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Mitch Perry Report for 12.6.16 – “Run, Joe, Run” was so 2015, wasn’t it?

One of my favorite sections of Bernie Sanders interview with Matt Taibbi in the current Rolling Stone is when the curmudgeonly Vermont Senator bitches about the corporate establishment media.

“They live in a bubble, talk about their world, worry about who’s going to be running 18 years from now for office,” he says. “Meanwhile, people can’t feed their kids. That’s something I knew.”

I write that as a prelude to the stories that floated yesterday that Joe Biden made some offhanded remark about perhaps running for president in 2020.

Really?

“I’m going to run in 2020. For president. So, uh, what the hell, man,” the departing vice president told reporters Monday with only a slight smile on his face. He then took it back. Slightly.

Asked if he was joking, he said: “I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “based on those remarks, Jon Cooper, who was national finance chairman for last year’s Draft Biden effort to coax the vice president into the 2016 presidential campaign, purchased a series of web domains including draftbiden2020.com, biden2020.net and runjoerun2020.com.”

Is this the time we mention that the 74-year-old VP will be 78 in 2020?

The obsession in this country with who will be president is so complete that when Donald J. Trump actually takes the oath of office in January 20, there will be some (maybe even the President) who are bored with the fact that there will be at least a year’s moratorium on speculating on who is running in 2020 – unless issues of impeachment come up.

We can’t forget that, since there were certainly Republicans hinting that they would go after Hillary Clinton if she were elected in the ugliest presidential election of our lifetime.

Look, from all the reports, Biden though hard of running for office as last as September of last year. There was considerable concern in Democratic circles that the FBI investigation into Clinton could result in an indictment, and then who’s your backup? But not only was Barack Obama firmly “with her,” but so was the entire Democratic Party establishment -embodied by the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the DNC. There was no path for Biden, as much as he wanted to pursue the presidency for a third time.

So we should let Biden spout off – it’s something he’s done a lot in his professional career, which spans 46 years. But let’s not take it too seriously. There’s enough going on in the world today.

Meanwhile, Democrats at a local level are having their issues. We were at last night’s Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee meeting – and our story on that event will be up by 8:30 a.m. today. Check it out.

In other news..

Rick Scott is staying mum about the proposal that would repeal the law he signed in 2014 that allows for undocumented immigrant students qualify for in-state tuition for Florida colleges and universities.

The Governor was in Tampa on Monday, championing the men and women who work in state law enforcement and hyping his proposal to give them a raise.

Early and voting by mail totals favors Democrats in the Tampa City Council District 7 race taking place tonight.

North Carolina GOP Governor Pat McCrory finally gave up his month-long quest to save his job, and Equality Florida couldn’t be happier.

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Steve Schale: Florida early vote, a retrospective

It is time for one last big data piece on Florida 2016.

For about 18 hours a day over 2+ weeks, I found myself living and breathing early voting data. So now that all the data have been reported from counties, I wanted to look back at some assumptions, and compare them to the actual voting data.

Before I begin, there are five things to keep in mind:

1. Every time I talk in percentages, those percentages are relative to the two-party, i.e., Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton numbers. I have no use or interest in playing the “what if” questions around third-party votes, so the data in here is just the two-party vote. For what it is worth, this is standard for my blogs.

2. I compiled this data over the entire month of November, often by pestering counties to provide data they don’t have on their website. Some of the data came before the final, final certified versions, so there might be exceptionally slight variances — like tens of votes in a county — from the state final counts. However, there is nothing that happened so significant to change any findings.

3. When I talk about early voting, that is both in-person and vote by mail combined, unless I specify otherwise.

4. For the sake of interpreting the data, everything that wasn’t an in-person or traditional vote by mail ballot was allocated to Election Day. So this means that there are likely provisional from in-person early, and VBM, as well as late military ballots in Election Day. I don’t think the impact of this is significant, but I’m flagging it regardless.

5. We know how people voted on Election Day, but we do not know yet who voted on Election Day. In terms of firm lessons and take-aways, some of that should wait.

And since I was wrong about the outcome, before we get started, here were some of my macro-assumptions going into Election Day.

When early voting started, I thought presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day — namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming 3 percent of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton.

I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68 percent of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4 percent, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes.

This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8 percent to upper end of 8 percent, just to break-even. Both numbers are above Mitt Romney’s Election Day win in 2012 (I can’t remember John McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

Here are two other things baked into my assumptions: Republicans had about 100,000 more “certain” voters left to vote, though when you looked at just 2012 voters, the number was about 40K.

So worst-case scenario, Democratic turnout struggled and only the certain voters turnout. the R versus D lands about even for the entire election, and the early vote strength combined with a more diverse NPA vote would carry the day. I think my final memo pegged her winning Florida by about 1.5 percent, which was about 130K votes, meaning on the more optimistic view of Clinton’s early vote lead, Trump could still win Election Day by more than Romney, and she’d still win.

Since Trump is a golfer, I described his challenge on Election Day in golf terms: a 250 yard shot over water.

So here are the toplines:

— 9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race.

— 9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Trump or Clinton in 2016.

— Trump’s margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2 percent out of the two-party voters.

— 69.3 percent of the vote was cast before Election Day.

— Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes — roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote)

— On Election Day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton.

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

Turnout on Election Day was slightly lower than I expected, by about 80-100K votes. Given that my projection was based largely on the number of 2012 voters who had yet to vote, it was almost certainly lower because some share of 2012 Election Day Democrats didn’t show up, and, more than likely, another share voted for Trump. This is the big question I will be looking at when the state updates the final 2016 voter file.

Clinton’s nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we’d see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day.

However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. For example, his two-party vote share was 8.39 percent higher on Election Day (56.44) than Early Vote. (48.05), but in Tampa it was up 8.92 percent (51.5 percent EV, 60.42 ED), and Orlando was up 9.08 percent (48.8 percent EV, 57.88 percent ED). Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes.

How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes — out of 7.6 million cast. Trump’s Election Day margin almost matched it.

Benchmarks

For most of early voting, I tracked a variety of benchmarks, namely Hillsborough (the only county that voted for Bush and Obama both times), the I-4 corridor counties, South Florida and #Duuuval county.

So, for the sake of this exercise, let’s start there:

Hillsborough

Clinton went into Election Day with about a 29K partisan advantage among early voters, or a partisan lead of about 6.8 percent.

When the votes were cast, she carried the early voting period almost 44,000 votes, or almost 11 percent of the two-party vote. Trump won Election Day by just under 2 points, or right at 3,000 votes, so when all was done, Clinton carried the county by 41,000 votes. The final percentage margin, 6.8 percent was almost the same as Obama, and her raw vote win was about 5,000 votes larger.

The county was a little below where it should have been for turnout. Hillsborough is typically about 6. percent f the statewide vote, but it landed at 6.3 percent, largely because its Election Day share was down — only 29 percent of Hillsborough votes came on Election Day.

Long and short of it, Hillsborough could have been a little better, but that number is right at what a win for Democrats looks like.

I-4 Corridor

Hillary Clinton won the I-4 counties by almost 162K votes, but here the Trump surge on Election Day is very evident. She won these counties by almost 200,000 votes in the early/vbm phase, yet Trump won Election Day by almost 35,000 votes. Overall, Clinton won the early phase with 56.3 percent of the two-party vote, though only won 47.3 percent of the Election Day vote — a surge which exceeded his statewide average.

When you look at the Volusia and Polk numbers, you can see the seeds of how Trump won on Election Day. Compared to the state, both saw their Election Day turnout levels exceed Early Vote — with 34 percent of the Volusia vote coming on Election Day, and over 40 percent for Polk. Once fairly Democratic Volusia has been the canary in the coal mine for a few cycles — there is a reason I’ve highlighted it in blogs for years. If I was going to do qualitative research into 2016, I’d start with focus groups in Volusia.

Pinellas is a slightly different kind of animal, but his Election Day performance is probably indicative of late deciders breaking almost exclusively for Trump. Had the FBI Director not chosen to insert himself into the campaign with a week to ago, I suspect Clinton would have carried Pinellas (albeit very narrowly).

In total, 24.1 percent of the statewide vote came from these counties, of which 70.6 percent of the vote came before Election Day. Another way to look at it: while only 29.4 percent of the total vote from these counties came in on Election Day, 33.4 percent of Trumps’ vote total from these counties came in on Election Day. I suspect when Election Day voter data comes out, we will see a cratering of minority participation.

Volusia (Daytona)

Final early vote party spread: 39.6 R, 37.1 D, 23.3 NPA R + 4,302
Actual early vote spread: Trump +8.88 percent (+14,754 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +22.28 percent (+19,162 votes)
Results: Trump +33,916 (54.3-41.4 percent). In 12, Romney was +2700 (+1.15 percent)

Seminole — suburban Orlando

Final early vote party spread: 41.0 R, 35.0 D, 24.0 NPA R +10,316
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +1.84 percent (+2,989 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.36 percent (+6,518 votes)
Results: Trump +3,529 votes (48.1-46.5 percent). In 12, Romney was +13,500 (+6.5 percent)

Orange (Orlando)

Final early party spread: 45.8 D, 29.5 R, 24.7 NPA D +67,155
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+116,949 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.49 percent (+17.729 votes)
Final spread: Clinton +134,678 votes (59.7 percent-35.4 percent). In 2012, Obama was +85,000 (+18.2 percent)

Osceola — heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.

Final early vote party spread: 47.1 D, 26.2 R, 26.7 NPA D + 22,625
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+30,645 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.98 percent (+4,512 votes)
Results: Clinton: +35,157 votes (60.4-30.6 percent). In 2012, Obama was roughly +27K (+24.4 percent)

Imperial Polk — between Tampa/Orlando

Final Early Vote Party Spread: 39.6 R, 39 D, 21.4 NPA R +1,085
Actual Early Vote Spread: Trump +7.55 percent (+12,424 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +25.01 percent (+27,573 votes)
Results: Trump +13.94 percent (+39,997 votes). In 2012, Romney was +19K votes (+6.8 percent)

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)

Final early vote party spread: 38.5 R, 38.2 D, 23.3 NPA D +752
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +4.58 percent (+14,460 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.72 percent (+19,960 votes)
Results: Trump +1.1 percent (+5,500 votes). In 2012, Obama won by about 26K votes (+5.5 percent)

South Florida

Going into Election Day, there was almost nothing that I didn’t feel good about in South Florida, and here is why: 87.7 percent of the entire 2012 election turnout voted early in Dade. In Broward, it was a respectable 81 percent. In fact, 11.9 percent of all early votes came in from Dade (should be 10.3 percent), and Broward was at 9.65 percent (should have been 8.75 percent).

And then Election Day happened. The issue here was different from I-4. Trump’s share of the two-party vote in Broward and Dade went from 32 percent to 38.7 percent, a growth of 6.7 percent, which while significant, is lower than his statewide average increase of 8.4 percent. What happened on Election Day is people didn’t vote. Statewide, 30.7 percent of the vote came on Election Day — in Broward and Dade, it was 23.2 percent. Another way of looking at it: these two counties made up 21.5 percent of early vote, and only 14.7 of Election Day

That said, these two counties both exceeded their projected share of the statewide vote, as well as set records for vote margins. Democrats cannot blame losing on Broward and Dade not doing their jobs.

On the flip side, I was concerned about Palm Beach County the entire early vote period. Even in my last memo, I called Palm Beach a “red flag” largely due to lagging turnout. While the Democratic margins were good, Palm Beach was only 5.9 percent of the statewide early vote, and it should have been 7 percent. Well it turned out on Election Day — 41.1 percent of the total Palm Beach County vote came in on Election Day, making up 9.5 percent of the total statewide vote, the biggest single jump in the state. And it was a Trump vote that showed up: after running up a 95K vote lead in the early vote, Clinton won Election Day by just over 7K.

When it boils down to it, Clinton won the county by about the same vote margin as Obama in 2012 (which was down from 08), but her vote share was down. Frankly going forward, Palm Beach is a place where Democrats need to up their game.

Palm Beach

Final early vote party spread: 47.3 D, 28.4 R, 24.3 NPA D +74,728
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +24.9 percent (+94,888 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +2.78 (+7,383 votes)
Results: Clinton +15.1 percent (+102,271 votes). In 2012, Obama won by just over 102K (+17 percent).

Broward

Final early vote party spread: 55.4 D, 21.7 R, 22.9 NPA D +212,077
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +41.7 percent (+254,391 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +18.6 (+37,978 votes)
Results: Clinton +34.9 percent (+292,369 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 264K votes (+34.9 percent)

Miami-Dade

Final early vote party spread: 43.9 D, 29.2 R, 26.9 NPA D +114,767
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +34.4 percent (+234,758 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +26.7 percent (+55,389 votes)
Results: Clinton +29.4 percent (+290,147 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 208.5K votes (+23.6 percent)

#DUUUUVAL

Clinton had one job in Duval, keep it manageable. If you had given the Clinton campaign the option of spotting Trump a 20,000-vote win in Duval in exchange for both campaigns walking away, I would have urged them to take it. After all, this is a county where Bush in 04 won by 61,000 votes, and given that Trump exceeded the Bush 04 margins in most counties, running up a big number here was a real possibility.

But she did her job here, plus some. In keeping Trump’s Duval margins under 6,000 votes, she had the best showing in Duval for a presidential Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, and she held Trump well below the Marco Rubio numbers, who won the county by 70,000 votes. If #NeverTrump succeeded anywhere, it was in Duval.

Final early vote party spread: 42.5D, 41.1 R, 16.4 NPA D +4,279
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +1.9 percent (+5.439 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +8.9 percent (+11,407 votes)
Results: Trump +1.4 percent (+5,968 votes). In 2012, Romney won by 15K votes (+3.6 percent)

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much more to say — Clinton had the race where it needed to be, and Trump won it on Election Day.

First, one quick note on the votes before Election Day. Democrats had about 1.5 percent edge in the voters who had voted either in-person early or a vote by mail ballot, yet she won the early voting period by almost 4 percent. This was likely due to her over-performing with NPAs, given that nonwhite voters made up 37 percent of NPA voters (compared to 33 percent of partisans).

I suspect what we will see when the Election Day voter data comes out that white NPA participation was quite high, balancing out the racial makeup of the NPA voter to look more like the electorate at-large.

So where did Trump really win it? The data from the early vote/Election Day totals confirms my first glance: This was a win primarily in suburban/exurban I-4.

Here’s why.

Start with my favorite analogy, Florida as a scale. The GOP media market buckets (Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers) and the Dem buckets (Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm and Miami) largely balance themselves out, and I-4 tilts it one way or the other. This year, in their core markets, Republicans did much better on Election Day than the Democrats, winning them by 188K votes, compared to the Democrats only winning theirs by 70K, carrying a margin of roughly 120K votes out of their core markets.

However, Democrats went into Election Day with a bigger margin, having crushed the Republicans in early vote, by almost 260K votes. In fact, Clinton’s 141K final margin over Trump in the core partisan markets was a few thousand votes higher than Barack Obama in 2012.

Then we get to I-4, and this time, we look at it not as just as the counties on I-4, but every county in the two media markets. Going into Election Day, I-4 was balanced, with Trump holding a 11K vote lead. But on Election Day, Trump won by 242K votes. In other words, 95.5 percent of Trump’s total margin in the Tampa and Orlando media markets came on Election Day. In total, Trump won 59 percent of the two-party vote in the Tampa and Orlando media markets on Election Day.

And of those 242K votes, 200K of that margin came from the nonurban counties in the media market, in other words. Just on Election Day.

And while it is true that Republicans always do better on Election Day, his Election Day “improvement”, particularly in the Tampa media markets, far exceeded Romney.

For example, in Pasco, his vote share was 7.69 percent higher on Election Day than in Early Vote, whereas Romney was 2.59 percent higher, or 5.1 percent greater than Romney. In Polk, he was also 5.1 percent higher, Seminole 5.1 percent, Sarasota 5.4 percent, and Pinellas 7.2 percent. We saw similar things in the outlying counties in the Palm Beach market, where in St. Lucie, his vote share was 11.1 percent higher on Election Day, a 5.2 percent increase on Romney, and in Martin County, where his Election Day improvement was 6.3 percent higher than Romney.

I could keep writing on this, but until we get actual voter data from Election Day back, there isn’t much else to add. I will do a piece on my thoughts on where the Democrats should go from here sometime in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned in my last piece, the Trump loss, at least regionally, looks a lot like the Bush win in 04 — and there is a road map for how to reverse it (see Obama).

And again, I don’t think it is as simple as Republicans had more voters left to vote, because best case scenario, that number was only about 100,000 more voters. No, this almost surely a cratering of Democratic turnout, all Election Day deciders going to Trump, and an Election Day surge contributing to the comeback.

The combination of two disliked candidates, Trump’s success at driving the narrative into the ground, and all the late-breaking issues going to Trump, it ended up being the perfect storm Nov. 8, or in Trump’s case, the perfect 3-wood over water to that green 250 yards away.

And I lied in the first sentence — I’ll be back once we have the full voter file with Election Day voters. Until then, happy holidays, unless you are a Jags fan, because we will surely all get a Gus Bradley extension for Christmas.

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Donald Trump’s inauguration set to test nation’s readiness to heal

One thing you can count on during inauguration season in Washington: People of all stripes will find a reason to show up — whether it’s to celebrate or commiserate.

There are parties and protests to attend, stars to gawk at, receptions to be worked, deals to be done, drinks to be consumed.

Less than two months out from Inauguration Day, there’s a different dynamic surrounding the planning for Donald Trump‘s swearing-in than the unbridled enthusiasm that swirled around the installation of the first black president in 2008.

Crowd expectations are down. Fewer A-list celebrities are likely to descend. Hotels still have rooms to be rented.

But congressional offices are maxing out on ticket requests for the Jan. 20 swearing-in. Trump’s inaugural committee is wooing big donors with candlelight dinners, exclusive luncheons and premier access to balls. Interest groups are lining up sideline events. And among those still mourning Hillary Clinton‘s loss, there is plenty of counter-programming afoot, including plans for a giant women’s march aimed at sending a defiant message to the incoming president.

Before the election, District of Columbia planners set an early estimate of 800,000-900,000 people for this year’s inauguration and they haven’t revised that number yet, according to Christopher Geldart, director of D.C.’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. But there’s scant expectation of replicating the 1.8 million people who descended on Washington for Barack Obama‘s first inaugural.

Nor will Hollywood turn out as it did for Obama, whose two inaugurals attracted the likes of Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Usher, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and many more A-listers.

“More than any election we’ve seen in a very long time, the Hollywood community was really behind Hillary, and a lot of people put their reputations on the line,” says longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “Clearly those are people who are going to be taking their Xanax and Valium that day and staying in bed with the covers over them.”

But Bragman said there still will be Republican-leaning celebrities who turn out for Trump — and a larger contingent of Hollywood types who show up for counter events like the women’s march planned for the day after Trump’s inauguration.

While demand for hotel rooms and other venues is slower than at this point four and eight years ago, hoteliers remain “guardedly optimistic,” according to Elliott Ferguson, president of Destination DC, the city’s tourism bureau. Some hotels that set up four-day-minimum inaugural packages are rethinking that model, hoping to capture more business from those headed to Washington for the women’s march.

Hotels are noticing “more rooms being picked up on Saturday than on Friday,” Ferguson says, suggesting strong interest in the march, whose organizers hope to draw 200,000 people to the city.

Be advised: The president-elect’s own Trump International Hotel is sold out.

Still available: For $2.5 million, the J.W. Marriott is offering a package that includes four presidential suites, 325 guest rooms, a craft bourbon barrel tasting reception, special inauguration menus, and a private viewing party on the terrace overlooking the parade route, among other amenities.

There are always more affordable options through rental network Airbnb, which says local bookings for inauguration weekend spiked by 80 percent during the week after the election.

Airbnb host Jade Moore, a video editor and Democrat, doubled her prices to $200 a night for inauguration weekend and says she’s booked both Trump supporters and women marchers for her Anacostia home. Before her inaugural guests arrive, she’ll be removing the toilet paper bearing Trump’s photo and the sign in her bathroom that invites people to “take a dump on Trump.”

“I’m sure we’ll all get along,” says Moore, hopefully. “We don’t even have to bring up politics.”

Not all hosts are that dispassionate.

Another local Airbnb host, who asked that her name not be used to avoid getting in trouble for violating the company’s nondiscrimination policy, says she declined to accept a rental request that looked like it came from a Trump supporter and did accept a request that came from women planning to attend the march.

Interest groups, too, are adapting in different ways.

The Creative Coalition, a bipartisan advocacy group for the arts, has been holding inaugural balls for the past 20 years that typically attract top talent and celebrities. Coalition CEO Robin Bronk says interest in the ball remains strong and she expects it to feature top names once again.

“It’s an event that hopefully will be part of the healing of the nation,” Bronk says. Plus, she adds, “I would venture to say a lot of business gets done at our ball.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that threw an “equality ball” eight years ago, this year is focused on making sure its members get involved in demonstrations, marches and other events on inauguration weekend and throughout the year, says spokeswoman Sarah McBride.

The Latino Victory Project, which four years ago helped mount a huge Kennedy Center gala featuring Eva Longoria, George Lopez and other top Latino entertainers, this time is putting together events that put the Trump administration on notice that Latinos will fight “his hateful rhetoric and policies,” says project president Cristobal Alex.

“I wouldn’t call it a party,” Alex said of this year’s yet-to-be-announced events. “What I would call it is a moment to learn” from the last election.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Poll: Only about 1 in 4 wants Donald Trump to repeal health law

Only about one in four Americans wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor’s health care law that extended coverage to millions, a new poll has found.

The postelection survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of “Obamacare.”

While 52 percent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69 percent just last month, before the election. And more Republicans now say they want the law “scaled back” under the new president and GOP Congress, with that share more than doubling from 11 percent before the election to 24 percent after.

Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said the foundation’s polling experts aren’t quite sure what to make of that finding, and will continue to track the apparent shift in future polls. The organization is a clearinghouse for information and analysis about the health care system.

It could be that some Republicans “got a protest vote off their chests, and they’re done with that,” Altman said. “They now have a more moderate position.”

After branding the Affordable Care Act a “disaster” during an election campaign that saw big premium hikes unveiled in its closing days, Trump has been saying he’d like to keep parts of the law.

On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders are trying to choreograph a legislative dance that would let them quickly repeal “Obamacare,” then allow an interlude to segue to a replacement. The complex undertaking is fraught with political risk, because success is not guaranteed. It could disrupt coverage for millions by destabilizing the law’s already fragile health insurance markets, such as HealthCare.gov.

The poll found some skepticism about that approach. Forty-two percent of those who want the 2010 health care law repealed said lawmakers should wait until they figure out the details of a replacement plan before doing so.

Americans were divided on next steps for President Barack Obama‘s signature law. Overall, 30 percent said the new president and Congress should expand what the law does, and another 19 percent said it should be implemented as is. On the other side, 26 percent said the law should be entirely repealed and 17 percent called for it to be scaled back.

Among Trump voters, 8 in 10 viewed the health care law unfavorably, and half wanted it entirely repealed.

As Republicans start to make changes in health care, potentially revamping Medicare and Medicaid as well, the politics of the issue could turn against them, Altman said. “They are going to go from casting stones to owning the problem,” he said.

The poll found majorities across party lines support many of the health care law’s provisions, but not its requirement that individuals have coverage or risk fines, and its mandate that medium-to-large employers pay fines if they don’t offer health insurance.

Among the provisions with support across party lines:

— Allowing young adults to stay on a parent’s insurance until age 26.

— No co-payments for many preventive services.

— Closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”

— Financial help for low- and moderate-income people to pay their insurance premiums.

— A state option to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.

— Barring insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history.

— Increased Medicare payroll taxes for upper-income earners.

The telephone poll was conducted from Nov. 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial sample of 1,202 adults, including people reached by landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump’s idea of ‘presidential’ diverges from past presidents

Donald Trump, that most unconventional of presidential candidates, last spring pledged that he would act perfectly presidential when the time was right.

“I will be so presidential that you’ll call me and you’ll say, ‘Donald, you have to stop that, it’s too much,'” he promised during a March television interview.

Less than two months from Inauguration Day, there are growing signs that Trump’s idea of what’s presidential may never sync up with past norms — to the delight of some and dismay of others.

The president-elect has kept up his habit of sending unfiltered tweets, directly challenged the First Amendment right to burn the flag and selected a flame-throwing outsider for a top adviser. He’s shown no hesitation to traffic in unsubstantiated rumors, has mixed dealings in business and government, and has flouted diplomatic conventions to make his own suggestion for who should be Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., a job that happens to already be filled. He’s picked numerous fights with individual journalists, disregarded past practices on press access and dabbled in the name-calling that was commonplace during his candidacy.

Trump’s search for Cabinet nominees has played out like a reality TV show, with a number of candidates engaged in unabashed self-promotion while their assets and liabilities are publicly debated by members of the president-elect’s own transition team. (It’s normally a hush-hush process until the unveiling of an appointee). Trump’s tweet that “Fidel Castro is dead!” had none of the diplomatic subtleties normally associated with such an international development.

Is all of this, then, the “new normal” for what to expect from a Trump administration or a reflection of the growing pains associated with any presidential transition?

President Barack Obama, who knows a thing or two about making the big leap to the Oval Office, has expressed hope that the weight of the office will ultimately have a sobering effect on Trump, cautioning people against assuming “the worst.”

“How you campaign isn’t always the same as how you govern,” Obama said in one of a string of recent comments trying to provide some measure of reassurance to those concerned about the next president. “Sometimes when you’re campaigning, you’re trying to stir up passions. When you govern, you actually have reality in front of you, and you have to figure out, ‘How do I make this work.'”

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a strong conservative and a Trump defender, said of the transition, “You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet.”

But Thomas Mann, a longtime scholar of government from the Brookings Institution, said that while people can hope for the best, “There’s no reason to take what’s going on with anything other than great uneasiness and caution about the kind of government that is preparing to take control in the United States.”

“To call this the ‘new normal’ is to make light of the seriousness of what’s going on,” Mann said.

Trump has “got to get some discipline,” said New York University’s Paul Light, another scholar of government. “He’s just got to get on this.”

On the matter of Trump’s tweeting, Light said, “If he’s up at 3 a.m. about to tweet, he should start reading something about his agenda instead. He’s under-informed and so is his staff.”

The concerns extend well beyond matters of style.

— Trump’s out-of-the-blue tweet this week that people who burn the flag should face jail time or a loss of citizenship had Republicans stepping forward to defend First Amendment rights.

— His unfounded charges that millions of Americans voted illegally sow distrust in the integrity of the U.S. electoral system.

— On matters of press access, the idea that the whereabouts of the president or president-elect might be unknown in a time of national emergency has troubling implications beyond mere inconvenience for reporters.

And experts on government ethics say that if the president doesn’t sell off his vast business buildings, he’ll be subject to a never-ending string of conflict-of-interest questions that will cast a cloud over his policy actions.

For all of that, though, polls show Trump’s favorability ratings have ticked up since the election, even if they are still extremely low for an incoming president.

A CNN survey released last week found that Trump’s favorability rating had gone from 36 percent a few weeks before the election to 47 percent 10 days after the vote. A little less than half of Americans said Trump’s actions since the election had made them more confident in his ability to serve as president.

A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans thought Trump should shut down his personal Twitter account. More than half were concerned that Trump might veto legislation that’s good for the nation if it hurt his business interests.

Trump has offered postelection reassurances that he’ll be “very restrained” in his tweets and more going forward. His actions haven’t always confirmed that.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump taps Tom Price to lead HHS, plans 2nd meeting with Mitt Romney

President-elect Donald Trump moved to fill out his Cabinet Tuesday, tapping Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Aides signaled that at least one other Cabinet nomination was imminent.

The president-elect appeared to still be torn over his choice for secretary of state. He summoned former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to New York for dinner Tuesday night to discuss the post for a second time. He was also meeting with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was getting new attention from Trump’s team. On Monday, Trump spent an hour with retired Gen. David Petraeus, another new contender.

Trump’s decision to consider Romney for the powerful Cabinet post has sparked an unusual public backlash from some of his closest aides and allies. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has warned that it would be a “betrayal” to Trump supporters if he selected Romney, who was a fierce critic of the president-elect.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump was aware that Conway planned to voice her concerns about Romney in public and they pushed back at suggestions that the president-elect was angry at her for doing so.

Even as he weighed crucial Cabinet decisions, Trump appeared distracted by outside forces — or eager to create distractions himself. He took to Twitter early Tuesday to declare that “nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag.” He warned that those who do should face “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Trump offered no context for his message. The Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is protected by the First Amendment.

The president-elect spent the weekend tweeting his opposition to a recount effort in up to three states that is led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s team. He also falsely claimed that millions of people had voted illegally in the presidential election and provided no evidence to back up the baseless charge.

Trump won praise from Republicans Tuesday for his pick of Price to serve as health and human services secretary. A six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, Price has been a leading critic of President Barack Obama‘s health care law. If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll be a leading figure in Republican efforts to repeal the measure.

Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Price “has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want” for programs that help seniors, women, families and those with disabilities. His nomination, Schumer said, is “akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

Trump’s team also announced Tuesday that Seema Verma had been chosen to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Jason Miller, a transition team spokesman, said at least one other Cabinet post would be announced in the afternoon. He did not elaborate.

Transition aides said Trump was likely at least a few days away from a decision on secretary of state. Romney has supposed from Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition efforts.

Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign, including his preparedness for the foreign policy and national security decisions that confront a president. Still, he is said to be interested in serving in the administration and held a lengthy initial meeting with Romney before Thanksgiving.

Other top Trump allies, notably Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign against a Romney nomination. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking either to force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a loyal Trump ally, was initially seen as the leading contender to helm the State Department. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as his public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Trump is now said to be considering Giuliani to head the Homeland Security Department, according to those close to the transition process.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.29.16 — Will President Trump ‘terminate’ Obama deal with Cuba?

The first regularly scheduled flight in more than 50 years flew from Miami to Havana yesterday morning, just in time to begin the formal mourning for Fidel Castro, which leads to the question du jour — What will Donald Trump do with the Cuba-U.S. relations?

The President-elect tweeted that “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.”

To date, Cuba hasn’t appeared to reciprocate very much in terms of the U.S.’s lifting of travel, banking, and commercial sanctions. The White House pushes back on that, but that is very much the perception, and that’s why Trump is saying Raul Castro needs to do something to ensure the new policy stays in place.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also said with so many American companies now doing business in Cuba, it won’t be so easy to roll back the Obama policies. That includes 110 flights daily from the U.S. to Cuba from various American cities, including Tampa, that will soon commence.

You could argue that when Trump gets his national security team in place, Cuba will rank far below other hot spots they will be concerned about, with Syria, Afghanistan, the Middle East, China, and Russia taking the lead.

Yet Fidel’s death puts this situation in his face — and ours.

Like so much else with the PEOTUS, what will his foreign policy be, especially from such a business-oriented individual? It sounds lame, but nobody really has the answer now. Or do you?

In other news …

Luis Viera and Jim Davison will debate tonight in New Tampa. Viera has now raised more than five times as much money than Davison in the race, for whatever that’s worth in this small local election.

Jack Latvala is still upset that a handful of NFL players are choosing to sit down during the playing of the national anthem.

Although there are through analyses that debunk the theory that President Obama’s diplomatic moves towards Cuba alienated the Cuban-American community in this month’s presidential election, strident  Castro critic Ralph Fernandez thinks otherwise.

And House Minority Leader Janet Cruz says she’s good with the new rules voted on last week by the entire House that came from Speaker Richard Corcoran — except for that thing about allowing members to bring guns onto the floor.

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Donald Trump drama rolls on: Disputes, falsehoods hit transition

The drama, disputes and falsehoods that permeated Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign are now roiling his transition to the White House, forcing aides to defend his baseless assertions of illegal voting and sending internal fights spilling into public.

On Monday, a recount effort, led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s campaign also marched on in three states, based partly on the Stein campaign’s unsubstantiated assertion that cyberhacking could have interfered with electronic voting machines. Wisconsin officials approved plans to begin a recount as early as Thursday. Stein also asked for a recount in Pennsylvania and was expected to do the same in Michigan, where officials certified Trump’s victory Monday.

Trump has angrily denounced the recounts and now claims without evidence that he, not Clinton, would have won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for “millions of people who voted illegally.” On Twitter, he singled out Virginia, California and New Hampshire.

There has been no indication of widespread election tampering or voter fraud in those states or any others, and Trump aides struggled Monday to back up their boss’ claim.

Spokesman Jason Miller said illegal voting was “an issue of concern.” But the only evidence he raised was a 2014 news report and a study on voting irregularities conducted before the 2016 election.

Trump met Monday with candidates for top Cabinet posts, including retired Gen. David Petraeus, a new contender for secretary of state. Trump is to meet Tuesday with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is also being considered more seriously for the diplomatic post, and Mitt Romney, who has become a symbol of the internal divisions agitating the transition team.

Petraeus said he spent about an hour with Trump, and he praised the president-elect for showing a “great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there.”

“Very good conversation and we’ll see where it goes from here,” he said. A former CIA chief, Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition effort, teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow” as he exited Trump Tower Monday night.

Pence is said to be among those backing Romney for State. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.

Other top Trump allies, notably campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign to warn the president-elect that nominating Romney would be seen as a betrayal by his supporters. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking to either force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence.

Conway served as Trump’s third campaign manager and largely succeeded in navigating the minefield of rivalries that ensnared other officials. Trump is said to have offered her a choice of White House jobs — either press secretary or communications director. But people with knowledge of Conway’s plans say she is more interested in serving as an outside political adviser, akin to the role President Barack Obama‘s campaign manager David Plouffe played following the 2008 election.

The wrangling over the State Department post appears to have slowed the announcements of other top jobs. Retired Gen. James Mattis, who impressed Trump during a pre-Thanksgiving meeting, was at the top of the list for Defense secretary, but a final decision had not been made.

Trump was also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Homeland Security secretary, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for State and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as the mayor’s public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Those close to the transition insisted on anonymity in commenting because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private process.

Even as Trump weighs major decisions that will shape his presidency, he’s been unable to avoid being distracted by the recount effort. He spent Sunday on a 12-hour Twitter offensive that included quoting Clinton’s concession speech, in which she said the public owed Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead.”

His final tweets challenging the integrity of an election he won were reminiscent of his repeated, unsubstantiated assertions during the campaign that the contest might be rigged. Those previous comments sparked an outcry from both Clinton and some Republicans.

Clinton lawyer Marc Elias said the campaign has seen “no actionable evidence” of voting anomalies. But the campaign still plans to be involved in Stein’s recount to ensure its interests are legally represented.

Trump narrowly won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three would need to flip to Clinton to upend the Republican’s victory, and Clinton’s team says Trump has a larger edge in all three states than has ever been overcome in a presidential recount.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Americans thinking nation is divided hits all-time high, new polling shows

The number of Americans who think the nation is divided has reached an all-time high according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll found 77 percent of Americans see the country as divided, while 21 percent said the country was united.

In 2012, the last time Gallup measured perceptions of unity, 69 percent of respondents said the country was divided, with 29 percent saying American was united.

The lack of optimism is nothing new. Outside of a pair of polls shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans have tended to perceive the country as divided.

The perception of a divided America is more intense among Democrats (83 percent) and independents (78 percent), likely due to the outcome of the presidential election, though more than two-thirds of Republicans hold the same view.

The party split was more apparent when respondents were asked whether President-elect Donald Trump would do more to unite or divide the country.

Nearly nine out of 10 Republicans think he will do more to unite the country, and 43 percent of independents felt the same. Just 12 percent of Democrats think Trump will act as a uniter, compared to 81 percent who think he will divide the country further.

Overall, 49 percent of Americans think Trump will do more to divide the country.

In 2012, 55 percent of Americans saw President Barack Obama would unite the country, and in 2004, 57 percent thought the same of former President George W. Bush.

The survey took in 1,019 responses from adults living in all 50 states and Washington D.C., and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Miami Cuban celebration turns to reflection on Castro death

Celebration turned to somber reflection and church services Sunday as Cuban-Americans in Miami largely stayed off the streets following a raucous daylong party in which thousands marked the death of Fidel Castro.

One Cuban exile car dealer, however, sought to turn the revolutionary socialist’s death into a quintessential capitalist deal by offering $15,000 discounts on some models.

And on the airwaves, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump promised a hard look at the recent thaw in U.S. relations with Cuba.

At St. Brendan Catholic Church in the Miami suburb of Westchester, a member of the chorus read a statement by Archbishop Thomas Wenski about Castro’s death before the service. There was no overt mention of Castro during the Sunday Mass. But during the reading of the Prayers of the Faithful, one of the two priests celebrating the Mass prayed for “an end to communism, especially in Cuba and Venezuela.”

“Lord, hear our prayers,” churchgoers responded.

Outside the church, Nelson Frau, a 32-year-old Cuban-American whose parents fled the island in 1962, said he wasn’t surprised that Castro was not mentioned. He said Wenski’s statement reflected the role of the Catholic Church in Miami as a mediator toward peace between the Cubans in Miami and those on the island.

“I think the church is trying to act as a mediator at this point, to try to move the Cuban people forward rather than backward, not only the exile community here, but also the Cuban people on the island,” said Frau, who works in customer service.

Frau said celebrations of Castro’s death on the streets of Miami were a “natural reaction.”

“Let’s not forget that this is an exile community that has suffered a lot, over 50 years,” Frau said. “He’s an image of pain to a lot of people. It’s a celebration not of his death, but a celebration of the end of this image of pain and suffering.”

The pot-banging, car horn-honking, flag-waving throngs were much thinner in Little Havana and other Cuban-American neighborhoods on Sunday. People quietly sipped their morning coffee outside the Versailles restaurant – which had put up signs in Spanish calling itself the “House of the Exiles” – where many of the demonstrations have been centered along Calle Ocho, or 8th Street.

Later Sunday afternoon, people gathered anew outside the restaurant, forcing police to close the street down again as a chanting group carried a large Cuban flag. One group of Cuban exiles held a news conference at the Bay of Pigs museum, which commemorates the failed CIA-backed invasion in 1961. They called for a large rally Wednesday afternoon in Little Havana.

Castro was still on the minds of many, however, including exile Arnaldo Bomnin of Bomnin Chevrolet. He was offering $15,000 off on Corvettes and several sports-utility vehicle models.

Bomnin said the idea for the discount sprang from a conversation with a marketing company about a press release discussing his Cuban heritage after Castro’s death. Bomnin said he studied medicine in Cuba, but left the island after finding out the government was planning to place him as a doctor with a military unit. He arrived in Miami in 1996, and worked at an avocado farm and selling seafood before moving on to real estate and car sales.

The offer is not intended as a gimmick to sell more calls and profit on Castro’s death, he said. Instead, it’s a way for him back to the community and reflect the hope that Miami’s Cubans now have for a democratic government on the island.

“I don’t celebrate the death of anybody, he said. “What we’re celebrating is that we’re one step closer to democracy in Cuba; we’re one step closer to freedom in Cuba, to a free society in Cuba.”

Cuba also was a main topic on all the Sunday news programs, particularly Trump’s plans for U.S. relations with the communist island and whether he will reverse the thaw pushed by President Barack Obama.

Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, both said Trump wants to ensure Cuba is not benefiting from unilateral decisions that don’t benefit the American people or Cubans living on the island.

“We’re not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government,” Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners – these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that’s what President-elect Trump believes,” he said.

The two aides would not discuss details. And Conway said on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is not flatly opposed to a changed relationship with Cuba.

“He is open to researching and, in fact, resetting relations with Cuba,” she said. “But his criticism of what has happened in the last couple of years is very simple: it’s that we got nothing in return.”

Back in Miami, the Rev. Martin Anorga, 89, was a pastor at a Presbyterian church in Cuba, starting when he was in his 20s. He fled Cuba, and later served as head pastor of the First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Miami for nearly three decades before retiring.

Anorga said he participated in anti-Castro groups in Miami for years. But in church services, he only would talk about the victims of Castro’s regime, not the man himself.

“During services, they won’t talk about politics,” Anorga said. “When I was a pastor, we would pray for the victims of Castro in Cuba. The people who were hurt by Castro will never recover. Families were separated, estranged. We would pray for them.”

Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press.

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