Your Wonky Week – Dec. 20, 2019

This week in wonky news!

We’re complete policy wonks, and we own that. We talk about politics and polls and studies and data all the time. And we have a hunch that you’re keen on knowing what’s going on “in the weeds.” So we wanted to share some things we think are interesting right now. So here’s Something Interesting to Read, Impeachment Numbers for the Week, and – because friends don’t let friends watch Fox News – What’s Up on Fox News.

Something Interesting to Read:


You’ve likely heard about the scathing editorial in Christianity Today, an evangelical publication, calling for Trump’s removal.

Well, it’s pretty timely. Because for a few weeks now we’ve been super interested in data uncovering the pretty significant differences between Millennial evangelicals and older evangelicals.

Before we get into that, here’s the thing. White evangelical christians VOTE. They’re 17% of the US population (and shrinking – it was between 19%-23% a decade ago, depending on who you consult), but turn out in such high numbers that they are 26% of the electorate. In other words, because of sheer turnout patterns they’re overrepresented by about NINE percentage points in elections.

They also vote – overwhelmingly – for Republicans. In 2018, 75% of white evangelicals voted Republican (down from 78% in 2014) A full 35% of the GOP describes itself as evangelical protestant.

But two things are going on right now that are worth watching. First, the number of Americans identifying as Christian – including white evangelical Christian – is trending down (51% in 2006 vs. 43% in 2018). Second, the average age of white evangelicals is trending up. Today, 62% of white evangelicals are 50 or older; the median age is 55.

At this point, white evangelicals are only 8% of the under 30 population.

And boy, do they differ from their parents.

For example:
58% of born-again Christians over 30 SUPPORT the transgender military ban, while…
60% of born-again Christians under 30 OPPOSE the transgender military ban.

Here’s another:
22% of evangelical Christians over 30 support same-sex marriage, compared to…
45% of Millennial evangelicals.

It’s the same story on a number of issues:

They’re still more conservative than non-religious millennials, but the differences between their views and the older generation’s are pretty striking.

So all of that is why this in-depth article by The New Yorker about millennial evangelicals is such an interesting read: https://www.newyorker.com/news/on-religion/millennial-evangelicals-diverge-from-their-parents-beliefs

It features a number of interviews with millennial evangelicals, who echo many of the themes from the Christianity Today editorial. We thought you’d especially enjoy it this week!


Impeachment Numbers: Week of December 20, 2019:

The short answer: impeachment numbers really haven’t budged.
Our longer, more thoughtful answer: we struggled with whether to make this week’s Wonky News all about impeachment – which is top of everyone’s mind.

We decided against it, mostly because it makes us sad.

We’re disappointed with the GOP. People can differ about whether what Trump did rises to the level of impeachable conduct (we think it does). But that’s not where the GOP has gone with their arguments.

Instead, they’re claiming that what he did wasn’t wrong at all.

And in doing so, they dove headfirst into the Trumpian tar pit. And it looks like they’re going to flail around in there for a long time.

That’s just sad to witness. So we’ll leave impeachment to one side this week as we pay solemn respect to so many GOP members’ reputations.


What’s Up on Fox News:

The main theme: This isn’t happening to “him” – it’s happening to you.

We’ve discussed this before. Hannity and Tucker Carlson have made impeachment very personal to the Fox News watching set. Whatever happens to Trump is repackaged as something that’s being done to the watchers by the “psychotic” and “hate-filled” Democrats.

Democrats are portrayed as blood-thirsty swamp dwellers whose singular focus is revenge – and overturning the 2016 election (and thus most viewers’ votes).

Hannity said as much the night of impeachment:

“This is not just about President Trump, this is about you. You, we, we. We smelly, Walmart-shopping Trump supporters, who cling to our God, our Constitution, and our Bibles.”

Also from his show: “Democrats, of course, have been hell bent on ripping this country apart for three straight years. There [have been] three long years of psychotic rage [and] hate against the president coupled with their inability to accept the outcome of ‘we the people… The 2016 election has now resulted in one of the most, if not the most, pathetic, divisive, disgusting, repulsive and frankly dangerous political stunts in American history.”

So that’s how it’s being framed: highfalutin Democrats are acting out of pure politics and revenge and single-handedly ripping the country apart.

Keep that in mind as you read the VERY interesting polling data that Fox shared this week… Which was released to the technically accurate but misleading headline: Trump Job Approval Ticks Up, Views on Impeachment Steady.

Trump’s approval IS up – but it’s still underwater. He went from 57% disapproval in October to 53% disapproval now.

And impeachment numbers are eerily similar to numbers in October, but 1/2 the country still supports impeachment AND removal.

Now:
Impeached and removed: 50%
Impeached, not removed: 4%
Not impeached: 41%

October:
Impeached and removed: 49%
Impeached, not removed: 4%
Not impeached: 41%

Now for the juicy bit. Hidden in the story – without any mention in the headline and absent any nifty graphics – we learn that by a 16-point margin voters believe Republicans are just trying to protect Trump.

In contrast, by a 6-point margin voters believe Democrats truly think Trump did something impeachable.

In other words, voters think it’s the GOP that’s acting politically – even after the full-court press to frame the impeachment inquiry as a politically-motivated Democratic witch hunt.
Sure seems like there’s something to work with there, doesn’t it?

Even so, we’ve got a feeling, and we bet you do, too, that Trump’s not going to be removed by the Senate. And that means we all need to keep working our tails off to beat Trump in 2020.

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That means for a few weeks our nominee is a sitting duck waiting for party resources to kick in, while the GOP takes shots at them.

If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. But you can be part of the project that’s going to fix that, and give our 2020 Democratic nominee resources to fight back on the very night they cross the delegate threshold – which is when they need them the most.

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Stay wonky!