GW Battleground Poll Finds Widespread Public Concern About President Trump’s Behavior

There is widespread national concern about President Donald Trump’s public discourse and behavior, according to the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll. The survey, taken August 13-17, found a large majority of voters — 71 percent — agreed his “behavior is not what I expect from a president” (27 percent disagreed), and 68 percent agreed his “words and actions could get us accidentally involved in an international conflict” (29 percent disagreed). CONT.

George Washington U.

Banks Gain Ground in Struggle to Rebuild Positive Image

The banking industry’s image with the American public has climbed to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown, with 43% now viewing it positively and 30% negatively. CONT.

Jim Norman, Gallup

Donald Trump’s Identity Politics

… It is no secret that the president has capitalized on the increasing salience of race and ethnicity in recent years. The furious reaction to many different historical and cultural developments — mass immigration; the success of the civil rights and women’s rights movements; the election and re-election of a black president; and the approaching end of white majority status in the United States — has created a political environment ripe for the growth of white identity politics. CONT.

Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times

Senate 2018: Republican Edge Runs Up Against Trump, History

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency, 2018’s race for the Senate seemed to pit two powerful, competing forces against one another: the Republicans’ long and enticing list of Democratic targets, several of which are in some of Trump’s best states, versus the longstanding tendency of the president’s party to struggle to make gains in midterm elections.

That second point, on midterm struggles, is not only amplified by the president’s poor approval ratings, but also by some history that is daunting for the president’s party: It’s uncommon for an incumbent in the presidential out party to lose reelection in a midterm. CONT.

Kyle Kondik, Sabato’s Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball Senate ratings

Who Falls for Fake News? The Roles of Analytic Thinking, Motivated Reasoning, Political Ideology, and Bullshit Receptivity

Inaccurate beliefs pose a threat to democracy and fake news represents a particularly egregious and direct avenue by which inaccurate beliefs have been propagated via social media. Here we investigate the cognitive psychological profile of individuals who fall prey to fake news. CONT.

Gordon Pennycook & David G. Rand, Yale U.

Pro-Russian Bots Take Up the Right-Wing Cause After Charlottesville

… The same social media networks that spread Russian propaganda during the 2016 election have been busily amplifying right-wing extremism surrounding the recent violence in Charlottesville, according to researchers who monitor the activity. It’s impossible to tell how much of the traffic originates from Russia or from mercenary sources. But there were hordes of automated bots generating Twitter posts and much more last week to help make right-wing conspiracy theories and rallying cries about Charlottesville go viral. CONT.

Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica

Success Has Eluded Trump, But He Could Win a Republican Civil War

Amidst all the daily developments during what is usually a slow news month, some of the most consequential are those that indicate a continued deterioration in the relationship between President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress. …

Trump may not get the ACA repeal bill or border wall that he demands, but he could still taste success—if he chooses to redefine success as winning a civil war within the Republican Party. Wherever one’s own sympathies might lie in such a battle, Trump simply holds heavier artillery and superior field position: CONT.

David A. Hopkins, Boston College

When it comes to controversial science, a little knowledge is a problem

For a lot of scientific topics, there’s a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows. For a number of these topics—climate change and evolution are prominent examples—this divide develops along cultural lines, typically religious or political identity.

It would be reassuring to think that the gap is simply a matter of a lack of information. Get the people with doubts about science up to speed, and they’d see things the way that scientists do. Reassuring, but wrong. CONT.

John Timmer, Ars Technica

Polls Show Trump Cratering? Not So Fast

Diagnosing the state of President Donald Trump’s political health should be a simple matter. The story that the traditional metrics tell is straightforward.

On a good day for him, Trump’s approval rating might crack 40 percent. But a more typical day lately will put him in the mid- to high-30s, while the worst day, so far, had him plunging to 33 percent. Since his inauguration, Trump’s approval in Gallup’s daily tracker has never exceeded 46 percent, and he only hit that number once — during his first week on the job.

By any historical standard, these numbers are politically catastrophic. And maybe that’s just what they are.

What complicates them, though, is how Trump became president in the first place. CONT.

Steve Kornacki, NBC News

Business Gets Bigger Even as Americans Prefer Small

Forces are pushing U.S. companies toward mergers, consolidations, acquisitions and growth. Yet, Americans continue to show strongly negative attitudes toward “big” business, coupled with a continued strong attitudinal affinity for small business. CONT.

Frank Newport, Gallup