Six months before the November election, President Trump has fallen behind among a group central to his victory in 2016 — voters 65 and older.
Trump’s significant deficit among seniors shows up in poll after poll, nationwide and in key states, including surveys done by nonpartisan groups and by pollsters in both parties.
The problem predates the intense public focus on the coronavirus, but Trump’s erratic response to the crisis has probably worsened it, strategists in both parties say.
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Trump’s deficit with seniors forms a key reason that former Vice President Joe Biden leads in polls of the presidential race, both nationally and in battleground states. For now, Biden’s advantage among voters in his and Trump’s age bracket more than makes up for the tepid support he gets from potential voters younger than 30.
Before taking a closer look, let’s set out one important caveat: Polls are snapshots of the moment, not predictions, as Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, notes.
“While it may be true that Biden is holding an advantage among 65+ voters now,” he wrote, “it may not be true come Election Day.”
Sensing a leadership deficit
In his 2016 victory, Trump won voters 65 and older nationwide by nine percentage points, 53% to 44%, according to the Pew Research Institute’s detailed, post-election study of voters, which provides the most reliable demographic data.
Today, that’s reversed. Instead of a nine-point lead among seniors, Trump now has a similar deficit in many polls.
That’s critical because seniors made up slightly more than a quarter of the electorate nationwide in 2016, Pew found. Their support was key to Trump’s victory in each of the major battleground states.
The blue-collar white voters who make up the bulk of Trump’s support are primarily an older group — younger whites are far more likely to have gone to college and less likely to support the president.
One striking example of the deficit Trump faces came this week from Florida — a state that is a must-win for the president. In 2016, the exit poll in that state showed Trump winning voters 65 and older by 17 points, providing a central part of his victory.
This week, Quinnipiac’s poll of Florida voters showed Trump trailing Biden among voters 65 and older by 10 points. If that held up until election day, it would be “devastating” for Trump in that state, said Schwartz.
“I have a hard time seeing how he would win Florida” while losing seniors like that, Schwartz said. His poll showed Trump currently slightly behind Biden in the state, 46%-42%.
Odds are that Biden won’t win Florida’s seniors by as large a margin as current polls show. Races tend to tighten as election day nears because a substantial number of voters usually move back to their accustomed corners.
But Biden may have a cushion to work with: The same polls that show him winning among voters 65 and older also show a fair amount of apathy among Americans younger than 30.
That Biden weakness among young voters is in some ways a mirror image of Trump’s deficit among seniors. But Biden’s problem may be easier to deal with.
In part, Biden’s problem with younger voters is a hangover from the primary campaign, in which younger Democrats heavily backed Sen. Bernie Sanders. Over time, those sorts of intra-party disputes tend to fade.
More importantly, in dealing with young people, Biden is pushing on an open door: The audience has already largely decided against Trump, and the task for Democrats is to convince them to vote.
As the annual Youth Poll conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics showed this week, by roughly 2 to 1, Americans ages 18 to 29 say Trump’s presidency has made their lives worse.
In dealing with seniors, by contrast, Trump faces the harder task of both persuading them and motivating them.
The size of the hole Trump has to dig out of could be seen in a series of polls that gave his campaign troubling news this week. Among others, Fox News showed Trump trailing Pennsylvania by 50%-42%, Michigan 49%-41% and Florida 46%-43%. The Ipsos polling organization, which does surveys for Reuters news agency and other clients, showed Trump trailing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University poll, said one possible explanation “is that a sizable chunk of these senior voters, who have seen a lot more politics over the years and can compare to prior administrations, feel there has been a lot more chaos in D.C. than they bargained for when they backed Trump in 2016, and they just want some normalcy in the White House.”
That’s a view widely shared by other pollsters and political strategists.
A key part of the problem for Trump appears to be older women, said Linda DiVall, a veteran Republican consultant, who believes Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis has worsened his problem with those voters.
“They know how this country responded” to crises earlier in their lives and “the leadership that was provided” by previous presidents. “They expect to see the same thing happen today. They find that missing at the federal level,” she said.
Trump’s insistence on holding forth in his lengthy, daily televised briefings has been “disastrous,” DiVall said. And his repeated advocacy of a rapid easing of social-distancing restrictions may be particularly unsettling for a group that “knows they’re most at risk.”
While six months is more than enough time to turn around public opinion, Trump “has got to show steady leadership” and do so soon, she said.
“With these senior women, the longer they go … the more alarming it may be.”
There’s no big secret about how Trump’s campaign hopes to make up that deficit; they’ve clearly signaled their plan to relentlessly attack Biden’s record and character, in hopes of making the election a referendum on him.
That’s pretty much what worked for Trump against Hillary Clinton in 2016, but is a harder task for a sitting president to pull off, said Mark Mellman, a longtime Democratic pollster and strategist. Reelection campaigns are almost always referendums on the incumbent, Mellman noted, and currently Trump is losing that contest, especially among seniors.
Older voters have an image in their minds of what it looks like for a president to respond to a crisis, Mellman said. To many of them, “Trump’s demeanor, his manner seems inappropriate to a president.”
That might not have mattered as much in good times, but “when people are fearful, they move to stability,” he said. “Trump represents chaos.”
Biden’s Latino problem
While Trump has a problem with seniors, Biden has a problem with Latinos, as Janet Hook writes. Latino voters tend to be young, many supported Sanders, and many are also blue-collar workers who tune into political debate late in the season.
Right now, as Hook reported, they’re not hearing much from Biden — part of a broader problem he’s having getting attention in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
Another half a trillion dollars
The House on Thursday gave final approval to the latest measure to bolster the economy from the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis, approving nearly half a trillion dollars in additional spending. As Sarah Wire and Jennifer Haberkorn reported, the bill includes expanded small-business loan funding, plus $75 billion in money for hospitals and $25 billion to pay for contact tracing and testing.
All told, Congress has approved about $2.5 trillion in new spending so far, and members on both sides expect additional legislation in May, although the two sides are far apart on what to include.
Along the way this week, Democrats scrapped a plan to approve a historic rule change to allow remote voting in the House. After objections from Republicans, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said she would set up a bipartisan panel to examine how the House can work without summoning members back to Washington during the pandemic, Haberkorn reported.
Amid the controversy over how quickly to reopen the economy, Don Lee examined the debate over what’s more costly in both lives and dollars — opening quickly or staying shut longer?
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Using the coronavirus crisis for cover
Trump turned to a campaign staple this week — issuing an order restricting immigration that he said was necessitated by the economic crisis. As Molly O’Toole and Noah Bierman wrote, the immigration order has more to do with politics than economics.
It came after a couple of days of widespread confusion as Trump announced one policy by tweet, then announced a somewhat different one at the White House podium, only to release an order that didn’t do what he said he was going to do.
On immigration and other issues, Trump is using the coronavirus crisis to push other policies that administration officials have sought, Bierman and Chris Megerian wrote. The immigration order adopts part of the wish list of White House aide Stephen Miller. Other moves promote deregulatory efforts sought by administration officials.
At the same time, the administration has been retaliating against dissent. David Cloud and Melissa Healy reported that a government scientist felt pressured to approve a $21 million contract for a Florida lab to do research on an anti-malaria drug Trump had touted. The scientist was later pushed out of his senior position.
Continued problems with supplies
The U.S. lags behind in a global race for coronavirus supplies from China, Noam Levey and Lee reported.
China is the world’s biggest maker of surgical masks and other protective equipment. Other countries have done better in securing supplies. In part, that’s because the U.S. was slower to get into the game, business leaders in both countries said. In part the problem has also been a confused, decentralized effort.
Flareups in the Middle East
Are Trump and Iran moving toward confrontation again? Tracy Wilkinson looked at the latest maneuvering, which has once again increased tensions after a period of relative calm.
A win for environmental groups
The Supreme Court ruled in a major case involving water pollution this week, and the 6-3 decision that beaches can be protected from sewage that flows underground provided a victory for environmental groups, David Savage reported.
The Trump administration had sided with the government of Maui County in Hawaii in pushing for a narrow reading of the Clean Water Act that would have prevented environmentalists from going to court to force local governments and businesses to clean up pollution of groundwater.
Stay in touch
Politics This Morning: Canada slowing COVID-19 infection rate, but threat remains as restrictions ease, says Tam – The Hill Times
Good Friday morning,
Fresh figures from federal public health officials showed that Quebec and Ontario account for more than 90 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 caseload. The latest projections, released yesterday, suggested that Canada could see between 97,990 to 107,454 cases by June 15.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said while Canada has made progress in curbing the infection rate and controlling the spread of the epidemic, the threat hasn’t fully abated, as there is still no vaccine for the virus.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott has been tapped by Ontario to advise it in its efforts to collect racial and socioeconomic data during the pandemic. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Ms. Philpott said her job will be to bring together “huge amounts of information” that have been siloed. Such data, she said, will be useful in improving the government’s research efforts and response to medical care. Her position is unpaid.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted not to comment on the release of a video that shows an RCMP officer hitting an Inuit man with his truck in Kinngait. The chief superintendent of the Nunavut RCMP has called for an investigation into the incident. According to the Globe, the victim was arrested for public intoxication, but was not charged. Mr. Trudeau reiterated comments he made earlier this week, acknowledging the existence of systemic racism amid the ongoing protests against police violence, triggered in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.
As anti-racism and police brutality protests show no signs of waning, one activist and some Parliamentarians said that there’s growing recognition that it’s time to go beyond long-overdue “piecemeal reforms.”
Independent Senator Rosemary Moodie observed the protests, which are colliding with a deadly pandemic that’s disproportionately affecting racialized communities, are drawing out more allies. “Every race is out there on the streets, supporting the concerns of what’s happening,” Sen. Moodie said.
Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, who immigrated to Canada as a refugee from Somalia, told Toronto Star that the process for addressing systemic racism in Canada starts with amplifying the “voices of those who feel that sting of discrimination of racism as part of their lived reality,” who can define the scale of the issue. He said there’s also work to be done at the community level, by empowering groups who are front-line responders when incidents occur.
Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the government delayed the rollout of COVID funding for seniors to prevent fraud, which has been an issue flagged public servants in the processing of cheques through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program. The top-up in financial assistance to vulnerable seniors will arrive the week of July 6. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough sought to assure MPs the government intends to pore over cases where fraud might have occurred.
In scheduled events, the House Indigenous Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear from First Nations Tax Commission and the Inuit Business Council, among others, at 11 a.m. Happening simultaneously is the Government Operations Committee meeting, where industry officials and Coalition of Concerned Manufacturers and Businesses of Canada are slated to testify. The Industry Committee, meanwhile, is holding a hearing at 2 p.m. Witnesses include the Montreal Port Authority and Spartan Bioscience Inc.
The Hill Times
Politics Podcast: What History Can And Can’t Teach Us About Today’s Protests – FiveThirtyEight
It’s easy to compare today’s anti-police-violence protests to the protests of the 1960s, but those comparisons don’t paint a full picture. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, history professor Yohuru Williams joins Perry Bacon Jr. and Galen Druke to discuss which parallels are apt, how today’s protests are different, and what that says about where the movement is headed.
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 publishes 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.
The House's green surface bill runs into politics – Politico
Presented by Freight Rail Works
With help from Tanya Snyder and Brianna Gurciullo
Editor’s Note: Morning Transportation is a free version of POLITICO Pro Transportation’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.
— The House’s ambitious surface transportation bill released this week is already running into some problems, with some industry groups and Republicans crying foul over what they called a “partisan” process.
— Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stuck by the agency’s hands-off approach to regulating air travel during the pandemic in an interview with POLITICO.
— As part of an escalating row with China over airline access, DOT said it will ban Chinese flights from the U.S. later this month.
IT’S THURSDAY: Thanks for tuning in to POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Get in touch with tips, feedback or song lyric suggestions at [email protected] or @samjmintz.
LISTEN HERE: Follow MT’s playlist on Spotify. What better way to start your day than with songs (picked by us and readers) about roads, railways, rivers and runways.
LET THE SURFACE CIRCUS BEGIN: House Democrats’ climate-focused surface transportation reauthorization got skewered on Wednesday by Republicans and some industry groups, including those representing the rail industry and state transportation departments. GOP lawmakers accused House Transportation Chair Peter DeFazio of shutting out Republicans and unveiling a partisan bill that has an “extreme” environmental agenda. Some turned to the Senate’s version of the bill, which included a climate title for the first time but holds more modest goals than DeFazio’s proposal to discourage states from building new highways and include climate impacts in transportation plans.
Two weeks to work it out: DeFazio told reporters that Republicans left “very little room” for engagement on climate issues and Democrats crafted the bill according to their own priorities — and that they’d likely have no problem passing it in the House even without Republican votes. But before the July 1 floor vote comes the June 17 markup, and DeFazio said he scheduled a two-week window between the release of the bill text and the markup to make time for amendments and other input from Republicans. Tanya Snyder has all the details for Pros.
Guinea pig: The transportation bill markup will be a trial run for new House rules that allow the legislative process to go forward remotely, as our Connor O’Brien observed. He notes that the surface vote will happen before the defense authorization bill, and that T&I is a bigger committee than Armed Services.
NOT OUR JOB: Chao hit back at criticism over how her agency has handled regulating pandemic measures for airlines, calling questions about masks and social distancing “labor management” issues. “When the federal government gets involved, we tend to be much more heavy handed,” Chao said on Wednesday, while noting that her agency continues to “monitor” the situation.
Her comments, made during a virtual interview with POLITICO Playbook, earned a strong reaction from labor unions and workplace safety advocates. David Michaels, who was head of OSHA during the Obama administration, called it an “abdication of duty.” Labor unions for flight attendants and pilots, which have called for DOT to make health guidelines mandatory, were mad, too. “There’s a difference between heavy handed and just washing your hands of this critical responsibility,” said Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, calling DOT an “outlier” on safety.
An example of the patchwork: Delta Air Lines on Wednesday said it would keep preventing customers from picking middle seats and extend caps on seating through the end of September. “On routes where increasing customer demand is driving flight loads closer to our caps, we will look for opportunities to upsize to a larger aircraft type or add more flying,” the carrier said.
DOT FINALIZES SERVICE EXEMPTIONS: DOT issued a notice late Wednesday easing airlines’ service requirements that are a condition of receiving CARES Act aid. The final order, which is unchanged from a previously published preliminary order, says carriers can suspend service to either 5 percent of the points they cover, or five points, whichever is greater. “The Department believes that the process we are finalizing here strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of communities to maintain at least minimal access to the national air transportation system during the public health emergency, and the needs of carriers to conserve financial resources to weather this time of unprecedented loss of demand,” the agency wrote.
EYE FOR AN EYE: DOT announced on Wednesday that it plans to stop Chinese passenger carriers from flying into or out of the U.S. this month because China hadn’t taken steps to give Delta and United Airlines the OK to resume service to the country.
Move gets results: Shortly after, China said in a statement that it will ease its restrictions on foreign airlines flying into the country, according to Reuters. “Qualifying foreign carriers currently barred from operating flights to mainland China will be allowed once-per-week flights into a city of their choosing starting on June 8,” the story says. The number of flights can increase if no passengers on the incoming flights test positive for three weeks.
The DOT restriction, which would hit four Chinese airlines, is set to go into effect June 16. As our Brianna Gurciullo reports, DOT said its move would “restore a competitive balance and fair and equal opportunity among U.S. and Chinese air carriers in the scheduled passenger service marketplace.” The agency says its “overriding goal” is for airlines from both countries to “be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights.”
Calling all China watchers: The trajectory of the U.S.-China relationship will determine whether this century is judged a bright or a dismal one. POLITICO’s David Wertime is launching a new China newsletter that will be worth the read.
THE LOW LOWS: Airline fuel consumption hit its lowest point in at least 20 years in April, according to the new numbers from DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. There were 447 million gallons of fuel consumed that month, down from 1.5 billion the year before, a 70 percent drop.
FOR THE RECORD: After the New York Times reported this week that TSA officers had been “called out of the airports to help protect federal property” amid protests in the D.C. area over the death of George Floyd while in police custody, the agency made clear that those employees weren’t security screeners but rather law enforcement officers. “@TSA officers who interact with and screen passengers and their baggage at airports every day did not participate in responding to #BlackLivesMatter protests. Airport TSA officers are not law enforcement officials,” agency spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said in a tweet.
GOVERNING FROM HOME: In the interview with POLITICO, Chao also noted that while she expects the transportation world to return to normal relatively soon, there could be long-term changes to employers like hers that could stick around. “We’re going to see trends develop in telework,” Chao said. “Do we really need a building for 5,500 people [the size of DOT’s headquarters] when more and more people are feeling more comfortable teleworking … and video conferencing?”
— “Pakistani aviation authority says PIA pilot ignored air traffic control.” Reuters.
— “Full rollout for contactless payments in NYC subways delayed until December.” The Verge.
— “Former UAW president pleads guilty to embezzlement, racketeering charges.” Wall Street Journal.
— “VRE seating is now every other window seat.” WTOP.
— “Air Canada retires last Boeing 767 after 37 years.” The Points Guy.
DOT appropriations run out in 118 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 1,214 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 118 days.
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