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Sen. Pat Toomey to retire from politics in blow to GOP – POLITICO

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Republican Sen. Pat Toomey formally announced Monday he will neither run for reelection nor run for governor in 2022, a major blow to Republicans’ long-term plans of competing statewide in Pennsylvania.

Toomey explained the curious timing of his announcement as a reaction to all the inquiries he’d received about running for either the governor’s office or reelection. The two-term fiscal conservative said he decided within the past few days to bow out of politics and head to the private sector and decided to disclose his plans in the middle of the 2020 presidential campaign because he wanted to be transparent.

“I’ve made a decision, it’s not going to change, and I want everybody to know,” Toomey said. He informed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before his announcement, according to a source briefed on the conversation. The news leaked out Sunday, and was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer and confirmed by POLITICO.

Toomey said he supports President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and would be open to serving as a surrogate and campaigning for a president whom he didn’t endorse until Election Day in 2016: “I hope to be serving these last two years with President Donald Trump reelected. I support his campaign, I support his reelection.”

He also said he is “cautiously optimistic” his party would retain its majority at the ballot box this fall amid a fierce battle for the Senate, which would make him Senate Banking Committee chair for his last two years.

Toomey is the only statewide elected Republican politician in office in the Keystone State, though it remains a presidential battleground and top target for both parties. Trump, however, is trailing in the state by significant margins and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was easily reelected in 2018, suggesting a tough road ahead for Republicans winning statewide.

The two-term senator and former House member asserted that “if I decided to run I would have won again.” Toomey defeated Democrat Katie McGinty in 2016 by 1.5 percentage points, a victory that helped provide McConnell’s six-year majority that he’s now in danger of losing. He said the realization that he will have spent 18 of 24 years as a politician drove his decision to return to the private sector.

Toomey’s move also puts Republicans at an immediate disadvantage as they survey the 2022 Senate landscape.

Pickup opportunities for the GOP may be limited to Democratic-leaning states like New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada as well as whoever wins this year’s Arizona Senate election. By contrast, Republicans will have have to defend Toomey’s seat as well as seats held by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Burr has already announced he will retire.

And while Toomey’s retirement is a loss for the Republican Party, it also will leave a void in the Senate, where Toomey remains something of an outlier. Though a die-hard fiscal conservative, Toomey occasionally broke with his party. He is one of just two Senate Republicans still serving that supports expanded background checks on gun sales and is the only member of his conference to oppose Trump’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

His responses to reporters in the Senate hallways are often curt as he dashes from his office to the Senate floor, but he’s also been among the most willing Republicans to criticize Trump, sometimes mildly and other times with gusto. Toomey loathes many of Trump’s tariffs and trade policies, voted to block Trump’s national emergency declaration at the border and said “commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake.”

Toomey also called Trump’s actions during his impeachment trial “inappropriate,” though he voted to acquit the president. But though he’s clearly not entirely comfortable with the style of the brash president, Toomey said Trump’s conduct had no bearing on his own decision-making.

“I decided early on I am not responsible for the president’s Twitter feed, I am not responsible for editing his comments in any given medium. I work with this president on a regular basis, it’s a very constructive relationship,” Toomey told reporters. “When I’ve disagreed with him, which I have, I haven’t been bashful about saying so. But that has nothing to do with this decision.”

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The Real Divide in America Is Between Political Junkies and Everyone Else – The New York Times

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The common view of American politics today is of a clamorous divide between Democrats and Republicans, an unyielding, inevitable clash of harsh partisan polarization.

But that focus obscures another, enormous gulf — the gap between those who follow politics closely and those who don’t. Call it the “attention divide.”

What we found is that most Americans — upward of 80 percent to 85 percent — follow politics casually or not at all. Just 15 percent to 20 percent follow it closely (the people we call “deeply involved”): the group of people who monitor everything from covfefe to the politics of “Cuties.”

At the start of the year (i.e., pre-pandemic), we asked people to name the two most important issues facing the country. As expected, we found some clear partisan divides: For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite illegal immigration as an important issue.

But on a number of other issues, we found that Americans fall much less neatly into partisan camps. For example, Democrats and Republicans who don’t follow politics closely believe that low hourly wages are one of the most important problems facing the country. But for hard partisans, the issue barely registers.

Partisan Republicans were most likely to say drug abuse was the most important problem facing the country. But less-attentive Republicans ranked it second to last, and they were also concerned about the deficit and divisions between Democrats and Republicans.

Among Democrats, the political junkies think the influence of wealthy donors and interest groups is an urgent problems. But less-attentive Democrats are 25 percentage points more likely to name moral decline as an important problem facing the country — a problem partisan Democrats never even mention.

These gaps extend beyond issues to feelings about the other party. Hard partisans are twice as likely as people who pay less attention to politics to say that they would be unhappy if their child married someone of the opposing party.

Hard partisans are also more likely to speak out about these political likes and dislikes. Almost 45 percent of people who are deeply involved say they frequently share their views on social media — in some cases, daily. It’s only 11 percent for those without a politics habit. To put this in perspective, a Pew study finds that 10 percent of Twitter users are responsible for 97 percent of all tweets about politics.

This gap between the politically indifferent and hard, loud partisans exacerbates the perception of a hopeless division in American politics because it is the partisans who define what it means to engage in politics. When a Democrat imagines a Republican, she is not imagining a co-worker who mostly posts cat pictures and happens to vote differently; she is more likely imagining a co-worker she had to mute on Facebook because the Trump posts became too hard to bear.

We see this effect in a study we did with three other political scientists, James Druckman, Samara Klar and Matthew Levendusky. We asked a group of over 3,000 Americans to describe either themselves or members of the other party. Only 27 percent of these people said that they discuss politics frequently; a majority consider themselves moderates. But nearly 70 percent of these people believe that a typical member of the other party talks about politics incessantly and is definitely not moderate.

For partisans, politics is a morality play, a struggle of good versus evil. But most Americans just see two angry groups of people bickering over issues that may not always seem pressing or important.

How can politics better match the opinions of a majority of Americans? The fact is, it’s not an easy problem to solve. We can try to give the hardened partisans less voice in the news. Featuring people who exemplify partisan conflict and extremist ideas elevates their presence in politics (though of course by definition, it is the partisans who are most closely watching the news who are also most likely to give their opinions). This is particularly true of social media: What a vocal minority shares on social media is not the opinion of the public. Yet such political tweets, as the political communication scholar Shannon McGregor finds, are increasingly making their way into news coverage as stand-ins for public opinion.

There might be an advantage for politicians who focus less on the demands of partisans and more on tangible issues. Yes, hard partisans are more likely to reward ideological victories, but they are also a minority of the electorate.

Each day, partisan Democrats wonder whether that day’s “outrage” will finally change how people feel about President Trump. Partisan Republicans wonder the same thing about Joe Biden. But most “regular” voters are not paying that much attention to the daily onslaught. It turns them off.

And the major scandals that do break through? Well, to many of them, that is “just politics.”

Yanna Krupnikov (@ykrupnikov) and John Barry Ryan (@ryanbq), associate professors of political science at Stony Brook University, are the authors of a forthcoming book about polarization and disengagement in American politics.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

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La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre retires from politics – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Article content continued

I knew what I was getting into, minus COVID-19. I’ve had some personal impacts when it comes to tragedies. Strong support from council and the community’s belief in my leadership helped us get through those moments. Without those supports, and of course the support of my family, it’s very challenging.

When I proceeded to become the mayor of La Loche, I thought I’d be able to step up to the plate and do what I needed to do. I think I was successful considering all the challenges that came my way during that time. Having good staff is (also) key to any successful leadership.

Healing, as individuals and as a community, was a common theme during your term. How is La Loche doing in that process?

We’re still struggling with a lot. There’s a lot of mental health capacity we need to work with and individuals and families that were directly impacted by that incident, and the community as a whole.

But with COVID-19 coming into the community, isolated people weren’t allowed to visit. (It was a challenge) putting on those measures and restrictions in the community, especially when we hit the pandemic and the numbers started to soar.

All those have an impact on an individual’s psyche. Getting those measures put in place, and getting some of these mental health positions filled to support individuals is going to be paramount in the years to come.

What went into La Loche’s COVID-19 response and how it affected residents there?

A lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of time. I was on the phone from 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. each day. … Everything has to be clear to point where we can relay those messages to the community.

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Politics Podcast: Why Biden’s Lead Is Different – FiveThirtyEight

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According to our forecast, Democrats have a 72 percent chance of winning a trifecta — that is, controlling the presidency, the House and the Senate. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses what policies the party would prioritize in such a scenario and what divisions might emerge. They also compare Joe Biden’s position now with Hillary Clinton’s in 2016 and explain what’s similar (and what’s different) about their circumstances.

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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