlike some other topics in the news, U.S. relations with China just aren’t as personal to voters. And Beckley said that given each candidate’s track record with China, he didn’t think either Trump or Biden would be able to use the issue much to their advantage.

“Even though the Trump administration can claim a lot of credit for altering U.S.-China policy and taking a harder-line turn, Trump has said a lot of nice things about Xi Jinping and has been willing to look the other way on China’s human rights violations,” said Beckley. And Republicans will likely paint Biden as belonging to an administration that had a “naive” approach toward China, Beckley said, “basically coddling a rising power.”

But China might play an outsized role in the election if Trump successfully uses it as a scapegoat for the pandemic, allowing him to shift some of the blame for his response onto China. Brian Reisinger, a Republican strategist who advised Sen. Ron Johnson’s and former Governor Scott Walker’s reelection campaigns, says that “there is a lot of room to blame China” because of its actions in the early days of the pandemic, but also because it plays on an existing hostility in important electoral states like Wisconsin, where almost 12 percent of the state’s jobs are in agriculture. “Farmers in rural Wisconsin have felt for years like they’re getting ripped off, whether its milk prices or any other type of commodity. And one of the biggest offenders in the global marketplace is China,” Reisinger said.

If Trump is able to shift the blame, it could help his campaign stanch the bleeding. And it might work. A Navigator poll from late April, for instance, tested multiple narratives about who’s to blame for the pandemic, asking voters which of two statements they agreed with more even if they didn’t fully agree with either. When forced to choose between a statement that placed all the blame on Trump and one that put all the blame on China, respondents were essentially evenly divided, 49 to 51, which is well within the poll’s confidence interval. A statement that blamed both Trump and China got slightly more support, at 54 percent. This suggests that at least some voters are open to an argument that gives China a significant share of the blame for the pandemic.

For Democrats, that means the party’s messaging on China will need to focus on what they see as Trump’s flawed argument on the coronavirus — arguing that he, not China, is to blame — and setting the record straight on Trump’s previous dealings with the country, said Mike Spahn, managing director of Democratic consulting firm Precision Strategies. “I think what you’ve already seen and will continue to see is the Biden campaign poking holes,” Spahn said. For example, Biden released an ad in April that criticized the president for accepting Jinping’s word that the coronavirus was under control and failing to get more American experts into China.

Of course, a lot has changed since April. Now, more than 145,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and a majority of Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling the coronavirus. And who Americans believe is at fault has been shifting too. Morning Consult has been asking registered voters who is most to blame for the spread of the coronavirus, and in late March, a plurality of voters, 36 percent, blamed the Chinese government, compared to just 23 percent who blamed Trump. However, by late June, 35 percent of voters said they blamed Trump. Granted, 31 percent still blamed the Chinese government (and 20 percent said they didn’t know or had no opinion) but the fact that Trump led on this metric instead of China certainly doesn’t bode well for him.

In the coming months, Republicans will likely double down on efforts to convince the public that China is to blame for the devastation caused by the coronavirus — Trump is routinely doing so in his coronavirus press briefings and other public appearances — but it’s not clear that this will be a winning argument. But as long as some voters seem open to the idea, we can probably expect to keep seeing it come up as a diversionary tactic.

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Voters Are Beginning To Doubt Trump’s Reelection Opportunities

For months now, President Trump has trailed Joe Biden in the polls. First, it was only a 5- or 6-percentage-point gap, but since the middle of June, that margin has widened to anywhere from 8 to 9 points, according to FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average.

But until very recently, voters didn’t seem all that convinced that Biden could win. In poll after poll, comparatively more voters said they thought Trump would win reelection in November. Now, though, that view may be shifting.

Over the past two and a half months, the share of voters who said they expect Trump to win has fallen from about 45 percent to around 40 percent in polling by The Economist/YouGov, as the chart below shows, while Biden’s share has slowly ticked up to where Trump’s numbers are. (Roughly a fifth of respondents still say they’re “not sure.”)

Trump’s decline may not seem that dramatic — and it’s not; it’s only a few points lower — but it’s notable because prior to June, he had trailed on this question only once since The Economist/YouGov first asked it in December.1

But it’s not just the Economist/YouGov polling that supports this finding. USA Today/Suffolk University found a more substantial drop in Trump’s numbers. In late June, 41 percent of voters said they expected Trump to win, whereas 50 percent said the same in the pollster’s late October 2019 survey. Conversely, 45 percent said Biden would win in June, an improvement from the 40 percent who picked the Democratic nominee in October. Republican pollster Echelon Insights has also observed a downward trend in Trump’s numbers: In a survey completed last week, 33 percent of likely voters said they expected Trump to win, which was down from 39 percent in the pollster’s June survey. Meanwhile, the share who thought Biden would win ticked up to 43 percent in July from 40 percent in June.

On the whole, it seems voters are now less confident in Trump’s reelection chances, and the main driver of that shift may be independent voters. In USA Today/Suffolk’s June survey, 47 percent of independents picked Biden versus 35 percent who chose Trump, a reversal from the October 2019 poll, when 54 percent of independents expected Trump to win compared with 30 percent who said the Democratic nominee would win. And looking across the Economist/YouGov data since early May, the share of independents who expect Trump to win has slid as well, from the low 40s to the mid-to-high 30s.

As for Democrats and Republicans, they mostly say their respective nominee will win, although that wasn’t always the case in 2016, as many Republicans thought Hillary Clinton would win. Nonetheless, that doesn’t seem to be happening in 2020. The Economist/YouGov and USA Today/Suffolk surveys found that Democratic voters are largely confident in Biden’s chances, while most Republicans believe that Trump will win. However, since May, the Economist/YouGov polls show an increase in Democrats’ belief in Biden’s chances and a slight downtick in Republicans’ faith in Trump’s.

Betting markets also point to diminished confidence in Trump’s reelection chances. From mid-March to late May, the president usually led Biden in RealClearPolitics’ average of betting odds: Trump’s chances hovered mostly around 50 percent, while Biden’s stood in the low 40s. But in early June, Biden’s odds surged and outstripped Trump’s; now the markets give Biden about a 60 percent chance of victory, while Trump’s chances have fallen into the mid-30s.

This change isn’t necessarily surprising, as betting markets mostly follow the polling averages. But it’s also not difficult to intuit why more Americans might think Trump will lose the election now than before. The president has consistently received poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic as well as for his handling of nationwide protests precipitated by the police killing of George Floyd in late May. And Trump’s overall job approval rating has now dipped to around 40 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s tracker. Simply put, past incumbent presidents with those sorts of marks have failed to win reelection.

This is coupled with the fact that Biden’s national lead has grown, and his margin over Trump is now larger than Clinton’s edge at any point during the 2016 cycle. Looking at the Electoral College, Biden also holds sizable leads in key battleground states, which could make it difficult for Trump to win despite those states’ tending to lean more Republican than the country as a whole.

If anything, Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 is likely the biggest reason why more people don’t take a dimmer view of his reelection odds. After all, he was behind in the polls four years ago and yet went on to win, so it’s understandable that even though the margins are larger now, some Americans might be taking an attitude of “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Tellingly, a Monmouth University survey of Pennsylvania voters earlier this month found that about a quarter of respondents believe there’s a “secret” Trump vote, although there’s little evidence to support the idea that “shy” Trump voters exist.

All in all, though, voter expectations and election betting markets suggest that Americans increasingly view Biden as at least an even bet to win in November. None of this means Biden will actually defeat Trump, but these shifts do suggest that the conventional wisdom is catching up to what the state and national election polls have been telling us about the race. The electoral environment could very well change in the next three months, but these indicators are all starting to coalesce around the idea that Trump is a real underdog to win reelection.

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Why Florida Could Go Blue In 2020

Graphics by Jasmine Mithani

This is the second in a series of articles examining the politics and demographics of 2020’s expected swing states.

Electorally, Florida bounces around like a beach ball. In 2008 and 2012, as Americans nationwide backed Barack Obama for president, Florida voted Democratic too. But in 2016, when Donald Trump reclaimed the White House for the Republicans, Florida switched its allegiance to the GOP. Indeed, the Sunshine State has voted for the national winner in each of the past six presidential elections.

But in 2018, Florida stopped following national trends. In a great year for Democrats nationwide, which saw them net 40 House seats and seven governorships, the “blue wave” stopped at Florida’s sandy beaches. Although the national political environment leaned almost 9 percentage points in Democrats’ favor, Republican Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by 0.1 points, and Republican Ron DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum by 0.4 points in the open-seat race for governor. The results prompted some pundits to relabel Florida a “red state” going into the pivotal 2020 election.

They’re right, to a degree: Florida has long been a slightly red state. Since 2004, it has consistently voted 3 or 4 points more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. (Indeed, polls of Florida are currently1 0.9 points better for President Trump than national polls, according to FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages.) But could what happened in 2018 — when Florida was so much redder than the nation that it was out of reach for Democrats, even in a wave election — happen again in 2020?

It’s true that, on the surface, Nelson and Gillum barely improved upon Hillary Clinton’s 1.2-point loss in Florida in 2016. Accounting for the much bluer national environment, that would imply either that Florida is immune to shifts in the national mood or that the state lurched to the right sometime in the intervening two years. But as the map below shows, Nelson actually performed from 3 to 14 points better than Clinton in a majority of Florida counties, even though he lost many of her voters elsewhere in the state. (Gillum’s map told a similar story, so we’re not showing it, as of the two 2018 Democratic candidates, Nelson — a moderate white man in his 70s — is a better stand-in for the party’s presumptive 2020 presidential nominee, Joe Biden.) This is important because it underscores that the state is not “wave-proof”; instead, it’s made up of some complex coalitions that we’ll dive into more momentarily.

Ultimately, Scott (and DeSantis) won because they did significantly better than Trump in a handful of big counties, virtually erasing Democratic gains elsewhere. Most glaringly, Miami-Dade County — Florida’s most populated county — and Osceola County voted more than 8 points more Republican in the 2018 Senate race than in the 2016 presidential race. In addition, Nelson underperformed Clinton by 6 points in the much less populous Hendry County.

What’s so special about these counties? They are Florida’s three majority-Hispanic counties, and it turns out that Hispanic voters voted significantly less Democratic in 2018 than in 2016. According to exit polls, Hispanic voters voted for Nelson 54 percent to 45 percent (the gubernatorial numbers were virtually identical), two years after they supported Clinton 62 percent to 35 percent. So the big question for Democrats in 2020 is whether Biden can return to Clinton’s level of support among Hispanics.

It’s hard to say for sure, as the reasons for Democrats’ 2018 underperformance in Florida are as diverse as the state’s Hispanic population. For example, Puerto Rican Floridians (who make up 32 percent of Osceola County) strongly dislike Trump, but they actually gave Scott high marks for focusing on their community in the wake of Hurricane Maria. But with Trump back on the ballot in 2020, there’s good reason to think that their Republican sympathies will evaporate once again. According to Carlos Odio, the co-founder of data firm EquisLabs, a private poll recently gave Biden a 41-point lead among Puerto Rican voters in Florida, which would be close to the 46-point lead Clinton enjoyed in a Latino Decisions poll immediately before the 2016 election.

Democrats may not be able to solve their problems so easily with Cuban Americans, though, who make up the plurality (36 percent) of crucial Miami-Dade County. Cuban Americans are the rare bloc of Hispanic voters who truly lean Republican; in fact, they outright backed Trump in 2016. Trump is estimated to have won between 50 percent and 58 percent of Florida’s Cuban American vote in 2016, and this group has been even more Republican in past presidential elections. They still vote strongly Republican in elections for lower offices as well. For instance, the Florida International University Cuba Poll, which has measured public opinion among Cuban Americans for almost 30 years, found that Scott and DeSantis each won about 70 percent of the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade. This was likely instrumental in Miami-Dade’s rightward shift in 2018: An analysis of the 2016 and 2018 results by Democratic data consultant Matthew Isbell found that the Miami-Dade precincts that swung hardest toward the GOP were its most Cuban American precincts.

And unfortunately for Biden, Trump’s crusades against socialism and hardline stance against Cuba and its close ally Venezuela2 may have elevated his standing among Cuban Americans. An EquisLabs poll from November 2019 found that 63 percent of Cuban American voters in Florida would vote to reelect Trump (though, of course, that was long before the pandemic started dragging down his polling numbers across the board). That wouldn’t be as bad for Democrats as 2018, but EquisLabs estimates that level of support would be worth a net of 90,000 more Trump votes in Florida than in 2016.

However, even if Trump makes inroads with Cuban Americans, some historical trends suggest that Miami-Dade will not be as red as it was in 2018. For reasons ranging from disproportionately low Democratic turnout in midterms to the Cuban American habit of voting more Republican in nonpresidential races, the margin in Miami-Dade is almost always less Democratic in midterm years than in the presidential years on either side. So Miami-Dade’s right turn in 2018 was actually completely predictable — and it might not mean anything for 2020.

The real question mark is whether Miami-Dade will follow the pattern of recent years in 2020 and be bluer than it was in 2016. For reasons ranging from generational change (Cuban Americans born in the U.S. are more likely than their immigrant parents and grandparents to vote Democratic) to the ubiquitous urban and suburban realignment, the county has voted more Democratic in every successive presidential election since 2004.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that this trend won’t continue.

One final point in Biden’s favor is Florida’s large population of older Americans. Of all the states in the union, Florida has the largest proportion of residents age 65 or older (20 percent) — and polls indicate that Biden is winning among these voters nationally. That’s unusual for a Democrat these days, too, which speaks to Biden’s current electoral strength. There is evidence that Biden isn’t doing quite as well among older Floridians (Trump was leading among them by 8 points in both a recent CBS News/YouGov poll and the latest New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll), but the former vice president is still doing better than either Clinton (who lost among voters age 65 or older by 17 points) or Nelson (who lost among them by 14) did, according to the exit polls.

If this trend holds, it has the potential to help Biden all across the state, but especially in counties with lots of retirement communities. Two of these counties are where Democrats also lost ground in the 2018 Senate race: Collier (which was 4 points redder in 2018 than in 2016) and Sumter (which was 3 points redder). Collier, on the southwest coast, is home to Naples and is 31 percent age 65 or older.3 And Sumter, the location of famously massive retirement community The Villages, is a whopping 56 percent age 65 or older. Unlike Miami-Dade and Osceola, these counties might really be drifting toward Republicans in the long term, but Biden may have what it takes to temporarily reverse that trend.

In summary, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Biden will be able to hold onto (or build upon) Nelson’s gains in the blue counties in the map above, thanks to the current pro-Democratic national environment. And with the help of Hispanic voters, older voters, or both, it’s also not hard to imagine Biden returning to Clinton’s levels of support in some of the counties that drifted red in 2018. However, Trump is fighting to build upon his 2016 support among these voters too, and without them, Biden will have a hard time winning the state — as 2018 showed.

The bottom line: The outlook is bright for Democrats in the Sunshine State. On average, polls of Florida show Biden leading Trump by a healthy 7.1 points.4 If that holds, it would be a blowout by Florida standards — the widest margin for a presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush won by 22 points in 1988. But, of course, if Florida does go blue again in 2020, it would put the state in a very familiar role: as a beach ball once again.

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How The Pandemic Could Force A Generation Of Mothers Out Of The Labor force

For the past few months, Alicia Wertz has barely seen her husband. Since schools closed in their northern Alabama town in March, they’ve been single-mindedly focused on a single goal: making sure that someone was watching their three kids. At first, Wertz tried working from home. But she wasn’t getting anything done, so they tried splitting the hours: Wertz’s husband watches the children in the morning, then a sitter comes to relieve him in the afternoon until Wertz takes over when she returns from work.

“When we’re not working, we’re by ourselves with the children. It almost feels like you’re a single parent. All you do is go to work and care for the kids,” Wertz said.

In her mind, Wertz is counting down the days until schools reopen. But there’s a nagging worry at the back of her head — what if they don’t open at all? “The thought of [my kids] not going back in the fall is devastating,” Wertz said when we spoke in early July. “It raises this question of — if one of us has to stay home with the children, whose job is more important? I think it was something that we did have conversations about before, but COVID-19 has made it much worse.”

Wertz isn’t the only working mother for whom the thought of the fall calendar sparks both relief and dread. And what comes next could have disproportionate — and long-lasting — effects on the careers of countless women across the country. Studies have shown that women already shoulder much of the burden of caring for and educating their children at home; now, they’re also more likely than men to have lost their jobs thanks to the pandemic. And the collapse of the child care and public education infrastructure that so many parents rely on will only magnify these problems, even pushing some women out of the labor force entirely.

“We’re in danger of erasing the limited gains we’ve made for women over the past few decades, and especially women of color,” said Melissa Boteach, Vice President for Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center.

The crux of the issue: Child care just isn’t as available as it was before the pandemic. Data provided to FiveThirtyEight by the job-search website Indeed shows that child-care services have been much slower to hire again (a useful proxy for re-opening) than other areas of the economy:

Combine that with the news that many schools will remain closed in the fall, and it’s easy to see the crisis at hand. If polling is any indication, the vast majority of the fallout is being weathered by mothers, who were already doing the majority of household work even before the pandemic began.

In 2015, the Pew Research Center asked parents about how they divide family responsibilities when both work full-time.1 Some tasks were split relatively evenly: Twenty percent of respondents said the mother disciplined children more, 17 percent said the father disciplined more, and 61 percent said that responsibility was shared equally. For every task, however, more respondents reported that the mother carried a greater amount of the load than those who said the father did — including areas involving managing children’s schedules, caring for children when they’re sick and handling household chores.

Moms usually shoulder more of the load at home

Share of parents in households with two full-time working parents who say each parent does more work in a given category, according to a Pew poll

Share of parents who say…CategoryMother does moreFather does moreWork split equallyManaging children’s schedules/activities54%6%39%Taking care of sick children47647Handling household chores, etc.31959Playing/doing activities with children221364Disciplining children201761Based on 2015 poll by Pew Research, with a sample size of 531 respondents. The sample included male/female married couples only.

Source: Pew Research center

Along similar lines, Pew also found in a poll from 2019 that 80 percent of women living with a partner who had children did the primary grocery shopping and meal-preparation duties for their families. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey — which tracks the average amount of time people spend per day on different categories of activity — married mothers with full-time jobs spent 56 percent more time doing childcare and housework than corresponding fathers. By contrast, fathers spent more time on work-related tasks, travel and leisure activities.2

ll that extra time moms spend really adds up

Daily time spent doing various activities by married parents of children under 18 who both worked full-time, according to the American Time Use Survey

Hours spent per dayActivityMothersFathersDiff.Household activities1.871.23+0.64Physical care for children0.590.280.31Child care – other0.360.220.14Child-related travel0.250.130.12Education-related activities0.100.060.04Reading with children0.050.030.02Playing/hobbies with children0.270.29-0.02Total3.492.241.25Survey data covers the combined years of 2015 through 2019 and includes both opposite- and same-sex couples.

Source: bls.gov

Even under normal circumstances, it was difficult for mothers of young children to balance work against the heavy burden of child care. The BLS found that in 2019, the labor force participation rate for women with children under age 6 was 66.4 percent, well below the rate for women with children age 6 or older3 (76.8 percent). According to a 2014 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, 61 percent of women who were out of a job and have young children listed “caretaking” as a reason why they were not employed. Forty-six percent of women who were out of a job and have older children said the same. To put that in perspective, only 10 percent of all respondents who were out of work gave caregiving as a reason.4

A similar strain is apparent in working mothers’ decisions to take unpaid leave, or even part-time jobs instead of full-time ones. According to that same census survey from 2014, 30 percent of women who were part-time workers with young children — and 19 percent of women with older children — said caretaking was a reason they worked part-time. (Among part-time workers, the overall share is just 7 percent.)5

Now, with schools closed and day cares struggling to remain open, even more women may conclude that the best — or perhaps the only — choice for their family and their own sanity is to reduce their hours, or even press “pause” on their career.

“Sometimes I’ll get to a point where I’m like, ‘I’m so tired, I’ll have to go part-time to make it all work,’” said Lee Dunham, a lawyer who lives in Delaware. Since the pandemic started, Dunham has been mostly responsible for her 10-month-old daughter during the day — which means her work day doesn’t start until 8 p.m. and usually wraps around 2 a.m.. “I’m just basically not getting enough sleep because I’m watching the baby 40 hours a week and doing my job 40 hours a week. It’s really rough.”

Dunham feels she’s lucky to have an understanding employer who told her earlier this year that they’d be cutting all of their employees some slack because of the pandemic. But at the time, she added, everyone was assuming day care would be up and running by mid-summer. “It might be that I have to dial back my hours, which of course means I will get paid less.”

This kind of calculus already depresses women’s wages and makes it harder for their careers to progress. According to the National Women’s Law Center, mothers are typically only paid 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers. In fact, a lot of recent research into the gender pay gap has found that much of it is simply due to the constraints on working mothers. For instance, a 2018 analysis of data from Denmark — which offers a counterpoint to the United States in terms of social safety net, yet still has a very large and persistent gender wage gap — found that women’s earnings drop significantly after having their first child, while men’s earnings aren’t affected at all. And crucially, several studies in the U.S. and other countries have found that the trajectory of wages for women who don’t have children resembles those of men, whether they have kids or not (although some research has actually suggested that becoming a father can contribute to men’s career success).

This disparity is particularly intense for women of color. Black mothers are paid only 54 cents for every dollar paid to a white father, according to NWLC; for Latina mothers, it’s 46 cents. Low-income women of color are also among the likeliest to have lost their jobs in the current recession. And they’re disproportionately likely to be the child-care workers who are being asked to come back to work, sometimes in unsafe working conditions, for low wages. “We’re in a vicious cycle where we need child care as one of the tools to get women to equal pay, and yet unequal pay is one of the primary reasons that women are pushed into staying home,” Boteach said.

Leaving the workforce, even if it’s just for a year or two, has ripple effects that can follow a woman for the rest of her life, even depressing her earnings in retirement. Finding a new job after a few years on hiatus can be very difficult for mothers, who may be stereotyped as less serious about their careers because they took time off to be with their children. One study from 2007 found that mothers were perceived to be less competent than fathers, and their recommended salaries were also lower.

During this pandemic, you can already see the disproportionate impact taking shape. The unemployment rate for women in April was 16.2 percent, higher than it has been in any month since at least 1948, before dropping to 11.7 percent in June — a percentage point higher than the rate for men (10.6 percent). Even more striking, labor force participation for women dipped to 54.7 percent in April before rising to 56.1 percent last month. Both of those numbers are reminiscent of the rates for women from the 1980s — back when the very notion of women in the workforce was still gaining momentum.6

Wertz has no plans to leave her job — at least for now. “I worked incredibly hard to get to where I am now,” she said. “I essentially paid my way through school with no family support. For years I worked entirely too hard for not enough money.” Already, she worries that she’s perceived differently in the workplace because she’s a mother. “Even if it was just a year, I know how that gap would look on my resume,” she said. “If I had to take that step back, I just don’t know if I’d recover from it.”

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Americans Assistance Ballot By Mail– But Not All Of Them Want To, Or Can

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

How do you hold an election during a pandemic? Most states are encouraging voters to cast their ballots by mail this November to avoid spreading the coronavirus, and some of them are revising their election laws to make that easier.

Under normal circumstances, 34 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have allowed people to vote absentee for any reason, including five that conduct vote-by-mail elections by default (i.e., every voter is automatically mailed a ballot). But as of Thursday, at least 41 states are allowing anyone to vote absentee this fall, including seven states and Washington, D.C., that will mail voters ballots by default. That leaves approximately 54 million eligible voters across nine states who must provide an excuse to vote absentee this fall (though some of those states may still change their laws before Election Day).

And a new poll out this week found the American people largely supportive of efforts to expand absentee voting. According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of adults said that any voter should be able to vote early or absentee without an excuse. Furthermore, an additional 14 percent thought a documented reason should be required, but that COVID-19 should count as one of the reasons. As a result, only 19 percent of Americans believed that voters should need an excuse other than the pandemic to vote absentee.

However, as on so many other issues, Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on this. While a whopping 83 percent of Democrats supported no-excuse absentee voting (and another 11 percent thought COVID-19 should be a valid excuse), only 44 percent of Republicans thought so. Another 17 percent thought COVID-19 should be an acceptable excuse, but that still left 37 percent of Republicans believing voters must provide a non-pandemic-related excuse to vote absentee.

You might be tempted to chalk up this divide to President Trump’s recent rants against voting by mail. And according to another poll released this week, from ABC News/The Washington Post, 78 percent of Trump supporters do see mail-in voting as “vulnerable to significant levels of fraud.” (It’s not.) But absentee-voting access has actually long been a partisan issue: The party splits in the Pew poll were similar in October 2018. (That said, Republican opposition to no-excuse absentee voting has grown a bit since then.)

However, just because voters want the option to vote absentee doesn’t mean they’ll actually do it. The ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that 59 percent of Americans would prefer to vote in person in this year’s election, while 38 percent would prefer to vote by mail.1 And there were stark differences along demographic lines, which could put heightened stress on our democracy this November.

For instance, Republican respondents told ABC News/The Washington Post that they preferred to vote in person, 79 percent to 20 percent. But Democratic respondents preferred to vote by mail, 51 percent to 46 percent. That could mean that votes cast in person will skew toward Republicans this fall, while mail-in votes skew toward Democrats. And since in-person votes are typically reported first on election night, that could mean that initial results on Nov. 3 will be overly favorable to Trump — perhaps causing him to claim victory prematurely. But Biden could actually turn out to be the winner days after Election Day in this scenario, as mailed ballots are counted and Democratic votes are added to the till. This could cause a national crisis if Trump decries those late-counted ballots as fraudulent or if he refuses to concede.

In addition, the poll found that college-educated and wealthier voters were more comfortable voting by mail. Specifically, respondents with postgraduate degrees said they preferred voting by mail 54 percent to 44 percent; those with just a four-year college degree were split 49 percent to 49 percent. Respondents with less than four years of college said they preferred to vote in person, 59 percent to 37 percent, and respondents with a high school diploma or less opted for in-person voting 68 percent to 29 percent. As a result, underprivileged voters could be disproportionately affected if the pandemic forces the closure or consolidation of polling places this November, either putting them at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 while waiting in line or disenfranchising them altogether.

Other polling bites

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 60 percent of parents with schoolchildren wanted schools to wait to restart in-person classes, while only 34 percent wanted schools to reopen sooner. This preference was largely driven by parents of color, 91 percent of whom were worried that their child will catch COVID-19 if schools reopen. Only 55 percent of white parents shared that concern.A Morning Consult poll found that the vast majority of Americans — 72 percent — supported mandating face masks in public spaces in their state (and imposing penalties for those who refused to do so). Despite perceptions that wearing a mask has become a partisan issue, even Republicans supported the policy, 58 percent to 35 percent.According to another part of the ABC News/Washington Post poll, a record 69 percent of Americans said that they think white and nonwhite people do not receive equal treatment in the criminal justice system; only 26 percent said they do receive equal treatment. Black respondents have long held this view in ABC News/Washington Post polling, but for the first time, so did a majority of white people.As evidenced by the fact that Opening Day was yesterday (four months late), this year’s Major League Baseball season will look a little different from usual. Most obviously, the season will only have 60 games — down from the standard 162 — but it will still crown a World Series champion. According to Morning Consult, though, a plurality of fans think the 2020 champion deserves an asterisk. Forty-four percent of baseball fans said that winning the World Series in a shortened season will be less meaningful than winning after a full regular season, while 35 percent believed it would be just as meaningful. (In reality, a 60-game season isn’t that much worse at assessing a team’s true talent than a 162-game season — but neither is perfect.)

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 40.3 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 55.6 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -15.3 points). At this time last week, 40.3 percent approved and 55.6 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -15.2 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 41.0 percent and a disapproval rating of 55.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -14.3 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot, Democrats currently lead by 8.2 percentage points (49.4 percent to 41.2 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 8.3 points (49.0 percent to 40.7 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 8.2 points (48.7 percent to 40.5 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

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Republicans And Democrats See COVID-19 Very Differently. Is That Making People Sick?

Graphics by Anna Wiederkehr

Americans have changed their behavior in ways that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. Masks are an essential accessory. Social distancing is the norm. And even as states moved to reopen their economies in May and June, many Americans continued to think it was better for people to stay home.

But underneath that apparent consensus is a large — and growing — partisan divide. Even as cases and hospitalizations spike in red states that mostly escaped the early effects of the virus, Republicans and Democrats remain stubbornly split on the threat it poses. For instance, it was only in July that President Trump wore a mask in public for the first time. And perhaps thanks to Trump’s repeated downplaying of the threat that COVID-19 poses, Republicans are much less concerned than Democrats are about the virus.

On the one hand, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, Republicans have consistently been less likely than Democrats to say that they fear being hospitalized because of COVID-19 or that they might unknowingly spread the virus to others. But on the other hand, that partisan gap has widened significantly between April and June.

It’s hard to find a more extreme test of our tribal political attachments than the current pandemic, where Trump continues to downplay the risks of the virus in the face of near-universal opposition from medical experts. It also raises a thorny issue: In the midst of a pandemic, partisanship appears to be shaping people’s perceptions of their risk and personal behaviors — to the point that our divided politics actually affects our health. For Americans, that might mean that questions of whether to stay home, wear a mask or to see friends and family without social distancing are filtered through a partisan lens.

In other words, do our politics risk making us sick?

It’s pretty clear that at this point, Republicans’ and Democrats’ experiences of the pandemic have been steadily diverging for months. It’s much harder to say, though, what that means for transmission of the virus. Some surveys offer a glimmer of hope, suggesting that the partisan gaps in how people are actually behaving — whether they wear a mask, for example — are much narrower than the divides on questions about what they think the government should do in response to the virus or whether the worst is behind us. It’s possible, too, that some of the partisan divides we’re seeing now could start to narrow as outbreaks spiral out of control in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas.

These trends are cause for alarm among the small army of social scientists who have tried to figure out how Americans are responding to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic — from the conflicting signals they’ve received from Trump and other political leaders, to changing guidelines from public health experts.

“Some Republicans are much less freaked out by the virus than they were a few months ago,” said Marc Hetherington, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina who is tracking Americans’ perspectives of the coronavirus through a panel survey. “But things are changing so quickly — these new outbreaks could scare them and maybe some of that polarization disappears.”

That doesn’t mean the politicization of the virus isn’t having an impact, though. Take the political fighting around whether people should be required to wear masks or the timeline around when businesses should reopen. The virus is spiking in Georgia, with thousands of new cases each day, but the state’s Republican governor is suing the Democratic mayor of Atlanta over the city’s decision to revert to its most restrictive opening phase and mandate the wearing of masks. “The national conversation about how we behave during this pandemic has been so colored by the partisan divide that it’s becoming impossible to talk rationally about the risks we are and are not willing to tolerate,” said Dr. Sandro Galea, an epidemiologist and the dean of the Boston University School of Public Health who studies the politics of public health. “If both sides were pushed out of their corners, they would both have to concede quite a bit, and we’d frankly all be safer.”

Understanding how Americans are responding to the pandemic isn’t an easy task; there are essentially two methods at researchers’ disposal. The first is to use a survey. The second is to look at mobility trends, such as geolocation or credit card data, to see if people are actually behaving the way they say they are. And over the past few months, political scientists and economists have leaned on both methods to figure out how Americans are thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic and how that relates to their behavior. With the exception of a few studies conducted in late March and early April, when fear of the pandemic ground the economy to a complete halt, all of this research has uncovered an accelerating partisan divide, too.

For example, as early as March, a group of researchers found that Democrats in a large panel survey exhibited more worries than Republicans about the pandemic and were also likelier to embrace health behaviors like more frequent hand-washing or avoiding mass gatherings. The first round of Hetherington’s survey suggests a partisan divide in Americans’ support for some public health interventions, like widespread testing.

The problem with these surveys, of course, is that there’s no way to figure out, for example, whether someone who says they’re quarantining is actually doing so. So a number of other studies have tried to figure out what people were actually doing by using geolocation data to follow people’s movements. This research has found basically the same thing as the surveys: People in Republican-leaning counties, or counties that voted for Trump in 2016, didn’t reduce their activity as much as people in Democratic counties.

Another study that looked at individual-level smartphone data found a similar pattern. And one team of researchers examined both survey data and geolocation data and determined that the trend held up for both — people in more Republican areas were less likely to feel at risk because of COVID-19, and they were also less likely to stay at home.

But this mobility data has its own limitations, according to Rebecca Katz, a professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. It can only tell you whether people are leaving their homes, not where they’re going or whether they’re taking precautions. “We’re all using this data because it’s the data we have, but it’s imperfect,” she said. “Sometimes, I pack my kids in a car and we just drive for a little while so we can get out of the house — by my cell phone, we’re moving. But that doesn’t tell someone looking at that data if we are interacting with other people, or if we’re wearing masks.”

Geography is another confounding factor; people in rural areas are more likely to drive places, even if they’re otherwise following public health guidelines, and less densely populated parts of the country were also less hard hit by the virus in the beginning. The problem is that Republicans are more likely to live in those parts of the country — and the effects of political segregation and the virus’s trajectory are very difficult to untangle, especially for studies that were conducted a month or two into the pandemic.

The partisan split was hard to deny, though, so early on, a couple of research teams tried to figure out why Republicans and Democrats were responding to the pandemic differently. Two usual culprits — politicians and the media — emerged as possible factors in the divide.

One study conducted from late February through the end of March found that the partisan divide on risk perception and health behavior only narrowed after the White House issued federal social distancing guidelines, suggesting that Trump’s role as a national Republican leader could be quite significant. Several other studies dug into the impact of cable TV, with one survey finding that an MSNBC viewer’s response to the pandemic was quite different than that of a Fox News watcher. Another study focused only on the impact of Fox News and concluded that an increase in viewership did appear to result in less social distancing. The evidence for the effects of politicians and differing media sources is less robust because there aren’t as many studies, but it does suggest that even when there are serious health risks at stake, how both talk about the virus and the public health response may affect the way people behave.

Shana Gadarian, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who is helping to conduct one of the panel surveys, said she was surprised to see such enormous divides emerge as the pandemic wore on. According to other research she’s conducted, moments of extreme anxiety and uncertainty can actually make people more open to new sources of information — including public health experts and leaders from the opposing party. So at the beginning of the pandemic, she and her team expected that Americans would coalesce around public health experts’ recommendations, or that other demographic factors — like age — would turn into key dividing lines.

Scientists and doctors do still enjoy a high level of trust from most Americans, as Maggie Koerth wrote for FiveThirtyEight in May. But that doesn’t mean they are entirely immune to the winds of partisanship — for example, Democrats are likelier than Republicans to trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Crucially, though, big divides haven’t emerged everywhere. According to the latest wave of the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group, conducted between July 2 to 8, the vast majority (88 percent) of Republicans said they wore a mask when going out in public, even though Republicans in greater numbers have said in other surveys that the government shouldn’t require people to wear masks. And according to Robert Griffin, research director of the Voter Study Group, that’s significantly higher than in any wave of the weekly data going back to May 28. There was more of a partisan gap in responses to other questions about coronavirus-related behavior, although it was still fairly modest.

So are these partisan splits actually driving the spread of the virus?

As it turns out, it’s hard to prove that Republicans’ resistance to mask mandates or social distancing is actually worsening the pandemic. One reason is that political scientists and economists don’t feel equipped to take on the epidemiological modeling that would be necessary to measure what, say, a partisan divide on hand-washing actually means for the spread of the disease. Yael Hochberg, an economist at Rice University, said that the lack of uniformity in testing data made her reluctant to wade into the public health data. “There are places where testing still isn’t widely available,” Hochberg said. “And if testing isn’t uniform, it’s hard to compare what you’re seeing in one county versus another.”

One study tried to pin down the effect of differing levels of compliance with social distancing policies among Republicans and Democrats using individual geolocation data. It concluded that a Trump voter who contracts COVID-19 infects 16 percent more people than a comparable Clinton voter. That’s a striking finding — but it’s also only one study, and several infectious disease experts who reviewed the paper at my request were a little skeptical of its conclusions.

Samuel Scarpino, a professor at Northeastern University who studies infectious diseases, said that it can be very difficult, even in a sophisticated model, to separate all of the confounding factors that could be at play, like geography. And Katz said that without information about whether people are wearing masks or engaging in social distancing, it’s hard to draw very solid conclusions about transmission from mobility data.

Scarpino was quick to add, though, that polarization can still be a serious problem, even if it’s hard to quantify its precise impact. “If politicians’ messaging is making people feel like they’re safe from COVID, those are people who are unnecessarily being put at risk,” he said. He’s also concerned that public health experts’ credibility will erode as certain health behaviors, like mask-wearing or social distancing, become associated with one party or another. “We’re kind of building the airplane as we fly it and we need to be able to change course when we get new evidence,” he said. “But it becomes harder to have those conversations and get buy-in from the public as the whole process becomes more politicized.”

There’s danger in exaggerating the extent of the partisan divide, though. Galea told me that he’s been struck by the fact that so many Americans — including nearly all Republicans — report they are going along with health experts’ recommendations, like wearing masks, at least to some degree. And it would be a mistake, Galea said, to gloss over this unusual level of partisan unity, because it’s a sign that health behaviors aren’t as divisive as they could be, given the strength of partisan loyalties.

“Nobody should ignore the fact that people on the political extremes are embracing polarizing positions on health behavior that should not be polarized,” Galea said. “But I think the evidence we have indicates that most people have tried to be responsible and adopt the recommended behaviors, even at a time of immense polarization and confusion and discomfort.”

That said, he still thinks some politicians — and in particular, Trump — need to do more to get on the same page as public health experts. “It’s not that politics is making it impossible to implement these health behaviors, because we see that many ordinary people are getting on board regardless of what political leadership is saying,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we should give politicians a pass for turning these serious, serious health conversations into a political football, because that is very much to our detriment.”

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How Can A Senator Vote With Trump The Majority Of The Time And Still Be A Moderate?

A number of GOP senators — especially those from states that backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 — are in competitive reelection fights in 2020, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine. In their campaign pitches, these senators have been presenting themselves as moderates worthy of representing moderate states, using words and phrases like “bipartisan,” “building consensus” and “both sides of the aisle.”

But just how moderate are Gardner and Collins anyway?

That question is surprisingly difficult to answer, as it really depends on what senatorial behavior is being examined. That is, someone like Gardner can both vote with President Trump on nearly all major issues and still be one of the three most bipartisan members of the Senate. The same is true of Collins. At the risk of getting a little bit wonky, I want to dig into three of the most commonly used metrics for measuring a senator’s ideology to show you how each of them can be spun.

Let’s first start with a metric that FiveThirtyEight has developed, the Trump score, or how often a senator or representative votes in line with what Trump wants. According to this metric, Collins has voted with Trump 67 percent of the time in the past three and a half years, while Gardner has done so 89 percent of the time. This is one of the easier metrics to grasp, and if you don’t like Trump, someone who does what he wants two times out of three — or nine times out of ten — doesn’t sound so great.

But what do these scores actually tell us?

For starters, the president is not a member of the Senate. So one limitation of this metric is that it can’t determine whether a senator agrees with the president unless the president announces his preferences on a bill. And that’s a fairly big caveat, because more often than not, presidents don’t publicly state an opinion on individual bills.1 What’s more, the bills the White House does weigh in on aren’t a random sample of all bills that reach the Senate floor. Typically, the president supports bills that are a priority for him or for his party — in other words, they’re usually bills his party largely agrees on. And bills the president doesn’t like often don’t reach the Senate floor for a vote anyway, since Republicans control the chamber.

That means we would expect agreement with the president to be pretty high among members of his party. And as the chart below shows, most Republican senators agree with Trump most of the time; all but four vote with Trump at least 80 percent of the time. Even someone like Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to remove the president from office just a few months ago, still votes with Trump 81 percent of the time. Collins’s 67 percent is the lowest Trump score among GOP senators. Gardner’s 89 percent is just below the median score of 92.

But is how often a senator votes with Trump a good measure of his or her overall ideology? Only sort of. On the one hand, the measure does seem to do an OK job of identifying more moderate Republicans like Collins or Sen. Lisa Murkowski, but on the other hand, it isn’t very good at identifying other ideological splits in the party. Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, for example, have something of a libertarian bent, but their Trump scores are similar to those of Collins and Murkowski, who are moderates.

We know about these shortcomings thanks to one of political science’s most widely accepted measures of legislator ideology: DW-Nominate scores, which are compiled for each member of Congress from every roll call vote cast in a legislative session. Of course, these scores aren’t perfect either, as they’re heavily influenced by which bills actually get to the floor and which don’t, but they’re still useful for helping us distinguish conservatives from liberals from moderates.

For instance, if we compare Republican senators’ Trump scores to their DW-Nominate scores, we find that nearly all Republicans back Trump’s agenda to some extent, so there isn’t much difference between the two scores for most GOP senators. However, DW-Nominate shows us that there are two types of Republicans who buck the mainstream of the party: relative moderates like Collins and libertarian conservatives like Paul.

But this still doesn’t tell us very much about senators’ claims to bipartisanship, or how someone like Gardner — who is a mainstream conservative according to both his Trump score and his DW-Nominate score — can be called one of the chamber’s most bipartisan senators. This is where our third metric for understanding senators’ behavior comes in: The Bipartisan Index, calculated by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, tells us how often a senator cosponsors a bill with a member of the other party. Notably, this index isn’t based on a senator’s voting record.

That doesn’t mean the metric isn’t influenced by a senator’s moderation or conservativism, though. I plotted GOP senators’ bipartisan index scores against their DW-Nominate scores in the chart below, and although I did find a strong relationship between more moderate members co-sponsoring more cross-party bills (see Collins, who by and large leads on this metric), that wasn’t true of every Republican: Senators like Gardner and Rob Portman cosponsored bills across party lines more often than their voting record would suggest.

Gardner, for instance, has co-sponsored a bill by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that aims to protect veterans who work in the marijuana industry (obviously important to Gardner’s Colorado constituents as marijuana is legal there) as well as a number of bills authored by his fellow Coloradan, Sen. Michael Bennet, this session. He’s even joined Collins and many others in co-sponsoring Democratic Sen. Ed Markey’s bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

But how much does this metric really speak to Gardner’s or Collins’s bipartisan track record? Many of these co-sponsorships are largely symbolic: Most Democrat-authored bills are not going anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate right now, and Gardner and Collins know that. So senators risk very little by attaching their names to such measures, and they get to claim bipartisan records regardless of their actual voting behavior. In the case of Gardner and Collins, they probably hope these gestures across the aisle will help them in their reelection battles.

To be clear, though, when senators like Collins or Gardner say they have a strong record of being moderate or bipartisan while critics say they still usually vote with Trump, neither group is wrong. They’re just examining different aspects of lawmakers’ behavior. And as you’ve hopefully learned from this article, there are quite a few ways to measure ideology.

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2 Chinese Spies Charged for Hacking Sensitive COVID-19 Research

Two Chinese nationals have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for a decade-long spying and intelligence-stealing operation. The indictment claims Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi stole data from large tech companies in different countries, including the U.S. for years, and recently attempted to steal information on coronavirus vaccine developments from U.S. companies.

WATCH: The Justice Dept. accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets and targeting firms developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re not just indicting them for their criminal activity,” Asst. AG John Demers told @nickschifrin, but also their activity “on behalf of” China. pic.twitter.com/KGoD1BfKMw

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) July 21, 2020

Firms in Maryland, Massachusetts, and California working on vaccines were targeted by the Chinese spies, as reported by Tech Crunch.

The pair hacked a Department of Energy network in Washington state, leading to their discovery by U.S. officials. Using different holes in software and password-stealing viruses, they dove deep into company and government databases, collecting secrets and data worth millions of dollars, according to the indictment.

Important U.S. military information was accessed as well.

“Li and Dong stole information regarding military satellite programs; military wireless networks and communications systems; high powered microwave and laser systems; a counter-chemical weapons system; and…helicopter integration systems,” reads the indictment.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said to Tech Crunch “that the indictments were ‘concrete examples’ of how China used hackers to ‘rob, replicate and replace’ non-Chinese companies in the global marketplace.”

The pair is reportedly in mainland China currently, so the indictments may lead to little action, according to reports.

The disturbing news comes as the topic of China heats up on the campaign trail. Vice President Mike Pence recently said “Biden Pretends To Be Tough On China.”

The post Two Chinese Spies Charged for Hacking Sensitive COVID-19 Research appeared first on Sara A. Carter.

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Judicial Watch Sues FBI, DOJ, DNI for Records On Obama WH Fulfilling On Flynn

>A government watchdog group announced Tuesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI, Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for documents and records related to a meeting in early January, 2017 attended by President Barack Obama, along with other senior Obama officials, regarding Michael Flynn.

Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has been battling the DOJ and FBI for years for documentation on the FBI’s now debunked investigation into President Trump’s campaign and Russia, requested that the government provide all records regarding the Oval Office meeting on Jan. 5, 2017. The meeting was also referenced in an email that former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice sent to herself on that same day. Rice stressed in that email that President Obama wanted everything done by the book, which was a highly unusual as it raised many questions with lawmakers as to why she sent the email to herself in the first place.

“Obama’s infamous January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting is a key moment in the corrupt effort to smear and spy on President Trump and target General Flynn with a malicious prosecution,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. “Rather than delay and stonewall, it is urgent the FBI, DOJ, ODNI release all records about this malicious, seditious conspiracy.”

During that meeting in the White House then Obama, Rice, former Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper allegedly discussed Flynn, as well as the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Years long investigations by Congress, the DOJ Inspector General and journalists revealed that Steele’s dossier was filled with false information, as well as disinformation planted by Russia’s GRU to sow chaos in the United States 2016 election.

The dossier was also paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee, which commissioned a pseudo research firm Fusion GPS to hire Steele. Moreover, the research firm, along with Steele, leaked the false information on Trump and his campaign through main stream media outlets.

Judicial Watch stated in their press release that “at least two records describing the meeting – a January 20, 2017, memo Rice sent to herself and a set of notes taken by FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok – have been declassified and made public. Sally Yates also detailed the meeting to Robert Mueller’s investigation.”

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the DOJ, FBI, and ODNI failed to respond to identical May 20, 2020, FOIA requests for:

All records regarding the January 5, 2017, meeting at the White House between former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director James Comey, President Obama, and others. This request includes all records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to the meeting, as well as any and all related records of communication between any official or representative of the Department of Justice and any other individual.The meeting took place just two weeks prior to Trump’s inauguration. Judicial Watch last week released mails between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page which included a frantic exchange between top bureau officials in the days prior to and following Trump’s inauguration discussing a White House counterintelligence briefing that could “play into” the FBI’s “investigative strategy.”

In May 2020, Judicial Watch received the “electronic communication” (EC) that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation, termed “Crossfire Hurricane,” of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The document was written by Strzok.

The post Judicial Watch Sues FBI, DOJ, DNI for Records On Obama WH Meeting On Flynn appeared first on Sara A. Carter.