miércoles, 29 de enero de 2020

U.S. Media Polarization and the 2020 Election: A Nation Divided

Deep partisan divisions exist in the news sources Americans trust, distrust and rely on

As the U.S. enters a heated 2020 presidential election year, a new Pew Research Center report finds that Republicans and Democrats place their trust in two nearly inverse news media environments.

Overall, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents view many heavily relied on sources across a range of platforms as untrustworthy. At the same time, Democrats and independents who lean Democratic see most of those sources as credible and rely on them to a far greater degree, according to the survey of 12,043 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 29–Nov. 11, 2019, on Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.

These divides are even more pronounced between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

Moreover, evidence suggests that partisan polarization in the use and trust of media sources has widened in the past five years. A comparison to a similar study by the Center of web-using U.S. adults in 2014 finds that Republicans have grown increasingly alienated from most of the more established sources, while Democrats’ confidence in them remains stable, and in some cases, has strengthened.

How we asked about trust and distrust

Respondents were first asked if they heard of the source, then if so, whether they trust or distrust it for political and election news and whether they got political and election news there in the past week. The two examples below show one outlet (CBS News) that is heard of by the vast majority of U.S. adults and is also trusted by far more people than distrusted, and another outlet (Politico) that has been heard of by far fewer adults (44%) but is still trusted by more people than distrusted, even though just 13% of the public expresses trust. See the methodology for a description of how the 30 outlets were selected.

The study asked about use of, trust in, and distrust of 30 different news sources for political and election news. While it is impossible to represent the entire crowded media space, the outlets, which range from network television news to Rush Limbaugh to the New York Times to the Washington Examiner to HuffPost, were selected to represent popular media brands across a range of platforms.

Greater portions of Republicans express distrust than express trust of 20 of the 30 sources asked about. Only seven outlets generate more trust than distrust among Republicans – including Fox News and the talk radio programs of hosts Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

For Democrats, the numbers are almost reversed. Greater portions of Democrats express trust than express distrust in 22 of the 30 sources asked about. Only eight generate more distrust than trust – including Fox News, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

Another way to look at the diverging partisan views of media credibility: Almost half of the sources included in this report (13) are trusted by at least 33% of Democrats, but only two are trusted by at least 33% of Republicans.

Republicans’ lower trust in a variety of measured news sources coincides with their infrequent use. Overall, only one source, Fox News, was used by at least one-third of Republicans for political and election news in the past week. There are five different sources from which at least one-third of Democrats received political or election news in the last week (CNN, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News and MSNBC).

And in what epitomizes this era of polarized news, none of the 30 sources is trusted by more than 50% of all U.S. adults.
The Fox News phenomenon

In the more compact Republican media ecosystem, one outlet towers above all others: Fox News. It would be hard to overstate its connection as a trusted go-to source of political news for Republicans.

About two-thirds (65%) of Republicans and Republican leaners say they trust Fox News as a source. Additionally, 60% say they got political or election news there in the past week.

Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, CNN (67%) is about as trusted a source of information as Fox News is among Republicans. The cable network is also Democrats’ most commonly turned to source for political and election news, with about half (53%) saying they got news there in the past week.

The big difference is that while no other source comes close to rivaling Fox News’ appeal to Republicans, a number of sources other than CNN are also highly trusted and frequently used by Democrats.
The impact of political ideology on Americans’ trust in news outlets

The partisan gaps become even more dramatic when looking at the parties’ ideological poles – conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.1 About two-thirds of liberal Democrats (66%) trust The New York Times, for example. In comparison, just 10% of conservative Republicans trust the Times, while 50% outright distrust it. Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, is the third-most trusted source among conservative Republicans (38%) but tied for the second-most distrusted source among liberal Democrats (55%).

At the same time, the gap is less pronounced among the more moderate segments in each party. For example, three-quarters of conservative Republicans trust Fox News, while just about half (51%) of moderate or liberal Republicans do. Conversely, moderate and conservative Democrats are more than twice as likely as liberal Democrats to trust Fox News (32% vs. 12%).
The divide widens over time

There is also evidence that suggests that these partisan divides have grown over the past five years, particularly with more Republicans voicing distrust in a number of sources. A comparison to a similar study of web-using U.S. adults conducted by the Center in 2014 finds that Republicans’ distrust increased for 15 of the 20 sources asked about in both years – with notable growth in Republicans’ distrust of CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Democrats’ levels of trust and distrust in media sources have changed considerably less than Republicans’ during this time span. Even accounting for the modest methodological differences between the two studies, these differences hold. (Details about the two studies can be found in the methodology.)

All in all, it’s not that partisans live in entirely separate media bubbles when it comes to political news. There is some overlap in news sources, but determining the full extent of that overlap can be difficult to gauge. One factor is that getting news from a source does not always mean trusting that source. Indeed, the data reveals that while 24% of Republicans got news from CNN in the past week, roughly four-in-ten who did (39%) say they distrust the outlet. And of the 23% of Democrats who got political news from Fox News in the past week, nearly three-in-ten (27%) distrust it.

Democrats report much higher levels of trust in a number of news sources than Republicans

One of the clearest differences between Americans on opposing sides of the political aisle is that large portions of Democrats express trust in a far greater number of news sources.

This analysis asked individuals about 30 specific news sources across different platforms, selected on a range of measures including audience size, topic areas covered and relevance to political news. (For more details, see the methodology.) Respondents were shown grids of sources and asked to click on those they had heard of. Among the outlets respondents had heard of, they were asked to then click on those they trusted and then those they distrusted for political and election news. It’s worth noting that trust and distrust figures are somewhat dependent on how much of the population has heard of the source. Outlets with low awareness among the public, for example, would also necessarily have smaller portions who could express trust or distrust.

Almost half (13) of the 30 sources asked about are trusted by at least 33% of Democrats, and six are trusted by at least 50%. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, CNN sits at the top, trusted by two-thirds (67%) of Democrats. That is followed by the three commercial broadcast networks, all closely bunched together: NBC News (61% of Democrats), ABC News (60%) and CBS News (59%).

How respondents were asked about 30 sources

Respondents were shown grids of 30 news outlets and asked to select the ones that they had heard of. If they had heard of an outlet, they were asked if they trusted it for political and election news. If they didn’t say that they trust an outlet, they were then asked if they distrusted it. Finally, respondents were asked if they had gotten political or election news in the past week from any of the outlets they had heard about. See the methodology for more details.

Also trusted by at least 50% of Democrats are the public television outlet PBS (56%) and The New York Times (53%). Next come the United Kingdom-based public media outlet BBC (48%), the cable channel MSNBC (48%) and The Washington Post (47%). Public radio outlet NPR and Time magazine are each trusted by 46% of Democrats.

Conversely, after the 65% of Republicans and Republican leaners who trust Fox News as a source, trust levels drop precipitously. The only other source trusted by as many as one-third of Republicans is ABC (33% of Republicans), followed closely by CBS, NBC and the Sean Hannity radio show (all at 30%). Even though the three broadcast networks rank among Republicans’ top five most-trusted sources, only about half as many Republicans as Democrats trust them.

Similarly, the percentage of Republicans who trust The New York Times (15%) and The Washington Post (13%) is about a third of the share of Democrats who do.

Trust measures for the full list of sources can be found in the sortable tables below, but in all, 18 sources are trusted by fewer than 20% of Republicans, compared with 13 trusted by fewer than 20% of Democrats.
Distrust levels offer a near reverse image of party-line gaps in trust

It is one thing to not express trust in an outlet; voicing outright distrust is another matter. Hefty party-line differences come through when looking at levels of distrust as well.

Only four of the 30 sources in this study are distrusted by one-third or more Democrats and Democratic leaners. At the top of the list by a wide margin is Fox News, distrusted by 61% of Democrats for political and election news.

Other sources distrusted by a third or more of Democrats are Rush Limbaugh (43%), the Sean Hannity radio show (38%) and Breitbart (36%). Here is it worth noting that only between 40% and 50% of Democrats have heard of those sources, which means the vast majority who could weigh in express distrust.

Beyond these news outlets, there is little Democratic distrust to go around. Fewer than 10% of Democrats distrust the three major commercial broadcast networks, the two U.S. public media sources (NPR and PBS), the two weekly news magazines (Newsweek and Time magazine) or the four daily newspapers with a national reach. These numbers are another way of reflecting Democrats’ confidence in many sources in this study.

Among Republicans and Republican leaners, distrust of media sources is more common. Eight sources – twice as many as the Democrats’ total — are distrusted by at least one-third of Republicans. At the top of the list is CNN, which is distrusted by 58% of Republicans. Then come MSNBC (distrusted by 47%), The New York Times (42%), NBC (40%), The Washington Post (39%), CBS (37%), ABC (37%) and HuffPost (34%).\

All of these sources, with the exception of HuffPost, are distrusted by 10% or fewer of Democrats – and trusted by 47% or more.

Conversely, the four sources distrusted by the most Democrats – Sean Hannity, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News – are distrusted by 20% or fewer of Republicans.
Ratios of trust and distrust in news sources help tell the story

The extent of partisan media polarization – the fundamental divergence over the credibility of news sources – may be most clearly reflected by looking at trust and distrust together.

Of the 30 sources examined in this study, there are seven that Republicans (and those who lean Republican) trust more than they distrust for political and election news, 20 are distrusted by more Republicans than trusted, and three receive a mixed verdict.

Among Democrats (and those who lean Democratic), the numbers are close to reversed: 22 sources are trusted by more Democrats than distrusted, while eight are distrusted by more Democrats than trusted.

Of the sources trusted by more Republicans than distrusted, Fox News stands out. More than three times as many Republicans trust it as distrust it for political and election news (65% of Republicans vs. 19% who express distrust). The Sean Hannity radio show is trusted by three times as many Republicans as those who distrust it (30% of Republicans trust it vs. 10% who distrust it). Rush Limbaugh is trusted by 27% of Republicans and distrusted by 14%.

How to read graphics showing trust and distrust

These graphics compare how many people trust each outlet to how many distrust it. The outlets are grouped into one of three groups: Sources that are trusted by more people than distrusted; sources that are distrusted by more people than trusted; or sources that are trusted and distrusted by about the same amount of people. Assignments to each group are based on whether the percent of people who trust each outlet is statistically significantly different from the percent who distrust it. Within those groups, the outlets are sorted from top to bottom by the ratio of trust to distrust. The order does not necessarily indicate that an outlet’s overall level of trust is significantly different from the outlet below or above it.
Respondents were only asked whether they trust or distrust an outlet if they had heard of it (see the topline.) For several outlets, large portions of the population have not heard of them, resulting in small segments who could express trust or distrust.
Outlets included in the study reflect a mix of sources of political and election news. To see more about how we chose the 30 outlets asked about, see the methodology.

Other sources trusted by more Republicans than distrusted include several long-established news outlets where the ratio of trust to distrust is narrower. PBS is trusted by 27% of Republicans and distrusted by 20%, the BBC is trusted by 21% and distrusted by 16%, and The Wall Street Journal is trusted by 24% and distrusted by 19%.

Not only are Democrats much more likely to express more trust than distrust of most sources, the ratio is often much wider.

Among the Democrats’ sources with the largest margins between trust and distrust are PBS (56% trust vs. 4% distrust), NPR (46% vs. 2%), NBC (61% vs. 6%), CBS (59% vs. 6%), ABC (60% vs. 7%), BBC (48% vs. 5%), The New York Times (53% vs. 6%), The Washington Post (47% vs. 7%) and CNN (67% vs. 10%).

Within that group, both The Washington Post and The New York Times are among the outlets with the greatest distrust-to-trust ratio among Republicans. Also highly distrusted among Republicans are HuffPost (4% of Republicans trust and 34% distrust) and BuzzFeed at 3% trust to 29% distrust.

The much smaller group of sources distrusted by more Democrats than trusted includes Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh and the Sean Hannity radio show. Each of these is trusted by about 1% of Democrats and distrusted by about a third or more. One other outlet that fares poorly among Democrats is Fox News (23% trust to 61% distrust).

Amid this deep polarization, a few sources stand out across parties. PBS, the BBC and the Wall Street Journal are the three outlets trusted more than distrusted by both Republicans and Democrats.

At the other end of the spectrum, three outlets are distrusted by more in each party than trusted: the Washington Examiner, the New York Post, and BuzzFeed.

Trust, distrust, use and awareness of each news source by party and across all U.S. adults can be examined in the sortable tables below.

Share of Americans who have heard of each outlet, by party and ideology

% of U.S. adults who have heard of each source for political and election news

OutletAll U.S. adultsDemocrat/
Lean DemRepublican/
Lean RepLiberal Dem/
Lean DemConservative/
Moderate Dem/Lean DemModerate/
Liberal Rep/Lean RepConservative Rep/
Lean Rep
ABC News 93% 93% 93% 95% 92% 93% 93%
BBC 76% 76% 77% 87% 67% 75% 79%
Breitbart 39% 42% 39% 59% 28% 29% 46%
Business Insider 43% 48% 38% 59% 40% 38% 40%
BuzzFeed 63% 68% 60% 81% 57% 58% 62%
CBS News 91% 91% 93% 94% 88% 91% 93%
CNN 94% 95% 93% 97% 93% 93% 93%
Daily Caller 18% 15% 22% 22% 10% 13% 28%
Fox News 94% 92% 96% 94% 91% 95% 97%
Guardian 49% 55% 45% 71% 42% 42% 47%
Hill 32% 34% 31% 49% 23% 23% 36%
HuffPost 63% 66% 63% 81% 55% 59% 66%
MSNBC 85% 86% 87% 91% 81% 85% 89%
NBC News 92% 93% 92% 95% 91% 92% 92%
New York Post 68% 69% 68% 79% 62% 63% 70%
New York Times 83% 84% 84% 92% 78% 83% 85%
Newsweek 74% 74% 76% 83% 67% 72% 79%
NPR 56% 59% 55% 76% 45% 49% 59%
PBS 84% 84% 85% 91% 79% 83% 86%
Politico 44% 49% 42% 66% 35% 33% 49%
Rush Limbaugh Show (radio) 56% 50% 66% 61% 42% 53% 74%
Sean Hannity Show (radio) 49% 44% 59% 56% 34% 45% 68%
Time 82% 84% 82% 90% 79% 81% 83%
Univision 44% 51% 37% 58% 44% 35% 39%
USA Today 85% 85% 86% 90% 81% 85% 88%
Vice 35% 44% 26% 58% 33% 33% 21%
Vox 31% 40% 23% 56% 27% 25% 22%
Wall Street Journal 79% 79% 82% 88% 73% 78% 84%
Washington Examiner 34% 33% 37% 40% 27% 28% 43%
Washington Post 80% 80% 82% 88% 74% 79% 84%

Source: Survey of U.S. adults conducted Oct. 29-Nov. 11, 2019.

Americans are divided by party in the sources they turn to for political news

To a large degree, the pattern of partisan polarization that emerges in attitudes about the credibility of news sources is also evident in the sources that Republicans and Democrats rely on for news about politics and the election.

Overall, Republicans (and independents who lean Republican) get political and election news from a smaller group of sources than Democrats, with an overwhelming reliance on one source – Fox News. Democrats (including independents who lean Democratic), on the other hand, use a wider range of sources.

Six-in-ten Republicans say they got news from the Fox News cable network in the past week. After Fox News, there is a huge gap before the next most turned-to sources – ABC News, NBC News and CBS News, all at similar levels (30%, 28%, and 26% respectively).

Despite Republicans’ deep distrust of CNN, it is among the more commonly used sources among Republicans, with 24% who got political news there in the past week. Next come the radio shows of Sean Hannity (19%) and Rush Limbaugh (17%). No other source tops 15% among Republicans.

On the Democratic side, CNN is turned to by the greatest portion, with 53% saying they got political news there in the past week. As is the case with Republicans, the three major commercial broadcast networks are the next most turned to sources of political news for Democrats, albeit in bigger doses — NBC (40%), ABC (37%) and CBS (33%).

One-third of Democrats also got news from cable channel MSNBC (33%) in the past week. A similar share got political news from The New York Times (31%) and NPR (30%). About a quarter got news from The Washington Post (26%) and Fox News (23%).

Amid these divides, there are some in each party who turn to the most relied-on sources of the other party: Roughly a quarter of Republicans (24%) got political news from CNN in the past week, which virtually matches the percentage of Democrats (23%) who say the same of Fox News. In other words, even amid the tendency of partisans to seek political news from different sources, there is still some overlap in what partisans see.
Partisan divides lead to one-sided audiences for many news outlets

The preference for news sources based on party identification and ideology affects the partisan makeup of the audience of each outlet, as shown below. Each source is placed on the line graph according to those who said they got political and election news there in the past week – taking into consideration both party identification (Republican or Democrat, including leaners) and ideology (conservative, moderate or liberal). (For more details see the methodology.)

For example, the average audience member of The New York Post sits very close to the party and ideology of the average U.S. adult. The average audience member of Breitbart, the Sean Hannity radio show and Rush Limbaugh’s radio program sit further to the right, as they tend to be more conservative and Republican. Fox News, even as it is turned to by large portions of conservatives Republicans, also has substantial numbers of more moderate Republicans and Democrats who get some news from it. Thus, Fox News sits closer to the middle than Breitbart and some others. It is worth noting that most of these outlets have an audience that falls at least slightly to the left of the average U.S. adult.

Furthermore, some adults only got political news in the past week from outlets whose audiences mostly share their political views. Roughly two-in-ten Republicans (18%) got political and election news in the past week only from outlets whose audiences lean disproportionately to the right – that is, there are two-thirds more conservative Republicans in their audience base than liberal Democrats.2 Similarly, 20% of Democrats got news only from outlets whose audiences lean disproportionately to the left (two-thirds more liberal Democrats than conservative Republicans).
Americans’ use of a news outlet does not always mean they trust it

Even as Republicans and Democrats sort themselves into different news universes, there are a few sources that are used by large numbers on both sides.

A deeper analysis reveals, however, that getting political news from a source does not always mean one trusts it. Indeed, some people report getting news from sources they also say they distrust. This is particularly true among Republicans. For example, among the 24% of Republicans who said they got political and election news from CNN in the last week, about four-in-ten (39%) say they distrust CNN. Conversely, among the 53% of Democrats who use CNN, just 4% distrust it.

Similarly, for each of the three major commercial broadcast networks, about two-in-ten Republicans who got political news from these outlets in the past week also say they distrust that source (24% of Republicans who got news from NBC distrust it, 22% for CBS and 21% for ABC).

And while relatively small numbers of Republicans got news from MSNBC (14%), The New York Times (9%) and The Washington Post (8%) in the past week, of those who did, 45% distrust The Washington Post, 38% distrust The New York Times and 37% distrust MSNBC.

For Democrats, the data tells a different story. With one exception, few Democrats say they got news in the past week from sources they distrust. The exception is Fox News. Nearly one-quarter of Democrats (23%) got news there in the past week. And of those who did, 27% say they do not trust the cable channel as a source of information about the election and politics.

Ideology reveals largest gaps in trust occur between conservatives and liberals

The differences in trust and distrust of news outlets are often wider among the ideological wings of each party — conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

One way to see this is to look at the two cable channels that most clearly represent the polarized media universe. Among all Republicans and Republican leaners, CNN is trusted by 23% and Fox is trusted by 65%. Among conservative Republicans and Republican leaners, trust drops to 16% for CNN and climbs to 75% for Fox News.

The same phenomenon can be seen among Democrats and Democratic leaners. The trust level for Fox News among all Democrats is 23%, but it drops significantly to 12% among liberal Democrats. The percentage who trust CNN is roughly the same among all Democrats (67%) and among liberal Democrats (70%).

Overall then, the CNN “trust gap” between conservative Republicans (16%) and liberal Democrats (70%) is fully 54 percentage points. And the gap in trust of Fox News is even larger at 63 points (trusted by 75% of conservative Republicans and 12% of liberal Democrats).

Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats also look even more dimly at sources that are already widely distrusted by Republicans and Democrats in general. For example, the Sean Hannity radio show is distrusted by 38% of Democrats and Rush Limbaugh is distrusted by 43%. Among liberal Democrats, distrust rises to 50% and 55%, respectively.

Similarly, MSNBC is distrusted by 47% of Republicans overall but by 57% of conservative Republicans. The New York Times is distrusted by 42% of all Republicans, yet by half of all conservative Republicans (50%).

These differences can be examined from the other direction as well. While Sean Hannity is trusted by 30% of all Republicans, he is trusted by 43% of conservative Republicans. The same is true for Limbaugh, whose trust level rises from 27% among all Republicans to 38% among conservatives.

On the other side of the aisle, The New York Times is trusted by 53% of all Democrats. But among liberal Democrats, that number jumps to 66%.

Some of these views about media credibility also are reflected in how often sources are used. Among all Republicans, 19% say they got political and election news from the Sean Hannity radio show in the past week. But about a quarter of conservative Republicans (27%) did so.

About one-third of all Democrats (31%) received political news from The New York Times in the past week. Liberal Democrats were even more faithful consumers, with 42% saying they got news from the Times in the past week.

Within both partisan groups there are ideological differences in views and use of news sources – these are particularly pronounced among Republicans. For example, there are 20 sources more conservative Republicans distrust than trust. That number falls to 15 sources among moderate and liberal Republicans. And though only four sources are trusted more than distrusted by conservative Republicans, there are 10 that moderate and liberal Republicans trust more than distrust.

In evaluating the credibility of the three major commercial broadcast networks, moderate and liberal Republicans are far more likely to trust ABC, CBS and NBC News than conservative Republicans.

For Fox News specifically, support softens among moderate and liberal Republicans. Three-quarters of conservative Republicans (75%) trust it; only 12% distrust it. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, about half (51%) say they trust Fox News and 29% distrust it.

There are also some distinctions within parties about the use of sources for political and election news. Fox News is easily the most turned to source for all Republicans, but while about two-thirds of all conservative Republicans (68%) got political news there in the past week, only about half of moderate and liberal Republicans (46%) did. And, while about a quarter of conservative Republicans got political news last week from the Sean Hannity radio show (27%) and Rush Limbaugh (23%), those numbers plunge to 7% and 6%, respectively, for moderate and liberal Republicans.

The differences between conservative and moderate Democrats and liberal Democrats aren’t as pronounced as those on the Republican side, but there are some. For example, while 55% of liberal Democrats distrust Rush Limbaugh, that number drops to 34% among conservative and moderate Democrats. The same is true for Sean Hannity, where the level of distrust drops from 50% among liberal Democrats to 28% for conservative and moderate Democrats.

There are other distinctions within the Democratic party when it comes to getting political and election news. For example, 42% of liberal Democrats got political news from The New York Times in the past week compared with 22% of conservative and moderate Democrats. A similar pattern is seen with The Washington Post, where one-third of liberal Democrats (33%) got political news last week compared with 20% of conservatives and moderates. Finally, while only 15% of liberal Democrats say they got news from Fox News in the past week, about twice as many moderate and conservative Democrats (29%) say they did so.

In recent years, partisan media divides have grown, largely driven by Republican distrust

In 2014, Pew Research Center conducted its foundational “Political Polarization & Media Habits” report. That study – which was conducted among web-using adults only – revealed that political polarization had bled into Americans’ news preferences. The new 2019 data suggests that, the chasm has widened in the five years since. Although there are a few methodological differences between the two studies, the central questions regarding trust and distrust have been repeated for 20 news outlets, allowing us to make a rough comparison over time (a fuller discussion of the two studies can be found in the methodology.)

Most of the movement over these five years has come from Republicans and Republican- leaning independents increasing their distrust of many of the more traditional outlets tied to legacy platforms like network TV and print newspapers. There has been far less movement among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, and those smaller changes are largely expressed as greater trust in a few outlets.

Of the 20 sources asked about in both the 2014 and 2019 studies, distrust among Republicans increased for 15. Among those that have seen the largest erosion are those often decried by President Trump. Take for example CNN, where distrust has increased among Republicans from 33% in 2014 to 58% today. The percentage of Republicans who distrusted The Washington Post in 2014 was 22%; now it is 39%. There was a similar shift with The New York Times, where distrust jumped from 29% to 42% in the past five years.

Republican distrust in The Wall Street Journal increased from 11% to 19% in that span and distrust of USA Today grew from 16% to 26%. CBS and ABC have also seen Republican distrust increase by 10 percentage points and 9 percentage points, respectively.

Among Democrats, levels of distrust and trust remained remarkably stable from 2014 to 2019. One exception is the Sean Hannity radio show, where distrust among Democrats increased moderately, from 32% to 38%. The percentage of Democrats who distrust Breitbart News also increased, from 7% to 36% in that period, accompanied by a rising familiarity with the conservative news outlet. In 2014, only 10% of Democrats were aware of Breitbart, compared to 42% now. Only two outlets experienced an increase in trust among Democrats: The Washington Post (37% in 2014 and 47% in 2019) and Politico (1o% to 21%).

A recent study sheds light on what may be at least partly behind the growing distrust on the right. In that study, researchers examined questions from more than 50 different surveys to determine what factors connect with higher or lower trust in the news media writ large. It revealed that in the Trump era, under a president who has frequently criticized much of the traditional news industry, no factor comes close to matching the impact of political party identification on trust in the news media overall. What’s more, within the Republican Party, approval of Donald Trump aligns with much greater animosity toward news organizations and journalists.

Rubén  Weinsteiner

martes, 7 de enero de 2020

Who’s Winning 2024?

It’s not too early to examine which future presidential candidates had the best 2019—and what to watch from them next.

Illustration by Charlie Powell


Just because you aren’t running for president right now doesn’t mean you’re not running for president at all. Anyone watching closely in 2019, and focusing their attention past the 2020 election, could see that the jockeying for 2024 has already begun.

Who had the best 2024 campaign this past year? There’s a lot we don’t know yet, like whether the next presidential campaign will be a contest to succeed a new Democratic administration, or to succeed eight years of Donald Trump. Will the 2020 Democratic primay establish a new consensus inside the party, or leave it trapped in its old arguments? Will the post-Trump Republican Party be desperate for a housecleaning, or will it crave another Trumpist candidate?

We do know that prospective candidates are already thinking that far ahead, trying to carve out distinct profiles for themselves. They haven’t decided when they’re going to run, but they’re wondering whether 2024 will be the right year.

Too early, you say? Never. While not obvious at the time, in retrospect, Trump’s 2011 promotion of the baseless conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in America laid the groundwork for his 2016 run. In more traditional fashion, Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address was the effective beginning of his successful 2008 campaign.

So which prospective candidates are winning the race for 2024 in 2019?

Vice President Mike Pence


The Vice

Mike Pence

Vice President Mike Pence is not the most captivating politician. He was the subject of two books this year that portrayed him as willing to sacrifice principle for ambition (in “American Carnage,” POLITICO’s Tim Alberta noted Pence’s “talent for bootlicking”). He endured speculation that Trump would dump him from the ticket.

But he won a public commitment from Trump, who said last month that Pence “is our man, 100 percent.” Assuming Trump keeps his word (which, granted, should never be assumed), Pence will have something no other Republican candidate in 2024 will have: the title of vice president. That’s no small thing.

Since 1960, nearly every sitting or former vice president who sought his party’s presidential nomination got it. The lone exception was Dan Quayle, an unusually unpopular vice president who dropped out of the 2000 campaign almost as soon as he jumped in. In 1972, Hubert Humphrey ran for the Democratic nomination and lost, but he had previously won it four years earlier, then lost the general election. Joe Biden isn’t a lock in 2020, but his VP status is the biggest reason why he has held the frontrunner position since he entered the race.

There’s plenty of speculation that Mike Pompeo wants to inherit the Trump mantle, but it’s hard to imagine a secretary of State (current or former, depending on how long Pompeo stays in his current job, and whether he runs for an open Senate seat in Kansas) boxing out a vice president in a presidential primary. The only time that’s happened was when Hillary Clinton kept Biden out of the 2016 race, and she was both a former first lady and the 2008 presidential primary runner-up.

Trump has a flair for the dramatic and a distaste for playing by old rules. If anyone is capable of making a capricious decision to replace a vice president, it is Trump. But he didn’t in 2019, and that was a win for Pence.

What to watch for in 2020: No president has booted a VP before a reelection campaign since Franklin D. Roosevelt did it by dumping John Nance Garner in 1940 and then Henry Wallace in 1944, both at the Democratic National Convention. (In 1975, an appointed vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, was forced to remove himself from consideration for the 1976 ticket by President Gerald Ford, who was running in his first presidential election.) Might Trump, in the interest of producing his finest reality TV show drama, wait until August’s Republican convention to introduce a new character?

Nikki Haley with President Donald Trump

The Tweeter

Nikki Haley

If you want to be on the inside track for 2024, the next best thing to being vice president is being the subject of rumors about replacing the vice president. Even if you have to crank the rumor mill yourself.

In late August, eight months out of her job in the Trump administration as ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley tweeted: “Enough of the false rumors. Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years … He has my complete support.” As there were no such widely discussed rumors at the time, Haley’s tweet served only to prompt new rumors. The White House tried to shut down the chatter immediately, directing presidential aide Kellyanne Conway to post on Twitter, “Trump-PENCE2020.” Three months later, the anonymous author of “A Warning” wrote, “On more than one occasion, Trump has discussed with staff the possibility of dropping Vice President Pence” and that “Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president.” (This is what prompted Trump to say Pence is “our man.”)

Haley attracts attention because, as a former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, she has one the best résumés in the Republican Party. And she is a rare woman of color in a party that struggles mightily to win the votes of women and minorities.

Haley spent 2019 trying to carefully calibrate a distinctive political profile in the embryonic field: a Republican who is loyal to Trump without always agreeing with Trump.

You could see this effort at work during Trump’s summer controversy over Baltimore, when the president tweeted that the city was a “rat and rodent infested mess” that had been failed by its congressman, Elijah Cummings, (who died in October). At first, Haley defended Trump from charges of racism on her Twitter feed: “Instead of all of this back and forth about who everyone thinks is racist and whose [sic] not, the President just offered to help the people of Baltimore. They should take him up on it.” But a few days later, when Trump posted a sarcastic tweet in response to news of an attempted intrusion of Cummings’ home, Haley posted a scolding reply: “This is so unnecessary.”

Similarly, in Haley’s new book, “With All Due Respect,” she largely defended Trump and revealed that she rebuffed the entreaties of then chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help them circumvent Trump on matters such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement. But she also put a little distance between herself and Trump on foreign relations. She wrote unequivocally, “The truth was the Russia did meddle in our elections.” She said she chided Trump to his face about his infamous Helsinki news conference, telling him that he “made it sound like we were beholden” to Russia. Yet she also said Trump appreciated her candor, and she charitably assessed his overall approach: “He was just trying to keep communication open with Putin, just as he did with Kim Jong Un and Chinese president Xi Jinping.”

Perhaps at some point, her attempts to please Republicans from all camps won’t withstand tough questioning. But for now, she ends 2019 indisputably on the 2024 short list.

What to watch for in 2020: She says Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. Will she call out any Russian meddling in 2020, and risk Trump’s Twitter wrath?

Senator Josh Hawley.

The Senator

Josh Hawley

Senators are notorious presidential wannabes, but the Senate is a flawed presidential launching pad. The longer you’re in it, the less you sound like a normal person. Since the beginning of the modern presidential primary system in 1972, only five of the 24 presidential nominees have been sitting senators, and only one became president. That guy, Barack Obama, made sure not to languish in the Senate for too long.

In that one respect, Missouri’s Josh Hawley may be the Republican Obama.

The youngest senator, who just turned 40 in his first year of office, has wowed conservative commentators with a series of speeches and bills that seek to evolve Trump’s crude conservative populism into a governing vision with a sustainable intellectual foundation.

He is not bound by traditional conservative orthodoxies. He’s crafted bipartisan legislation that would constrain the power of giant technology companies. In a November speech, he decried “market worship” and praised labor unions (along with “families and farm cooperatives [and] churches”) for fostering community.

He has not been afraid to step on Republican toes. He questioned whether Trump’s judicial nominee Neomi Rao was truly opposed to abortion rights (though he eventually supported her). He blamed both the “right and left” for having “steadily expanded America’s military involvement in every theater of the globe.” Breaking with Trump, he flew to Hong Kong to meet with protesters and denounced the Chinese government for making Hong Kong a “police state.”

“[N]o man is better positioned to shape the future of conservatism,” wrote Charles Fain Lehman at the Washington Examiner. The Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer dubbed Hawley “the most important freshman conservative since Ted Cruz.” Sen. Cruz appears to agree, writing in Time magazine: “Hawley embodies the best qualities the movement has to offer: impressive intellectual acumen and populist fire. Combined, these qualities make him a force to be reckoned with.”

Other senators are likely to run, too. Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, whose uber-hawkishness risks being out of place in a post-Trump GOP, rushed to The New York Times op-ed page to embrace the president’s musings about purchasing Greenland. Florida’s Marco Rubio, still trying to recover from his embarrassing showing in the 2016 presidential campaign, broke with libertarian economic principles in December and called for a “pro-American industrial policy.”

But no senator has intrigued Washington’s conservatives as much as Hawley. Of course, being the favorite of the conservative intellectual elite often does not translate into votes from Republican primary voters. But Hawley has productively spent 2019 distinguishing his vision and his priorities from his potential rivals, and that’s no small thing for a person who has been in the Senate for only one year.

What to watch for in 2020: Hawley has drawn attention for winning bipartisan support for some of his proposed technology industry regulations. But next year, can he actually get one of his ideas passed by Congress and signed into law?

President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Governor

Ron DeSantis

Remember when Republicans were so proud of their governors? That was back in 2014, when Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker were touted as principled, outside-the-Beltway problem-solvers. Now you can be forgiven if you struggle to name a Republican governor. In the age of Trump, experience seems quaint.

But one new Republican governor spent 2019 enacting popular conservative policies, while also deepening his relationship with Trump: Ron DeSantis of Florida.

During the 2018 campaign for Florida governor, his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, said of DeSantis in a televised debate, “The racists believe he's a racist.” DeSantis won that bitter contest by 3 points with slightly less than 50 percent of the vote. Today, DeSantis boasts a 65 percent approval rating, including 40 percent approval among Democrats.

Those solid numbers follow a year in which DeSantis whipped the state Legislature into passing several talk-radio friendly priorities: banning Florida cities from becoming so-called sanctuary cities, permitting teachers to carry guns in school and expanding the availability of school vouchers that can be used for private education.

And DeSantis has more than one gear. He has flashed an environmentalist streak. He vetoed legislation that would have prevented municipalities from banning plastic straws. He also has taken steps to address climate change, though he generally avoids using the phrase. He hired the state’s first chief resilience officer, tasked with, according to a release from the governor’s office, “preparing Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise.” He also named the state’s first chief science officer, who reports to the state’s secretary of environmental protection and works on climate-related impacts.

DeSantis is getting on Trump’s good side with another break from conservative orthodoxy: signing legislation to allow the importation of prescription drugs. The plan requires federal approval, which DeSantis got in December from the Health and Human Services Department, after going over the heads of skeptics inside the administration and appealing directly to Trump. Both the governor and the president clearly believe the issue is a political winner in the senior-heavy state.

In an October appearance in Florida, Trump praised DeSantis: “If he was doing a lousy job, I probably wouldn’t have shown up today. But he is doing one of the best jobs in the whole country.” Don’t be surprised if you hear those words in a 2024 campaign ad.

What to watch for in 2020: DeSantis says he wants 2020 to be “the year of the teacher” and has proposed spending $600 million to boost the minimum salary of full-time teachers in Florida. But the state’s teachers union wants $2.4 billion for school improvements and an across-the-board pay hike. Can he pull off a compromise and burnish his pragmatist credentials?

Donald Trump, Jr.

The Scion

Don Jr.

The slapdash book “Triggered” may be a transparent effort by the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., to set himself up as the literal heir apparent. The Republican National Committee may have awkwardly tried to help him along by buying $100,000 worth of copies of the book. But that doesn’t mean the strategy is not working.

While his sister Ivanka has earned a reputation as an ineffectual inside player who is ideologically out of step with her father and the Republican Party, Junior has been a caustic, partisan warrior on social media, and a rock star on the campaign trail for his father and congressional candidates. When speaking at a San Antonio event in October, a shout of “2024!” was heard from the crowd. One attendee told a reporter, “He’s just like his father and I can’t wait to vote for him someday too.”

That Trump voters would be intrigued by Trump Jr. should surprise no one.
If Republican voters had a problem with a man born into wealth styling himself as a man of the people by lobbing verbal bombs at liberals and media figures, then Donald Trump, Sr., wouldn’t be president.

What to watch for in 2020: Will we see Donald Trump, Jr., get a prime-time speaking slot at the 2020 convention? Will we see the crowd launch into a “2024” chant? And if Pence does get dumped from the ticket, would Trump, Sr., replace him with someone who disavows interest in running for the presidency, making it easier to keep the Oval Office in the family?

Drew Angerer

The Wild Card

Donald Trump

Maybe Junior will have to wait. If the incumbent loses this year, he would remain constitutionally eligible to run in 2024. And the elder Trump is not one to slink quietly away after a defeat.

No president booted out of office after one term has even tried to mount a comeback since Grover Cleveland pulled it off in 1892. Party faithful are quick to bury their defeated, usually making the mere thought of renomination laughable. But Trump may retain a firmer grip on his party’s base than did George H.W. Bush or Jimmy Carter.

If Trump loses in November, some Democrats fear that Trump would unconstitutionally refuse to abandon the White House. But perhaps the greater fear should be held among the Republicans who want to succeed him: that he does follow the Constitution but refuses to abandon center stage.

What to watch for in 2020: Donald Trump filed his reelection campaign with the Federal Election Commission on the day of his inauguration in 2017, immediately squelching any doubt that he wasn’t serious about sticking around. If he loses on Nov. 3, 2020, does he file for 2024 on Nov. 4?

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


The Socialist


The most significant endorsement of 2019 was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s October endorsement of Bernie Sanders for president. While she can’t take credit for all that followed, since Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Sanders, Elizabeth Warren fell from potential frontrunner back to third place, while Sanders has risen to second place nationally and leads some New Hampshire polls.

Ocasio-Cortez’s move solidified the democratic socialist strain in the Democratic Party, keeping it distinct from Warren’s capitalist brand of progressive populism, and positioned herself to carry the movement’s torch when the 78-year-old Sanders retires. She followed up her endorsement with a tour of Iowa on behalf of Sanders. And Sanders returned the favor with a digital video ad of the tour that at times felt more like a spot for AOC 2024 than for Bernie 2020.

Whether the big-d Democratic Party will want to embrace small-d democratic socialism depends on developments that cannot be foreseen, especially this one: Which ideological faction will the 2020 Democratic nominee represent, and how will that person fare in the general election against Trump? But no matter what happens in 2020, Ocasio-Cortez has made it clear that the democratic socialists are not going anywhere, and that she is prepared to lead them. If she is ready to run in 2024, there will be a movement behind her.

The Bronx-born 30-year old would be just barely constitutionally eligible for the presidency. You have to be 35 when you take office, a bar she would pass in October 2024. But the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, who turns 38 in a couple weeks, has reset the meter for what’s considered old enough to be a serious presidential candidate.

What to watch for in 2020: Ocasio-Cortez has said she will support the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. But if Sanders is not the choice of the party, how much political capital would she be willing to spend in order to corral skeptical socialists behind the Democratic presidential candidate? And if she does stump hard for the nominee, does her reputation as an anti-establishment warrior suffer among the activist left?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Big Blue Governors

Cuomo and Newsom

The two biggest Democratic states have two governors with big personalities and big aspirations for the White House: New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom. Each is blessed with Democratic legislatures that helped them to pass a slew of progressive legislation in 2019. Both enacted rent control. Cuomo signed bills offering student financial aid and drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants, and Newsom signed a bill providing health insurance to undocumented low-income adults under 26.

Both also fought directly with Trump. Cuomo approved a bill that would let the U.S. House get its hands on Trump’s state tax returns. Newsom is resisting Trump’s attempt to strip California of its authority to set its own emissions standards for cars, even striking his own regulatory agreement with certain carmakers and refusing to buy cars from those who didn’t oblige.

Despite their achievements, neither is receiving universal love from progressive activists. Cuomo seems to go out of his way to needle the New York left; most recently, his appointees are moving to make it much harder for third parties, including the left-wing Working Families Party, to get on the ballot. Newsom stepped on the toes of some unions by pledging to negotiate with big tech companies on how to implement a bill designed to protect gig economy workers. But as the 2020 Democratic primary has shown, angering the activist left isn’t necessarily disqualifying to many Democratic voters.

What to watch for in 2020: Cuomo faces a $6 billion budget gap largely driven by rising health care costs. In a matter of days, he will have to detail how he plans to balance the 2020 budget, and any proposed spending cuts or tax increases could spark new controversies that may complicate his future political plans.

Newsom, meanwhile, faces two huge problems without easy answers: a growing homelessness crisis (about one quarter of the nation’s homeless lives in California) and a bankrupt utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, that has contributed to the state’s wildfire crisis and now shuts off electricity in response to extreme heat and wind in an attempt to prevent future fires. In December, Newsom rejected a PG&E-proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, and he still must decide whether he wants the state to take over the company. Either of these complex issues could undercut Newsom’s attempt to be seen as an effective problem-solver.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

The Big Bluegrass Governor

Andy Beshear

Andy Beshear won the biggest upset in 2019 politics by ousting incumbent Matt Bevin from the Kentucky governor’s mansion. Bevin was perhaps the most Trump-like governor in the country, in a state that voted for Trump by 30 points. Beshear beat him by focusing on health care, and by opposing Bevin’s attempt to impose stringent work requirements on the state’s expansion of Medicaid.

The new governor began his tenure with a bold executive order, extending voting rights to more than 140,000 ex-felons. (Kentucky imposes a lifetime voting ban on ex-felons, but the governor has the power to issue exemptions.)

Unlike the other red-state Democratic gubernatorial success story of the year, Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards, Beshear supports abortion rights, though he backs restrictions on late-term procedures. To win in Kentucky, Beshear didn’t have to run so far to the right that he can’t be viable in a national Democratic presidential primary. At the same time, Beshear can argue that by not running too far to the left—he didn’t back projects like single-payer health insurance and free college—he has proven he can compete on red turf.

Being a red-state governor doesn’t provide a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination: ask Montana’s Steve Bullock about that. A major challenge is Republican legislators who make it hard for a Democratic governor to build a record of accomplishment. Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is still cajoling legislators to win support for Medicaid expansion. Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, had her proposed 45-cent gas tax hike for road repairs rebuffed. If any of the red-state Democrats want to run for president in 2024, they will need to find a way to squeeze some successes from their legislatures.

What to watch for in 2020: The Republican-led Kentucky Legislature is already looking to put a bill on Beshear’s desk that would prevent cities in the state from becoming sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Does Beshear veto that, or ideologically similar legislation, in order to preserve his viability for a 2024 Democratic presidential primary? Or does he capitulate on some conservative issues in hopes of gaining Republican support for the new revenue he needs to pay for his Kentucky agenda?

Former Georgia State Rep. Stacey Abrams.

The Great Southern Hope

Stacey Abrams

In 2018, Democrats hoped Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Beto O’Rourke in Texas would show how demographic changes and energetically progressive campaigns can paint red states blue. Both won praise for their near-misses, but each handled the new fame differently.

O’Rourke rushed into a presidential campaign and had his political future crushed under the weight of unread dentist-office copies of Vanity Fair. Abrams merely teased a presidential run before throwing her energies into a new voting rights organization. In so doing, Abrams has maintained a national profile without suffering back-to-back losses in quick succession.

Still, Abrams would in all likelihood need to win some political office in the next four years to be considered a plausible 2024 presidential candidate. In 2022, she could run for governor again, likely a rematch against Gov. Brian Kemp. Or, if Democrats don’t win this year’s special election, she could pursue the Senate. But she’d have to win this time. As O’Rourke proved, being a lovable loser gets you only so far.

What to watch for in 2020: Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight Action, is spearheading a “Fair Fight 2020” initiative, intended to thwart voter suppression efforts in 20 battleground states. Will it be effective? In December, Fair Fight Action lost in federal court, at the hands of an Obama-appointed judge, when it tried to stop Georgia from purging inactive voters from the state rolls. She will likely need tangible successes in 2020 if she is to maintain her national profile.