The Crosstab Weekly Newsletter 📊 August 12, 2018

Which groups are shoring up the Democrats and Republicans for this year's midterms?

Welcome! I’m G. Elliott Morris. Happy Sunday! Here’s my weekly newsletter with links to what I’ve been reading and writing that puts the news in context with public opinion polls, political science, other data (some “big,” some small) and looks briefly at the week ahead. Let’s jump right in! Feedback? Drop me a line or just respond to this email. 

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One quick announcement:

I am working full time for The Economist in Washington, DC now! You can find my work here. I’ll soon be publishing a short blog post that discusses how I’ll operate my site and my newsletter moving forward, but rest assured that the content I generate and community I’ve come to love will continue living on. On to the data and politics!

Politics and Election Data

Americans Give Trump An 'A' For Economy, But Reelection Prospects Remain Uncertain

“If President Trump’s re-election prospects hinge on the success of his economic policies, his prospects for 2020 look pretty good right now, a new IBD/TIPP Poll suggests. Americans aren’t just more optimistic, but groups not known to be Trump-friendly in their politics are among the most optimistic of all.”  •  Share

Analysts trying to gauge the impact of a good economy on a Trump reelection bid have been struggling with the difference between those conditions and perceptions from voters for months. To put this in mathematical terms, past predictions of presidential elections have relied on a blend of economic perceptions and presidential approval that is stable over time, asserting that POTUS vote share = economic perceptions + job approval. For Trump, the unique disconnect between the two variables could force prediction based on them to break down, prompting skepticism that we really know what to expect in 2020. It could be that (1) economic perceptions do save Trump, that (2) even in a recession his base holds on so well that he could survive a horrible downturn, or (3) something else entirely. Here’s a tweet on this from NYU’s Patrick Egan:

Patrick Egan


Often lost in our focus on Trump's behavior is how steep a price he's paying for it in terms of public approval. Typically, presidential approval (blue) closely tracks consumer confidence (black). But right now, the gap between these trends is the highest it's been in 40 years.

8:35 AM - 6 Aug 2018

In fact, what’s likely a better measure of approval for Trump is voters’ stances on immigration policy:

Trump's iron wall of defense: immigration

“There’s an almost perfect match between President Trump’s approval ratings on immigration — including his overall policies and his proposed border wall — and his job approval rating, according to the latest Axios/SurveyMonkey poll of five voter groups’ views in the midterm elections.”  •  Share

Americans have grown to hate presidents of the other party 

Here’s how badly the country has fractured over President Trump: He has a near-universal approval among Republicans, while three in four Democrats want him impeached. But it’s not like the last few presidents united the country, either. The back story: It wasn’t always this way.  •  Share

*Clears throat* Partisanship is a hell of a drug

Chris Collins drops reelection bid after being arrested for insider trading

“New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who was arrested on insider trading charges this week, is suspending his re-election bid, he announced on Saturday.”  •  Share

The midterm election in #NY27 is still very much up-in-the-air, however. Many questions remain that will determine how November plays out: will New York’s antiquated election laws keep Collins’ name remain on the ballot, or will he and the state GOP be able to navigate their way out of a political emergency?

Republicans Underperform in Washington’s Top Two Primary

“Washington’s late-summer Top Two primary is often a bellwether for November results, and House GOP candidates, including incumbents Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler and warhorse Dino Rossi, all underperformed.”  •  Share

Because there is a strong relationship between primary and general election vote margins in Washington (shown below alongside results in California), Democrats’ strong performance on Tuesday indicate that they could make pickups in as many as three House seats.

Not only that, but the results can also be added to the pile of evidence that Republicans are not performing admirably in suburban areas, perhaps even losing ground over time.

Chris Vance


Wow. Cathy McMorris-Rogers is at 44% in Spokane County. Jaimie Herrera-Beutler is at 38% in Clark County. And Dino Rossi is at 39% in King County. R support in the suburbs is collapsing. @Jim_Brunner @NatalieBrandK5@AustinJenkinsN3 @BradShannon2 @reedgalen @jwgop

9:57 AM - 8 Aug 2018

The Ohio Results Point to Democratic Strength in 2018—And a Showdown in 2020

“The results in Ohio’s special House election Tuesday night reinforced the electoral trends that have driven American politics since Donald Trump’s election—and underscored the precarious political trade the president is imposing on his party.”  •  Share

Republicans got more bad news on Tuesday when they nearly lost an R+14 U.S. House seat in Ohio. The special election to Ohio’s 12th Congressional District was won by just 0.8 points by Republican Troy Balderson. Inside the district, urban counties swung to the left relative to the 2016 presidential election, while rural counties swung to the right. Here’s a graphic from Elena Schneider and Scott Bland (POLITICO) that shows this shift:

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds that 70% of voters think that President Trump’s criticism of news organizations on Twitter is inappropriate. 68% say that it is inappropriate to bar journalists from official press events and 53% agree with the statement “When the President is unhappy with the way some news media cover the Administration it is inappropriate to investigate whether the reporters have violated any laws.” On top of this, 18% of voters say that the press is an enemy of the American people, including 35% of Republicans and 4% of Democrats.

Tipping the Scales, How Small Groups in Each Party May Outweigh the Rest in the 2018 Midterm Elections 

“Outcomes of the midterm elections will be decided by swing voters, not the parties’ bases. A majority of the voters who changed their allegiances between 2012 and 2016 — ‘Obama-Trump’ and 'Romney-Clinton’ voters — are sticking with their new parties for the midterms.”  •  Share

Henry Olsen’s analysis is compelling, but I’d still prefer if studies that assess voter turnout match survey respondents to the official vote records provided by the states. This way we would actually know if moderate or low-attachment Democrats and Republicans are acting as they say they are. Self-reported vote turnout can often be misleading.

New Poll: 43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media

Freedom of the press may be guaranteed in the Constitution. But a plurality of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos and provided exclusively to The Daily Beast.  •  Share

MIT Election Lab


We are very proud to say that the 2016 #ElectionsPerformance Index is now live! Explore the data in its brand new home:

12:12 PM - 9 Aug 2018

Other Data and Cool Work

Far-flung Facebook friends may be good for your health

Far-flung Facebook friends may be good for your health

New research suggests that Americans with geographically concentrated online social networks score poorly on many socio-economic indicators  •  Share

Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?

The Premier League, which kicks off Friday afternoon, is often regarded as the most competitive league in the world, if not the best.  •  Share

America’s trade war is starting to hit consumers

America’s trade war is starting to hit consumers

WHEN economists gave warning earlier this year that Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported washing machines, solar panels and metals would push up prices for consumers and businesses, the White House was quick to dismiss the claims as “fake news”.  •  Share

What’s the Right Number of Taxis (or Uber or Lyft Cars) in a City? - The New York Times

Technology has made it easier to identify and manage the optimal supply, but it also depends on which problem you’re trying to solve.  •  Share

Flip, flip and flip some more

Challenge derived from FiveThirtyEight’s The Riddler.  •  Share

Russia leads the world at nuclear-reactor exports

Russia leads the world at nuclear-reactor exports

THE nuclear power industry, which had been in the doldrums since the 1980s, suffered a devastating blow in 2011 when a tsunami engulfed the Fukushima power plant in Japan, ultimately causing a meltdown.  •  Share

Two good and relevant XKCD comics this week, just for fun:

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