FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast: The Gun Debate

In the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast devotes an entire episode to the debate about guns in America — what the public wants, how the politics of guns have changed and what Washington will do. Jill Lepore, a Harvard professor and staff writer for The New Yorker, joins to discuss how the National Rifle Association has affected views on gun rights since the 1970s.

FiveThirtyEight

Do Trump’s ‘Approval’ Numbers Tell Us About Him, or About Us?

… What does it mean, exactly, to “approve” of a president? Does it mean you like Trump enough that, if there were an election tomorrow, you would vote for him? Does it mean that you like him personally? Or does it mean that you don’t like him personally but think that he’s handling affairs of state well enough anyway?

We have George Gallup, the originator of the Gallup poll, to thank for this ambiguity. An Iowa-born journalism professor and advertising consultant, Gallup spent years pondering what question might best assess presidential performance — separating it, in the minds of poll respondents, from considerations like voting preference and personal affinity — before arriving in 1945 at the wording Gallup and other pollsters have used ever since. CONT.

Charles Homans, New York Times Magazine

Most Republicans think arming teachers could have prevented Parkland; new gun laws couldn’t

There is a sharp partisan divide in the United States on, well, everything. It’s a fill-in-the-blank, really: There is a sharp partisan divide in the United States on ____________. Put whatever you want in that space and the odds are extremely good that the sentence will be accurate. It’s not surprising, then, that slotting in “how to prevent the massacre of high school students” is no exception. CONT.

Philip Bump, Washington Post

New Pennsylvania Map Is a Major Boost for Democrats

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a new congressional map for 2018 that’s close to a best-case scenario for Democrats. The map, drawn by a court-appointed special master, doesn’t just undo the gerrymander that’s produced a 13-5 seat GOP edge since 2012. It goes further, actively compensating for Democrats’ natural geographic disadvantage in the state. Under the new lines, Democrats have an excellent chance to win at least half the state’s 18 seats. CONT.

David Wasserman, Cook Political Report

The places that will decide the 2018 midterm elections

Red pockets. Romneyland. Blue-collar blues.

Those labels describe the three groups of seats in the House of Representatives that will likely determine control of the chamber in November’s midterm election. …

This battlefield reflects the long-term trends that have seen Democrats demonstrate increasing strength up and down the ballot in diverse, heavily college-educated, major metropolitan areas — even in Republican-leaning states. In parallel, Republicans have established dominant control over preponderantly white non-metro and blue-collar areas, even in otherwise Democratic-leaning states.

All of these trends have accelerated under Trump. CONT.

Ronald Brownstein, CNN

U.S. Leadership Image Suffers Most Among Friendly Nations

After Donald Trump’s election, U.S. allies and adversaries scrambled to evaluate whether his unorthodox rhetoric foreshadowed substantive shifts in U.S. foreign policy. The “America First” agenda raised questions about his administration’s willingness to defend and promote the liberal world order that the U.S. had instrumentally shaped since 1945.

Reflecting this uncertainty, the median approval rating of U.S. leadership fell from 48% in 2016 to a record-low 30% in 2017. To understand where the sharpest declines occurred, we examined salient country-level attributes often associated with key U.S. strategic partners. CONT.

Zacc Ritter, Gallup

Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings

More than 6 in 10 Americans fault Congress and President Trump for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with most Americans continuing to say these incidents are more reflective of problems identifying and addressing mental health issues than inadequate gun laws. CONT.

Scott Clement & Emily Guskin, Washington Post

Most see inaction on mass shootings; mental health screening is a priority

Large majorities of Americans say neither President Donald Trump nor Congress are doing enough to try to prevent mass shootings like the one that took 17 lives in Parkland, Florida, last week, with improved mental health screening and treatment leading the public’s preferences for action. CONT.

Gary Langer, ABC News

Don’t blame ‘Washington.’ Blame the GOP.

Dysfunctional Washington refuses to work out its differences to solve problems that matter to Americans. So say pundits and policy activists, perhaps hoping that diffuse criticism, rather than finger-pointing, will yield a government willing to govern.

But the problem isn’t “Washington.” It isn’t “Congress,” either. The problem is elected officials from a single political party: the GOP.

You’d never know it from the usual “blame Washington” rhetoric, but there are lots of common-sense policy changes, on supposedly unsolvable issues, that large majorities of voters from both parties support. CONT.

Catherine Rampell, Washington Post

Why Parkland students have emerged as a powerful political voice

The boldest voices to emerge in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have been unexpected ones. Surviving students at the school quickly spoke out on social media and to news cameras about the violence and, more broadly, about political leadership that they saw as having let them down. …

This is the first premeditated mass shooting at this scale that involved people who both grew up entirely in a world in which mass shootings were common and which targeted people old enough to have a voice.

Not only are they old enough to be heard, those in their late teens are also at an age when politics surges in importance.

Voter turnout increases as people get older, a function of greater personal stability (moving less often), and that voting tends to be habitual. But there’s evidence that those who are newly able to vote do so much more heavily than people even slightly older, in part a function of the novelty of being able to do so.

More broadly, the events experienced when you’re 18 are three times as powerful as events experienced at age 40 in terms of forming political views, according to analysis conducted by Catalist in 2014. CONT.

Philip Bump, Washington Post