The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

A New Public Confidence That America Is Headed in the Right Direction?

A New Public Confidence That America Is Headed in the Right Direction?

It was a fact of life in the Obama years: when asked by pollsters, “Do you think the country is on the right track or headed in the wrong direction?” the answers were overwhelmingly negative. The “wrong direction” response could get anywhere from the mid-50s to the 70s; it even hit 80 percent a few times in the Rasmussen polls. The “right track” answer was as low as the teens, usually in the 20s, sometimes just above 30 percent.

On January 9, the Investors Business Daily/TIPP survey found 42 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction. A few weeks later, the same pollster found the “right track” respondents at 50 percent. Rasmussen’s last three polls had the “right track” respondents in the 40s.

This morning, the Morning Consult poll:

Overall, Americans’ are still in a much better mood than they were just after the election. Forty-one percent of voters said the country is headed in the right direction, compared with just 29 percent who felt that way immediately after the presidential election. That thinking appears to be reflected in Trump’s approval rating, which bettered by one over the previous week and remains in favorable territory: 49 percent approve vs. 44 percent disapprove.

Not every pollster is showing the same thing; the Reuters/Ipsos, Economist, and network polls show “right track” numbers in the 30s. This may reflect upon the young Trump presidency, or it may reflect the SportsCenter-highlight-level good performance of the stock markets in the past three months. One year ago today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 16,391.99. Yesterday it closed at 20,743 – up more than a quarter in a year.

Or it may simply reflect that one era is ending and a new era is beginning, and Americans are optimistic that what comes next will be better than what they just experienced.

You’re So Very Special, I Wish I Was Special

Earlier this month, I noted the five special U.S. House elections scheduled for this year will be a good test of whether there really is an energized liberal grassroots movement mobilizing that could be the equivalent of the Tea Party on the left, or whether we’re just seeing the same familiar activists in the same familiar places.

There have already been a handful special state legislative elections this year, and there’s been a pattern.

In January in Virginia, Republican Mark Peake won the special election in the 22nd Senate District around Lynchberg, a district that usually votes Republican.  The same night, Democrat Jennifer L. McClellan won in the 9th Senate District, which includes part of Richmond. This is a heavily-Democratic district; most years the Republicans don’t even field a candidate, and they didn’t field one in the special election. In Virginia’s 85th House District, which covers Virginia Beach, N.D. “Rocky” Holcomb III beat Cheryl Turpin, keeping the seat Republican and winning by about the same margin that his predecessor Scott Taylor won in 2013.

In other words, in three low-turnout special elections in Virginia so far this year, the political environment is pretty close to normal.

In Iowa, Democrat Monica Kurth won the special election in the 89th State House District with 72 percent. The previous incumbent, Jim Lykam, ran unopposed in 2016 and 2014 and won 67 percent in 2012.

In Minnesota, Republican Anne Neu won 53 percent in the House District 32B race, about what her GOP predecessor Bob Barrett had won.

Again, these results are pretty much “normal.” A writer at Daily Kos touts the fact that that these Democrat special election candidates ran ahead of Hillary Clinton’s margin these districts, but I’m not so sure that’s the right measuring stick. These state legislative candidates may be better on the campaign trail than Clinton – in fact, they probably are! – but they’re not generating significantly different results.

In Delaware, control over the state Senate will come down to one special election being held this Saturday. If the Democrats lose this race, Republicans would control the chamber for the first time in 44 years, and so they’re making extraordinary efforts for a special election.

The fight between Democrat Stephanie Hansen and Republican John Marino has been among the fiercest fought local elections in Delaware history. The election will decide not only who represents Middletown, Glasgow and southern Newark, but also whether the Democrats’ 44-year-old Senate majority comes to an end.

Democrats are poised to spend a record-shattering $1 million. Between Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, Hansen’s campaign raised $306,472 from hundreds of donors, both from inside Delaware and all over the country.

Political advisers say it usually costs about $50,000 to win a state Senate race or $100,000 for one that is particularly fierce.

In Delaware’s 10th State Senate District, the previous incumbent, Democrat Bethany Hall-Long, ran unopposed in 2012 and had a close race in 2014. Considering their institutional and financial advantages, Democrats should win this special election. If they don’t, it’s a sign that the much-touted grassroots anger at Donald Trump isn’t translating into votes when and where the party needs them.

Fred Thompson Warned Us What Russians Won’t Do Without a Plan

The New York Times discovers an effort based in Russia that is plotting to tear America apart.

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — This provincial Russian city, about 1,000 miles east of Moscow, is about as unlikely a place as any to find the leader of one of the more unlikely political causes to arise in opposition to President Trump. But Louis J. Marinelli, the 30-year-old English teacher who is the president of the Yes California movement, which seeks independence for the state, has decided to call it home.

Word of “Calexit,” a quixotic idea that has floated around California for years, spread on social media after the election of Mr. Trump in November. Even though it has virtually no chance of succeeding — it would require an amendment to the Constitution — it has gained some traction in the state. Several technology industry leaders have voiced their support, and a ballot measure is in the works for the 2018 election.

Now with renewed attention on the movement, Mr. Marinelli is under scrutiny for living in a country that many in the United States see as an adversarial power.

The Times also reports that “A Russian group, known as the Anti-Globalization Movement, which like Mr. Marinelli advocates the breakup of the United States, also offered him office space in Moscow to open an “embassy” of California in Russia, and Mr. Marinelli accepted” and “Marinelli, who said he supported only nonviolent means of opposition, described his presence in Russia as coincidental.”

Mm-hmm.

ADDENDA: A revelation from the Groundhog, at least here in the mid-Atlantic…