The Incredible Shrinking Senate Majority

… Structural changes in voters’ behavior are making it tougher for either party to amass, much less sustain, a comfortable Senate majority—except in rare circumstances. …

The big dynamic pointing toward precarious Senate majorities is the increasingly parliamentary nature of congressional elections. In the first decades after World War II, many voters routinely split their tickets, supporting one party’s presidential nominee and candidates from the other party in House and Senate races. But after peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, such split-ticket balloting has steadily declined in our polarized political era. CONT.

Ron Brownstein, National Journal

The five clans of the GOP

… Republicans have now become a party of true believers, and true believers do not tolerate heresy. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the party’s former vice presidential nominee, told Iowa Republicans last week, “This is the Lenten season. Here’s what I say: we give up infighting, tunnel vision, acrimony. We need to unite the clans.”

There are five Republican clans, so uniting them might be hard to do. Each has at least one preferred candidate for 2016. CONT.

Bill Schneider (George Mason U.), Reuters

Recent polls: Republican presidential preference

On Economy, Americans Less Confident in Federal Leaders

Less than half of Americans (42%) have confidence in President Barack Obama on doing or recommending the right thing for the economy — the lowest figure Gallup has on record for him. New lows in confidence were also found for Democratic leaders (35%), while Republican leaders in Congress received the lowest mark on record for either party (24%). Americans have more confidence in business leaders and state governors than federal political leaders. CONT.

Justin McCarthy, Gallup

Why wouldn’t people want to reduce inequality?

… Political scientists Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage offer four reasons here for why democracy has not saved us from inequality. They end with the one to which they appear to give the most credence: mass opinion. In short, for democracy to reduce inequality, it must be the case that people view progressive taxation as necessary to ensure fairness. Put another way, democracy hasn’t saved us from inequality because people don’t sufficiently want to reduce inequality. CONT.

David Siegel (Duke), The Monkey Cage

Less is More: American Views on Ukraine

In today’s post, we would like to highlight two surveys that were conducted in late March that have not been amplified as much as Pew, Gallup, and other polls about American attitudes on the situation in Ukraine. One survey was conducted by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute between March 26-31, and the other was conducted by the Reason Foundation and the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation (the Reason-Rupe poll; fieldwork by Princeton Survey Research Associates International) between March 26-30. CONT.

Dina Smeltz & Craig Kafura, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Recent polls: Russia and Ukraine

U.S. Views of Technology and the Future

The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage. This is among the main findings of a new national survey by The Pew Research Center, which asked Americans about a wide range of potential scientific developments—from near-term advances like robotics and bioengineering, to more “futuristic” possibilities like teleportation or space colonization.

In addition to asking them for their predictions about the long-term future of scientific advancement, we also asked them to share their own feelings and attitudes toward some new developments that might become common features of American life in the relatively near future. CONT.

Pew

pew_140417_science

Populism? Where are the pitchforks?

Americans are in a surly mood, confronting rules they feel are rigged against them. President Barack Obama captured this populist temper in his re-election campaign. He then launched his second term declaring that inequality is the “most pressing challenge of our time,” and laying out a popular agenda to raise the federal minimum wage, provide pay equity for women, establish universal pre-school and other initiatives that polls show the public strongly supports.

Republican obstruction, however, has blocked progress on all these — even as the House GOP last week passed Representative Paul Ryan’s budget, which cuts taxes for the rich and corporations, turns Medicare into a voucher program, slashes spending on education and protects subsidies to Big Oil.

Yet it is the president’s popularity that has cratered. CONT.

Robert L. Borosage (Institute for America’s Future), Reuters

Fox News Poll: Christie, Bush and Paul are top GOP picks — today — for 2016

Yes, it’s a bit early to talk about the 2016 election. It’s just too much fun not to do it. You’re welcome.

With about 20 months to go before the Iowa precinct caucuses, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul lead the pack for the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton continues to hold a huge lead among Democrats, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. CONT.

Dana Blanton, Fox News

The Urgent Economic Narrative for 2014

The economy is still the main issue in the 2014 election, impacting the mood of the country, driving likely voter turnout, and defining what is at stake. With voters uncertain of President Obama and the Democrats’ direction on the economy, Democratic voters are 7 points less likely than Republicans to say they are ‘almost certain to vote’ in the off-year election in November.

But Democrats can change that equation if they show they understand people’s financial struggles, get the narrative right, push back against an economy that works only for the 1 percent, and offer an economic agenda that puts working women first. CONT. – pdf

Democracy Corps & Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund

How the President Got to ‘I Do’ on Same-Sex Marriage

… The assumption going into the 2012 campaign was that there was little to be gained politically from the president’s coming down firmly in favor of same-sex marriage. In particular, his political advisers were worried that his endorsement could splinter the coalition needed to win a second term, depressing turnout among socially conservative African-Americans, Latinos and white working-class Catholics in battleground states.

But by November 2011, it was becoming increasingly clear that continuing to sidestep the issue came with its own set of costs. The campaign’s internal polling revealed that the issue was a touchstone for likely Obama voters under 30. The campaign needed those voters to turn out in the record numbers they had four years earlier, and the biggest impediment was Obama’s refusal to say he favored allowing gay couples to wed. CONT.

Jo Becker, New York Times

Recent polls: Same-sex marriage